It’s 1971, and situated on the corner of Short and William Streets sits the Plaza Petrol Station (these days the Mantra Hotel)… A young John McGuigan spends his weekends there pumping gas and his week days at the ANZ bank, which he joined at 16 after leaving school. John loved his weekend job so much, that when an opportunity presented itself to purchase his own petrol station, he jumped at the chance.
John’s dream was to run his own business, with the help of his mother – he persuaded her to mortgage her house and loan him the $6,000 to buy a petrol station.
Macquarie Auto Port was located on the corner of Bridge (now Gordon) and Munster Streets, and as John relished in his dream at the pumps, he also picked up a car dealership … Here John was introduced to Volkswagen, and a lifelong dedication to the brand ensued.
“I was there to pump gas, that is what I knew how to do, and the car sales were a by product.”
McGuigan soon found out that fixing cars and selling cars was something he was good at. At the bright age of 19, he was granted a Volkswagen Franchise and thus became the youngest dealer in the world.
Starting out as Macquarie Auto Port in 1971, a business that then enabled him and his school mate, Geoff King (now in Coffs Harbour) to commence a new venture, John Oxley Motors in 1975, the McGuigan family have written a long history of automotive sales ever since – some 48 years on.
“In 1971 when the business was young, it was just me, Michael Higgins and Chris van der Lay working, and Mum did the cleaning and books.
“Throughout the history of our car business in Port Macquarie, it has always been about the people we have worked with. My task has been to encourage them to do their best – for their benefit. A lot of people came and went throughout the years; some outgrew us and went on to bigger things. We’d still have a beer at Christmas.”
In more recent years, John and Lorraines’ son, Shane McGuigan, became Managing Director of the John Oxley Motors (JOM) businesses and is Dealer Principal for their eight motor franchises, including Nissan, Mitsubishi, Renault, Skoda, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover. However, John himself remains as Dealer Principal of the Volkswagen business.
Although “retired” from the main stable and day to day of the JOM business, John is still responsible for all of the operations of Volkswagen within in the company.
“I like doing it, and they like having me there – they like having someone who thinks Volkswagen is the best,” he chuckles.
After five decades in the VW business, John has reached a pinnacle position within the worldwide company, receiving in December 2018 the “Diamond Pin” Award.
Travelling to Germany with his wife, Lorraine, John received the award at the Volkswagen AGs International Dealers Commendation Day.
“The Diamond Pin Award has been awarded over the past 60 years – whereby Volkswagen have selected recipients from across the globe who epitomise the company’s values. This is the second time in that history that an Australian has received the award. The award is for your commitment, professionalism and dedication to Volkswagen.
“It is the pinnacle of awards in the Volkswagen company,” John states with pride and humility.
So, what is it about the Volkswagen brand that John loves so much?
“Well, I think because it was the first,” he smiles. “And when ‘The Factory’ returned to Australia in 2000, we again became business partners.
“I love my Volkswagen, and I drive a Tiguan at present, but might change to a full electric Volkswagen ‘ID’ when it arrives later in 2020.”
John has the pick of the brands, and chooses to drive a VW to this day – his dedication towards the brand shines through.
(The VW group is Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, SEAT, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Bentley, Porsche, MAN, Scania, and they are the biggest producer by volume of motor vehicles in the world.)
John’s pride and joy is his VW 332 Beetle (built November 1971 – pictured), which is the exact build date and model of the first car he sold at Macquarie Auto Port.
“I had been searching for many, many years to find the same car, and one day the search paid off. It’s not the exact car, but it is the exact model, so I had to get it,” John smiles.
In his shed, along with the Beatle is a 1942 Chevrolet truck.
“It is the same model that Dad, Mum and I travelled in to Port Macquarie in 1954.”
Having reached the top now in the VW Dealership, John plans to stay on, “for as long as they’ll have me”.
Congratulations, John and all who have contributed to the success of Volkswagen in Port Macquarie.