Isuzu takes a 'huge double leap forward'
The "finest Isuzu dealers in Europe" have opened at new premises in Co Antrim and Co Derry
THE importance of the Northern Ireland market for pick-up experts Isuzu and the high esteem in which its dealers are held was emphasised when two new showrooms were officially opened by not one but a pair of managing directors.
Japanese executive Mikio Tsukui, who heads up the brand's operations in Europe, and William Brown, the managing director of Isuzu in the UK, launched new premises for John Barr Cars in Antrim and Eakin Bros in Maydown.
Both dealers have made significant investments to establish state-of-the-art showrooms and service departments.
"They are very highly regarded in our network," said Mr Tsukui, the managing director and chief executive officer of Isuzu Europe.
"Eakin Bros have an outstanding 96 year pedigree, are third generation motor dealers and have represented Isuzu from the earliest days in the UK; John Barr Cars are a young company that have expanded rapidly and consistently with Isuzu and in a short time have outgrown each of their previous Isuzu locations in Dundrod and Crumlin through consistent high sales.
"They are each top-class representatives for our brand, and a pleasure to have within the global Isuzu family."
Eakin Bros and John Barr Cars are each top-class representatives for our brand, and a pleasure to have within the global Isuzu family
- Mikio Tsukui, Isuzu Europe MD
For Mr Tsukui, the visit also had a personal significance - his mother grew up in Ireland - though he didn't get a chance to play golf.
"My mother grew up in Armagh, was educated in Dublin, and she always told me what a beautiful island this is," he said.
"She was right - your coastline and countryside are very beautiful. I have thoroughly enjoyed today’s visit.
"I would like to return and play a round of golf at Portrush - your links courses are very famous in Japan."
Mr Tsukui praised John Barr Cars and Eakin Bros for the planning and investment they had undertaken "to take their businesses to the next level".
"It is a good news story in challenging times, and testament to the dealers' abilities," he said.
"Both are delivering great progress and it is my intention to ensure we keep building the best pick-ups in the market to send to their many loyal customers.
"Isuzu build only commercial vehicles; every Isuzu is designed to work as hard as their Northern Ireland owners do.
"We invest heavily in research and development and are very proud of our five-year/125,000 miles warranty and reputation for reliability, as well as value for money."
The UK is Isuzu's biggest export market and Mr Tsukui said it was "very important for Isuzu Japan to maintain that strong position".
"We now supply several major fleets and utilities in Northern Ireland - the investments by John Barr Cars and Eakin Bros in bigger and better new locations will ensure that individual buyers and business customers each get the attention they expect and deserve."
Mr Brown described the new dealer facilities as a "huge double leap forward".
"Customers old and new will benefit greatly from bigger and better facilities," he said.
"It's no exaggeration to say these new sites are the finest Isuzu dealers in Europe - all credit to each of our dealers.
"Of course, our network is not just about glamorous buildings, and year after year John Barr Cars and Eakin Bros have won multiple dealer of the year awards in both sales and aftersales, by delivering good old-fashioned customer service and thorough attention to detail in every aspect of their businesses."
Mr Brown said it was important that both dealer businesses benefited from active family involvement in 'hands on' roles.
It's no exaggeration to say these new sites are the finest Isuzu dealers in Europe
- William Brown, Isuzu UK MD
"Isuzu place great faith in families and teamwork - it is fundamental to the Japanese business ethic," he explained.
"The dealer network is our family in the UK, and customer satisfaction flows if we get relationships right.
"Isuzu UK differs from our competitors - we specialise in pick-ups, not cars; we don’t partner with the big faceless motor groups, nor overprice products to discount heavily later which destroys residual values and the customers' investment.
"We build great pick-ups, fairly priced, and strong residual values for D-Max ensure the best contract hire rates in the industry."
Isuzu has five dealers in Northern Ireland: Eakin Bros in Maydown, Co Derry; Gormley Motors in Dungannon, Tyrone; John Barr Cars in Antrim; Western Cars in Enniskillen, Fermanagh; and Desmond Eastwood Motors in Lisburn, Co Antrim.
PETER Eakin said it meant a lot to staff, customers and the Eakin family that Mr Tsukui and Mr Brown had both come to Maydown to open the new site.
"It is overwhelming to have the first ever visit to Northern Ireland by a Japanese director and it speaks volumes about how important our market is to Isuzu," he said.
"We are delighted to have Maydown fully operational. Isuzu build the finest pick-ups in the market and we are absolutely delighted to continue to be their sole representatives for Isuzu and their specialist Arctic Truck brand in the north west."
Eakin Bros Isuzu, Carrakeel Drive, Maydown, Co Derry, BT47 6UQ. 028 7193 3859
JOHN Barr said his team had worked long hours and late nights to get the new Antrim showroom "ready and shipshape" for the official opening.
"The last few months have been a delight seeing all the plans come together," he said.
"We are truly pleased to finally be operational in our new home opposite Junction 1 Retail Park in Antrim.
"Customers old and new are very welcome to come along and have a look round our facilities.
"The new site will service Antrim for Isuzu and Arctic Trucks - the next exciting chapter has been launched.
"Isuzu have just started shipping the completely new range flagship, D-Max XTR, and we look forward to having that in pride of place in our new showroom."
John Barr Cars, Springfarm Industrial Estate, Ballymena Road, Antrim, BT41 4NZ. 028 9452 5850