5 December 2016 · History

Dwyer's Motor Group History

The Dwyer Family History "Coaches To Cars"

The Dwyer family has a proud history in the automotive industry. From humble beginnings as blacksmith and farriers, onto coach builders and subsequently automobiles. Established in 1898 as the “East Gippsland Coach Factory” Dwyer's is family owned and operated still to this day.

Coaches To Cars
Coaches To Cars

1898

1898

The Dwyer’s story starts with Jeremiah Dwyer.  A young man who built a small shop in Nicholson Street, Bairnsdale.  He operated as the General Blacksmith and Farrier before the Boer War.

1902

1902

The buildings were extended to the rear and Jeremiah added farm implement repair to the shop’s repertoire.  The construction of stables and grain storage facilities were a welcome addition for the expanding business.

1906

1906

Jeremiah married Jane Giles from Meerlieu and together they built a home. Their first house was at Picnic Point, then ‘Broadacres’ which is now 24 Riley Street, West Bairnsdale.

1908

1908

Jeremiah’s business was in full swing.  The building of buggies, jinkers, drays, wagons and carts was non-stop.  Jeremiah’s service offered everything from built to order or time payment to free stabling for customers.  Even then, service was the corner stone of the Dwyer experience.

1912

1912

Jeremiah’s business was listed for the first time as the ‘East Gippsland Coach Factory’ and now offered “Wheelwright Rubber Tyring” while-you-wait.  A side line Paint and Trim business began to operate.

1914

1914

The advent of World War One saw the introduction of vehicle servicing by Dwyer’s.  Jeremiah drove an Oakland car from Picnic Point each day.  The family business was now advertised as “opposite the Post Office”. The town of Bairnsdale continued to flourish.  Our first phone number was 94 – how things have changed since then – The number grew to 3094, to 523094 to 51523094.  Our history is built into so many different aspects of our business today.

1920

1920

The family expands and Jeremiah and Jane Dwyer welcome three children.  Kathleen, the eldest married Tom McMahon and they were blessed with two boys John and Michael.  John, the middle child married Clare Suding and had two children – Kevin and Carmel.  Sadly Frank Dwyer, Jeremiah’s youngest died in 1943 whilst serving for the R.A.A.F during the war.

1927

1927

In an exciting move Dwyer’s is accepted as a franchise for English car maker Hillman and Rover.  John Dwyer starts working with the family business on the 27th October – his innings lasts 43 years.

1929

1929

Dwyer’s becomes the first garage to introduce Duco spraying, as well as selling the American cars Rugby and Graham Paige.  Then disaster strikes with The Great Depression.  Dwyer’s survives through their resourcefulness and by employing a barter system for the community.  People who owed money paid their bills with home grown fruits and vegetables.  A pumpkin or a chicken in payment for a service!  This practice continued for many years – but it was tough for a small business to survive.

1933

1933

John Joseph Dwyer married Margaret Clare Suding at St Mary’s Church Bairnsdale in 1934 (Kevin Dwyer Parents)

1937

1937

This year sees the introduction of Diamond T trucks and the popular Austin cars.  Austin remains with Dwyer’s until 1968.  The Austin 7 horsepower retailed for £199; it’s mind boggling to think what it would be worth now!

1939

1939

The variety of cars in the Dwyer’s business is ever expanding, and it now includes models such as Dodge, Hudson and Chrysler.  The fierce competition in the workplace means that new ways need to be found to entice customers.  But then World War ll started and everything changed.  Vehicle supplies start to peter out and sales drop and now our country calls for help.  All manufacturing changes to war production and the war effort also takes the valued staff; many are recruited to fight for King and country.  The workshop undertakes the engineering work for the Land Army and the Bairnsdale R.A.A.F Base and this too stretches the capacity of the growing business.

1943

1943

Joined VACC (Victorian Automotive Chamber Of Commerce) -Membership number 35.

1946

1946

The war ends and life starts to return to some sense of normality.  The decision is made to demolish all of the old buildings – the stables, grain store – and a huge auction is held. Everything that is not tied down is sold – brass lamps, equipment, buggies.  Everything that does not sell is packed up and thrown in the tip.  

Unfortunately it is too late to realise that a lot of history is also sold or thrown away.  

Modernisation is the new catch-phrase and with some regret a link to the past disappears.

1949

1949

A saddlery is rented from Jeremiah by a Mr Darcy on the corner of Nicholson and Bailey Streets.  Again expansion is necessary and additional space becomes an urgent needs.

Darcy relocates to 93-101 Main Street and Dwyer’s now occupies a key spot in the town of Bairnsdale.

Austin cars are doing a roaring trade.  The Austin A30, A40, A70, A90 are running out the door; so much so that demand vastly exceeds supply.

1951

1951

The popularity of cars from the Austin Motor Company means that vehicles are now shipped from Longbridge, England. 

They are packed in Baltic pine crates for the trip to Melbourne, loaded onto semi-trailers by Bairnsdale’s leading transport company and driven directly to Dwyer’s – for assembly and de-waxing! A very crude and original assembly line. 

Our expansion was faster than the local infrastructure, which we learnt to our detriment. One driver was caught out by the Stratford railway bridge; crated cars were stacked two high and did not fit – the call was put out for drivers to go via Maffra!

1955

1955

The family connection is maintained when Kevin Dwyer (John’s son) starts work in the spare parts department. 

Austin and Dodge are still the main franchises, but now the vehicles are ferried in a convoy by road – a long slow drive at 30mph – six hours from Melbourne to Bairnsdale.

1964

1964

The family connection is maintained when Kevin Dwyer (John’s son) starts work in the spare parts department.  Austin and Dodge are still the main franchises, but now the vehicles are ferried in a convoy by road – a long slow drive at 30mph – six hours from Melbourne to Bairnsdale.

1967

1967

Kevin Dwyer married Kay Jackson, from Sale.

A very happy day, the next generation begins and life moves on for the firm.

1969

1969

Dwyer’s are now dealers for the Leyland Motor Corporation.  Jaguar and Daimler are still selling well, but the Nicholson Street dealership is now too small for the expanding business.  So a new place is created at 93-101 Main street and is marketed as a quality used car display.

1971

1971

Nissan Motor Company, a Japanese product, makes inroads in Australia and Dwyer’s Datsun starts at 93-101 Main Street.  The Datsun cars are popular and become known for being good vehicles that are trouble free.

1975

1975

Kevin and Kay now have three children – Maigan, Susan and Anthony –Leyland P76 big car. Value for money.

1978

1978

The 19th of October sees the opening of Unipart on the corner of Nicholson and Bailey Streets.  It marketed as Vehicle Spare Parts and Auto Accessories.  It is a self-selection mini mart.  Rover and Landrover still form part of the car sales and sell very well in this period.

1984

1984

A name change occurs that in fact is costly and unnecessary.  Dwyer’s Datsun changes to Dwyer’s Nissan and the change costs manufacturers and retailers thousands in market share and huge costs in marketing.

1989

1989

The end of another era occurs with the sale of 93-101 Main Street.  The used vehicle operation is moved to part of the Errol Stewart Ford site at 449 Princes Highway.

1991

1991

In what will be a significant and long association, Dwyer’s is appointed Toyota dealer for East Gippsland.  This sees the final move away from the historical birthplace of downtown Bairnsdale to the Princes Highway site opposite the East Gippsland Hospital.  This move and the resulting refurbishment and upgrade means increased staff numbers, and a better way to deal with the loyal and growing customer base.

1993

1993

Dwyer’s success begins to grow with Toyota Presidents’ Excellence Awards, as well as Toyota Rural Dealer of the Year, Individual Awards for Service and Parts. The awards that are particularly celebrated are the Excellence Business Management Awards and Customer Satisfaction.  This period heralds success after some lean years; the seasons are constantly changing in the car industry and in Australia.

1995

1995

Dwyer’s success enables them to purchase land to the east of the premises; the Cuthbertson and Richards sawmill.  A new showroom is built and Japanese Mitsubishi and Korean Daewoo are added to the operation.  This addition enables Dwyer’s to offer a large range and choice of cars for their customers; it again allows the family business to expand their employee base and adds another layer to the business model.

1996

1996

In December of this year, Dwyer’s expanded into the City of Sale, taking over the Toyota / Suzuki dealership in York Street.  It is considered and marketed to be a branch operation of the Bairnsdale site and both sites are connected by one computer system.

1997

1997

Lui Mosele, Dwyer’s longest serving employee, retires after 48 years. Lui held a unique position in the history of Dwyer’s.  He has covered all four generations; joining in 1948 as Jeremiah was taking a step back, seeing John and Kevin expand the business, and retiring shortly after Kevin’s son Anthony joined the business in January.  Lui’s loyalty and longevity is celebrated.  

1998

1998

One Hundred Years in Business is celebrated.  The years seemed to have flashed by.  Time is taken to think over the journey, to celebrate the highs and lows, and marvel at Dwyer’s survival.  The long-term view of the business has kept it on an even keel and Dwyer’s acknowledges the loyal support of customers and staff over the one hundred years. Dwyer’s can say with honesty that they are here for the long run with a vehicle for everyone.

2000

2000

The ‘Millennium Bug’ sees Dwyer’s prepare with costly computer upgrades – but it is shown to be much ado about nothing, however the computer systems are now top notch!

2001

2001

Dwyer’s is appointed Daihatsu Dealer, owned and operated by Toyota, in both Bairnsdale and Sale.  The Europcar Vehicles Rentals franchise for Gippsland which started in Sale is now expanded to Bairnsdale.  Presentation to Dwyer’s from Esanda, a great association which started for Dwyer’s as English, Scottish and Australian Bank over thirty years ago!

2002

2002

This year is a very successful year for Dwyer’s.  Toyota Presidents’ Award again, Rural Dealer of the Year again and the Parts and Service Departments receive the Silver Excellence Awards.  Dwyer’s are also recognised for excellence in Business Management.  Again, from a business perspective, one of the most important recognitions is for the Customer Service and Satisfaction.

2003

2003

Martin Boyle is recognised by Toyota for his outstanding service, loyalty and dedication to the franchise 1973-2003.

2004

2004

A big year for Dwyer’s personally and professionally.  Anthony Dwyer marries Dayna Battams from Loxton, South Australia.  The buildings and car parks are expanded yet again enabling Dwyer’s to better display their range of cars and service them to the best of their ability.

2006

2006

Dwyer’s is again rewarded for our hard work with the Rural Dealer of the Year Award.  Parts / Service / Sales Excellence Awards also follow and the endeavour to help everyone find their vehicle is still the mainstay of the business.

Peter Trimnell, who was recruited directly from school, notches up the significant milestone of thirty years with the family business.  Peter’s wife Anne and their four children celebrated at Dwyer’s with guests and staff where there was a presentation and speeches – it was a night of celebration and memories.

Dwyer’s resolves to sell the Sale site and expand Bairnsdale.  New fascia and automatic electric doors are installed; it really seems like the expansions and planning never ends.

2007

2007

Dwyer’s are proud to be named Rural Dealer of the Year again.  They also receive the Sales Excellence Gold Award.  The popular Toyota Aurion outsells the Ford Falcon for the first time in our Prime Market Area (PMA).

Anthony and Dayna welcome Lily Grace Dwyer to their family and there are celebrations all around as Kevin Dwyer turns seventy.  It was a big year for the family.

2008

2008

For the third year in a row, Dwyer’s are named Rural Dealer of the Year.  They also receive the prestigious Toyota Presidents’ Award for the third time.  Dwyer’s draws up some big expansion plans but they are held up by shire bureaucracy for some time.  Nevertheless, the business looks forward determined to succeed and offer the best service they can to the people of East Gippsland and beyond.

2009

2009

Another big year for Dwyer’s.  Anthony and Dayna welcome their second child, Joseph James Dwyer to their family. 

After 55 years in the top job, Kevin Dwyer hands over the reins to his son Anthony who is announced as his successor and the new Dealer Principal.

2010

2010

For an amazing fifth consecutive year Dwyer’s is named Toyota Rural Dealer of the Year.  Dwyer’s is also appointed the Volkswagen dealer for the East Gippsland region for Passenger and Commercial vehicles by Volkswagen Australia.

Works finally commence on the new state of the art facility adjoining the existing premises, which allow Dwyer’s to employ an additional five staff.  The new franshise is a steep learning curve with the new products and services, but is immediately popular with the local area.

2011

2011

Dwyer’s celebrates twenty years with Toyota in Bairnsdale.  35 years of service are acknowledged for Peter Trimnell (Sales Manager) and 20 years for Reg Holt (Accountant), Kay Miller (Administration) and Martin Boyle (Sales).  Mark Mason also notches up 20 years.  This is an incredible milestone for any business.  Their loyalty and longevity is celebrated and acknowledged – without them Dwyer’s would not continue to be such a successful and family orientated business.

2013

2013

After an 18 year association Dwyer’s leaves the Mitsubishi partnership.  The decision is made to join Chrysler Jeep Dodge, an immediately successful move.  Rural Dealer of the Year is achieved again for both Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Volkswagen.

Expansion works are again completed, this time it is the Detailing Shed, new fences, water storage and fire service ring mains that are installed.

Dwyer’s Bairnsdale PMA now has 17 franchises compared to seven in 1975, which makes Dwyer’s very competitive.

2015

2015

After some long and detailed planning a huge new building program is in progress.  A new workshop and parts storage is constructed with equipment and staff having to be re-located whilst it is under construction.  Dwyer’s acquired the top quality and locally well-known Riveria Panels body and paint business which takes them directly back to their roots.

Expansion works are again completed, this time it is the Detailing Shed, new fences, water storage and fire service ring mains that are installed.

Dwyer’s Bairnsdale PMA now has 17 franchises compared to seven in 1975, which makes Dwyer’s very competitive.

2016

2016

The introduction of RAM, a large American Cummins engine dual cab truck, sees Dwyer’s expand their range even further.  It is great for towing and therefore appeals to the local market.  The replacement of the main dealership beings, which enables Dwyer’s to operate at the standard required to grow with Gippsland.

Anthony and Dayna welcome the arrival of their third child Louis Anthony Dwyer.

Dwyer's Motor Group History 2017 Update
Dwyer's Motor Group History