The 19th of December marks Whites Powersports’ 70th anniversary, and we’re as proud as punch to have grown the company into an industry leading distributor on both sides of the Tasman.
To help celebrate the occasion, we are looking back at the company’s long and interesting history.
Come with us on a walk down memory lane…
W. White Wholesale (as we were known then) is incorporated by William (Bill) White and becomes New Zealand’s importer of Triumph, Velocette, Vespa and later, Yamaha.
Bill was a successful businessperson who in addition to W. Whites Wholesale, owned a chain of motorcycle stores throughout NZ, and even had a long run as Mayor of Newmarket, Auckland from 1957–1974.
Keith Larkin (current owner) leaves school at 15 and starts working at W. White Waikato Ltd, one of Bill’s motorcycle dealerships. Starting at the bottom, Keith mucks in with toilet cleaning and floor sweeping but much prefers ripping around Hamilton collecting parts on a Triumph Tigress sidecar.
Keith has an unsuccessful stint on the tools in the workshop. Realising his talents lie elsewhere, management move him into workshop reception and then sales, where he finds his calling chatting to likeminded riders about his true love — motorcycles.
Bill sells the agency for importing Yamaha to the Moller Corporation, New Plymouth, and it’s renamed Moller Yamaha. W. White Wholesale remains as a separate company importing motorcycle parts and accessories to its base in New Plymouth.
Keith starts Road and Sport Motorcycles Ltd along with his business partner. The business becomes New Zealand’s leading retailer of Suzuki motorcycles with two stores in Hamilton, a Suzuki Marine Dealer, and in 1989 a Harley-Davidson Dealer.
Moller Corporation moves Moller Yamaha to Auckland, while W. White (Wholesale) Ltd remains in New Plymouth, and Ross Clark stays on as an Area Rep before becoming Manager in 1993.
The New Plymouth W. White Wholesale premises just a few years before moving to Hamilton.
Before computerisation the mid ‘80s saw stock sales and purchasing records tracked via the giant box of Cardex cards seen here behind employee, Daphne Gordon.
The New Plymouth W. White Wholesale crew about to knock off for Christmas in 1993.
Keith sells his shares in Road and Sport Motorcycles Ltd after almost 25 years at the retail coal face.
Keith purchases W. White Wholesale Ltd from Mollers, and moves the business to Vialou Street, Hamilton where they continue to import and distribute high-quality gear, parts, and accessory brands such as Shoei and RK Chain.
The small team of just four includes Ross Clark, Craig Bretherton, Shirley Williams, and Keith’s Father-in-law — Terry Hunwick.
W. White Wholesale headquarter after Keith purchases the business and moves operations to Vialou Street, Hamilton.
Keith hard at work at the Vialou Street building.
As the list of reputable brands imported grows, the company undergoes a facelift and rebrands to Whites Powersports to better represent the variety of products on offer.
Keith and Ross visit the RK Chain stall at the Indianapolis trade show circa 2000.
Having already outgrown two Hamilton premises, the team move to a large custom-built facility in Pukete, Hamilton. As the company continues to grow, the building is extended to accommodate more staff and product.
Whites Powersports begins to catalogue model fitments to help customers and dealers find the right part for their particular make and model. Led by Ivan Clark, this process was initially painstakingly done by hand. Today, Whites Powersports boast over 4.5 million fitments for 30,000 Makes, Models, and Years.
Karewa Place forms Whites Powersports global HQ.
Keith is joined in the business by his son, Kyne Larkin, who returns from the UK and starts at Whites as an Area Manager and works his way up to his current position as CEO and shareholder.
Whites Powersports launches bits4bikes.co.nz, a B2C ecommerce website that enables retail customers to shop online for their powersports products, while still supporting their favourite local motorcycle dealer.
bits4bikes.co.nz offers kiwi powersports enthusiasts the ability to shop online.
The company continues to build business partnerships with revered and unique aftermarket parts, accessory, and apparel brands, acquiring NZ distributorship of Bridgestone motorcycle tyres, Leatt, Putoline motorcycle oils, and Goldfren.
Whites Powersports expands into Australia with the purchase of BMA (Birdman Accessories) in Melbourne and creates an industry leading B2B and B2C websites to assist Australian dealers and end users.
Whites Powersports spans the Tasman, beginning with infrastructure in Melbourne.
A warehouse is established in Perth to better serve W.A dealers, new brands are added to the AU stable, and the Melbourne Warehouse moves to a larger facility in Bayswater.
Karyn Larkin (Keith’s wife) picking orders in the Bayswater warehouse in true family style.
Whites Powersports acquires the New Zealand distributor of LS2 Helmets and Gaerne boots.
Further Australian expansion comes in the form of a Whites Powersports warehouse opening in Brisbane, and distribution of LS2 Helmets in Australia is acquired.
Having quickly outgrown the Bayswater warehouse, Melbourne operations move into a much larger facility in Boronia.
Ross Clark retires after more than 35 years with Whites. Craig Bretherton remains as an Area Manager to the present day.
Ross (right) finishes his 35 years of service at Whites and leaves his Manager role, only to come on board again two years later as a Fitments specialist.
In October, construction of a new Whites Powersports global HQ facility begins with a ground-breaking ceremony at 142 Kohia Drive, Hamilton. Due for completion in early 2024, the new site will feature state-of-the-art warehousing, offices, and showrooms.
Across the ditch, a new 5,500sqm warehouse is under construction in Willawong, Brisbane to keep pace with rapid growth. The team is set to move in March 2023.
Whites Powersports continues to expand with work beginning on a new headquarters in Hamilton.
Whites Powersports celebrates its 70th anniversary and is proud to:
- Employ over 85 staff across NZ and AU.
- Import and distribute 50 carefully selected, high quality, and value-for-money brands.
- Have over 4.5 million fitments available for over 30,000 makes and models.
- Support powersports dealers across Australasia with API integration and second-to-none sales and freight and logistics services.
- Connect end users to products and services that better enhance their powersports lifestyle.