Located right in the heart of Roxburgh is Robb’s garage with its convenient fuel stop and mechanical garage. Managing director Colin Robb is the third generation from the family to run the garage since it opened in 1921.
Our trading hours are as follows
Workshop & Office – Mon – Fri 8am – 5pm
Petrol Station – Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm – W/ends 8.30am – 6pm
Here is a lovely article published in both the Otago Daily Times & Central Otago: News:
A century and counting in the motor trade for the family business
AS Robb’s Garage in Roxburgh approaches 100 years in business, the Robb family is looking forward to celebrating. Managing director Colin Robb is the third generation from the family to run the Central Otago establishment since it opened in 1921. Having worked there for over 60 years – since three days before he turned 15 – he has a lot to reflect on as the centenary nears. ‘‘It’s quite an honour really, we’re very proud of it,’’ Colin says.
With the garage having been at the heart of the local community for so long, the history of the business is something that remains important to the family.
Robb’s Garage still offer a broad range of services to the local community, and those travelling through. Until the early 1990s they were a Ford dealer, selling new cars, trucks, and tractors. ‘‘We still sell new utes and cars,’’ Colin says. ‘‘Not so many of course, and we still sell quite a lot of second hand vehicles. And we service all sorts of vehicles now, not just Ford. Now it’s more across everything will all the different customers.’’
The workshop, which Colin’s son Michael manages, is a very busy part of the operation. While much has changed in the industry, much remains the same.
‘‘We still have a lot of parts for the older tractors so that’s pretty cool,’’ Colin says. ‘‘But with computers and all the stuff cars have these days, it’s really changed over the years from what it was. It’s not too bad though – when you’ve been in it all your life you still understand it pretty well.’’
Having enjoyed witnessing huge changes in the automotive industry, he relates that in recent years Robb’s have had to salvage a lot of electric cars and tow them to the charging station.
But of course the garage has been offering roadside assistance to Automobile Association members since 1938. ‘‘We’re old hands at it,’’ Colin says. ‘‘We do a lot of AA work, breakdowns and roadside assists, and for quite a few of the other companies as well. We have a towtruck for salvage work.’’
The fuel stop at Robb’’s Garage is part of the Allied Petroleum network, which is owned by the Richardson Group in Southland. Colin says it’s great being part of a New Zealand owned independent fuel company. The fuel stop is open 24/7, and accepts Allied Fuel Card, Mobilcard, and Ruralco Card. ‘‘It’s still a busy industry, the petrol side of it,’’ Colin says. ‘‘We get quite a lot of customers through on busy weekends. Summertime is very steady, and it gets a little quieter in the winter.’’
To celebrate reaching the 100 year mark, the Robb family will be celebrating with a get-together and a meal out at Labour Weekend, with over 50 people coming. And on the Sunday of the same weekend, there will be a public celebration of the centenary in Roxburgh. ‘‘We’re going to line all my old cars up on the main street,’’ Colin says. ‘‘And we’ll have a cup of tea from10am to 3pm, and put a bit of memorabilia around the place. We’re also running an instore raffle just for people who call in and put their name in the hat.’’
Looking back on a lifetime working in the family business at Robb’s Garage, Colin reflects that it’s been an interesting life- and that he hopes there’s more to come. ‘‘You meet a lot of interesting people, and so many different organisations, and you can help them out,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s been good. I hope it keeps ticking along for quite some years yet.’’
Robb’s Garage Timeline
1920 – Syd Robb takes over the lease or management of Teviot Garage in Scotland Street, Roxburgh.
1921 – Syd Robb purchases the Teviot Garage in Scotland Street, Roxburgh. At this time it also operated as a Blacksmith Shop. Included as part of the business purchase were two Cadillacs which were used for passenger and freight service to the Beaumont railhead until the rail came to Millers Flat in 1925 and Roxburgh in 1928. Syd converted the shed side of the stone workshop into an office and painted `Robb’s’ on it.
1921/22 – A.H Stringer was employed as a mechanic.
1924_26 – Syd Robb built what is now the garages workshop _one of the original stone walls next to the office can still be seen as part of the building. The concrete blocks used in its constructions were individually made in the back yard by a block layer. The building was designed by architect Wales (Nathanial Wales?) and was very modern for its time.
1926 – The garage had the agency for Dodge, Studebaker, Overlander and Willys Knight.
1928 – Petrol pumps were added for Plume (now Mobil) and Voco (a subsidiary of Mobil.) The garage sold Mobil fuel up until 2003. The first underground fuel tanks at the garage held just 250 gallons.
1933/34 – Syd’s son Don Robb become the driver of a 1924-26 Citroen nicknamed `The Pup’ which was used for the Coal Creek mail run.
1935 – Ownership of Robbs Garage was transferred to Syd’s wife Dorothy, after he died the year previous. Dorothy continued to run the garage with sons Don, Ken & Gary.
1936 – The Shingle Creek school bus run was added to the business.
1938 – Don Robb, aged 20, took over the ownership of the garage. The garage began offering roadside assistance from the Automobile Associatation.
1939 – World War II saw nationwide petrol restrictions.
1941 – Don was drafted into the Mounted Rifles before transferring to the Air Force where he served as a flight mechanic. The garage staff left to serve in the war so Don sealed the pumps and closed the garage doors.
1945 – Don sought early discharge from the Air Force to return to the garage _ this was not easily granted. He later learned opposition proprieters Tough, Pearson and Findlay had given the necessary endorsements and references for his return home.
1949 – Robb’s Garage were appointed as the authorised Ford dealers for the Roxburgh district. The franchise grew and at the peak of the Hydro days sixteen staff were employed. Don opened a petrol station at the Roxburgh Hydro village during the early days of dam construction work and fuel sales at both the Roxburgh and Hydro outlets topped Mobil sales in Otago for several years.
1656 – A new office block was built on the side of the workshop, replacing the old one.
1957 – The present forecourt, pumps, lube bay and showroom were added.
1961 – Don’s son Colin Robb began his mechanics apprenticeship and became the third generation to work at the garage.
1982 – Colin became managing director, taking over the business management of the garage. Don `retired’ coming in each day to work on the forecourt until 1999.
1990 – Colin’s son Mike Robb began his mechanic’s apprenticeship, becoming the fourth generation to work at the garage.
1992 – The forecourt was covered by a canopy to protect from rain and sun.
1997 – Restructuring by Ford led to Ford agencies being solely in larger centres. Robbs Garage became a Ford Service Centre and are now sub-agents for Dunedin City Ford.
2003 – The existing Mobil petrol and diesel storage tanks were dug up and replaced with privately owned double skinned replacement tanks, serviced by Allied, a subsidiary of Mobil. The new storage capacity was 20,000 litres diesel and 30,000 liters petrol.
2021 – Robbs Garage celebrates 100 years of business with the Robb family at the helm.