Fuel pumps outside Te Uku Store could be up and running again within the week in a round-the-clock service aimed at providing an “added level of convenience” to the small rural community — and to late-night or early morning Raglan travellers.
Both Waitomo Petroleum — a Hamilton-based boutique oil company making the investment — and the Four Square store on the same site believe the development can only be a good thing for locals and even the likes of Raglan-bound fishermen needing an early morning fill-up.
The two existing pumps are being replaced and an outdoor payment terminal will be installed, turning the petrol and diesel stop into an unmanned site which can be accessed 24/7 in a similar way to that of Gull stations.
Not that Waitomo Petroleum is in the same playing field as Gull, points out business development manager Jimmy Ormsby who lived in Okete until late last year and saw a need for petrol to be supplied locally.
He believes the service will be complementary to the Te Uku store — which is about to become the only remaining Four Square-branded outlet in the Raglan area — and the adjacent Te Uku Roast Office. “It’ll give that added level of convenience.”
Jimmy says the small second-tier oil company — started by his grandfather back in 1947 and now owned by his father — supports real communities and caters for rural customers. With a dozen or so unmanned diesel truck stops to its credit, the company is now covering new ground by adding petrol to the mix.
“It’s a bit of a pilot for Waitomo,” he admits, explaining a second company’s been set up to run the unmanned sites and it is this separate entity operating at Te Uku. “Hopefully we’re doing a good thing.”
Upgrading the site’s pumps and adding a payment terminal — which will operate independently of the store — represents a “significant” investment in the future of Waitomo, says Jimmy, which prides itself on being one of the longest-serving privately owned oil companies in the country.
The business does not import or refine oil. It purchases fuel from Mobil and sells it on to commercial clients and service stations, and now direct to the public at Te Uku. Motorists will be able to access the fuel with eftpos or credit cards, Mobilcard and Waitomo Card.
With the technology already on site it’s been a “convenient” move for the company, adds Jimmy. It requires only a licence fee to operate the pumps on the property owned by sisters Colleen Finlay and Sandra Kent, who run the store.
Colleen agrees reactivating the pumps “can only be a good thing”. She says the store got them back working about five years ago when Shell pulled out. “We did it for the locals,” she confesses.
But it was uneconomic and the pumps have been idle for about a year now. With “no cashflow” for them in petrol, the pair are now happy to lease their tanks to Waitomo.