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Wednesday, 20 March 2019 02:56 pm

From horses, carts to trucks, Garritys’ still on the road.



Every Garrity truck has its own name – just like the horses did when the company began 125 years ago.

The first truck Rodney Garrity named was Blue Mule, and fellow co-owner and cousin Ian Garrity drove Moody Blue for 18 years.

Rodney Garrity with the truck he drives.

“I drive Midnight Blue and we have a new one coming soon that will continue the theme,” says  Rodney.

Back in 1893 it was those horses and their carts that great-grandfather Sam Garrity needed a bank account for when he first walked into the BNZ branch in Greytown.

Currently the fourth generation owners of the family business,  Ian and Rodney, still use that same bank account.

At its centenary 25 years ago, the BNZ gave the company a plaque commemorating their unbroken loyalty to the bank.

Garrity Bros has undergone some fairly large changes since Sam’s day at the helm although they still do the same agricultural and cartage work.

After his death in 1923, sons George, James (Jimmy) and Cecil took over the business and turned it into Garrity Brothers, the forerunner of the partnership that exists today.

They did a lot of work for the old Featherston County Council, Greytown Borough Council and the Wairarapa Catchment Board – all organisations that no longer exist today.

Max Garrity is a fountain of anecdotal stories about the Garrity family and the trucking business they run.

The brothers bought the company’s first motorised vehicle – a Leyland with solid tyres in 1924. It worked alongside the 25 or so Clydesdale horses. Sometimes they had as many as 40 horses, according to a book written for the centenary.

One of the jobs they used the truck for was to cart bridge girders for the Featherston County which required a pilot. Their pilot rode a horse.

Business was doing well over the years, so that when the Great Depression hit New Zealand they were able to survive without any staff cutbacks.

Everyone made some sacrifices but no one got laid off said Max Garrity, 91, the oldest surviving grandson of company founder, Sam Garrity.

Max told those gathered at the birthday celebrations on Saturday April 29 many old stories from the early years including the tale behind Ivy Garrity’s Chevy truck.

“In 1937 Jimmy and Cecil, after much debate, decided they needed a new truck. They approached the bank and were turned down for a loan. Ivy Garrity, Jimmy’s wife, was despatched to ask her father, James Maxwell, for a loan.

Ivy’s father decided to lend the money with a condition and so the Company found itself with a new Chevy Truck with the Garrity name and logo on the door, but Ivy Garrity’s name on the ownership papers.

In 1939 Garrity Brothers acquired a second Chevy truck. Early the following year the army turned up to commandeer all of the vehicles the Company had, and they never saw the 39 Chevy again.

It is thought that Garrity Bros have carted roading metal for every road in the old Featherston County, they became well known for carting hay into every hayshed in the Hutt Valley – and this was prior to World War II over the old Remutaka Hill road.

Lance McHardy and the truck he’s driven for so long the company put his name on it.

They have been carting bobby calves since 1938.

Both Ian and Rodney talked about how lucky Garrity Bros have been with staff – over the years many stayed for very long periods of time.

One of those is driver Lance McHardy. He first worked for Garrity’s while doing his spray painting apprensticeship over 40 years ago.

He has seen three generations of Garrity managers, dating back to Ian and Rodney’s grandfathers and great uncles.

Lance keeps leaving and coming back to work for Garrity Bros. The last time he left to drive logging trucks for Fearons’.

“When they got sold, I came back again, and now, I’m on call,” he said.

Over the last 50 odd years a number of teachers from nearby Kuranui College supplemented the driver numbers for the hay season.

Ian, Isobella, Christina and Rodney Garrity cutting the birthday cake

Garrity’s has a special relationship with the Lions’ Club in Greytown. Over the years, Garrity Bros have supported many Lions Club fundraising efforts.

Lion’s Club member and former Garrity Bros driver Bruce Farley said the Club offered to do the barbecue for the celebrations as a thank you to Garrity Bros for all their support of the club. John Garrity was also a Lions Club member.

Martin and Warren ran the business in the third generation of Garritys with their cousin John until 1989. John was elected to the Greytown Borough Council in 1980, elected Mayor in 1983, and then Mayor of South Wairarapa District in 1989.

Ian Garrity, right, with his sons Jade and Blake, and grandson, Austin – fourth, fifth and sixth generations of the family

In that year the fourth generation, Ian and Rodney, bought the business.

The stock crates are green and have been since Fullers built three new crates in the early 50’s and painted them with green effluent proof paint.

At the lunch celebrations a birthday cake was cut by Christina and Isabella, widows of two of the third generation owners of the business. Christina is also Rod’s mother.

The company was presented with a certificate by Sandy Walker from the Road Transport Association, who said it was possible that Garrity Bros was one of, if not, the oldest privately owned family trucking businesses in the country.

Ian and Rodney thanked former and current staff, saying that without them none of it would have been possible.

Both Ian and Rodney have sons working in the trucking industry. Ian’s sons work for Garrity Bros and Rodney’s son works for another freight firm.

If Ian’s infant grandson stays in the business he will be the sixth generation descendant from founder Sam Garrity.




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