Happy Birthday to us, Pegasus Rental Cars!

2019 marks 30 years of Pegasus Rental Cars being one of the largest, independently owned, second tier car rental companies in New Zealand. The ‘birth’ of which has had one of the most influential and far reaching consequences for the domestic and international traveller in New Zealand.

Being a ‘second tier’ rental car company, positioned second to the well known, existing brands, has provided an affordable alternative to the international brands by offering quality, second-hand vehicles for the budget conscious traveller.

This innovative concept was developed by Kevin Lamb while attending a business course in 1989. Part of his course requirement was to write a new business plan. His idea was to set up a rental car company offering an alternative option to the existing market of higher-priced, new rental cars.

He was inspired to name the company “Pegasus Rental Cars” after Pegasus Bay, located on the east coast near Christchurch, where a beautiful sandy beach runs from Banks Peninsula to the Waipara River mouth.

In 1989, the new business called Pegasus really did ‘grow wings and fly’! It was assisted in the beginning by some crucial factors enabling it to grow from a start-up to an established brand with the 14 branches across New Zealand we have today. The first was during the 1980s there was a significant growth of the tourist industry. Secondly, in the late 1980s, the New Zealand Government’s Motor Industry Development Plan reduced tariffs on imported vehicles, making it much more cost efficient to import second-hand cars from Japan.

Kevin had the foresight to take advantage of these factors as the importing of second hand cars from Japan was a relatively new concept back then. It meant that you could import a second hand car direct from Japan at better rates than buying an equivalent second hand New Zealand new vehicle. And, these Japanese direct vehicles were a much higher spec than the New Zealand equivalent – such as air conditioning, which was not common in New Zealand new cars at the time but every Japanese imported car had this along with many other features not seen in the New Zealand equivalents.

These made ideal rental cars and, because of the lower cost of buying the vehicles, they could be hired at a much lower rate than competitors – contributing to the growth of the second tier car rental market of which Pegasus was one of the original players.

The first Pegasus office was situated in Peterborough Street, Christchurch and the first franchise was sold in Nelson, followed by Picton/Blenheim. The original Christchurch office was then sold as a franchise and an additional franchise servicing the Christchurch Airport was launched. Next in the Pegasus family was the Auckland Airport and Auckland city branches, then Whangarei, Wellington, Queenstown, Dunedin and Invercargill.

Pegasus Rental Cars Dunedin City Branch.

It operated this way for a number of years with Kevin as the Head Franchisor alongside Kerry and Nicki Downer, who were the original owners of the Nelson franchise, as co-owners of the master franchise, operating everything from Nelson.

In 2003 Kerry and Nicki sold their master franchise to Gary Ashley whilst still retaining their Nelson Franchise. Gary then expanded the group into Hamilton, Napier, South Auckland, Taupo, Tauranga, Rotorua, New Plymouth and Greymouth. Gary later decided to change his career path and Kevin took it over again.

In 2012 Kevin sold the business to Adam Parore, a former top Kiwi cricketer, who still owns it today. Adam was a wicket keeper and batsman for the New Zealand cricket team, the Black Caps. He played 78 test cricket matches and 179 One Day Internationals during his time on the team.

One of the key initiatives that Adam developed within the organisation was to create a Management Team, consisting of three Franchise owners based in Auckland and Dunedin. This structure allocates some control back to those on the ground managing the Pegasus’ offices. This aligns well with Pegasus’ mission to provide affordable car rental with exceptional service.