A vehicle dealership is into its 47 years of existence on the local market.
Steele’s Auto Supplies started off business on February 17th 1969 at the back of the Grenada Bottling Company Factory at Tempe, St. George’s.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, Derick Steele told reporters that he commenced operation with just five people, and at the time placed an order for two vehicles.
Over the years, the space for the outlet was found to be too small, and operations was then moved to its current location at River Road, St. George’s which was owned by Ram Kirpilani up until 1978.
Steele outlined how he got into the business of vehicle dealership.
He spoke of undertaking a course of studies in Mechanical Engineering in England in 1962, and later worked in England with Ford Motor Company.
He returned to Grenada in 1967 and worked with McIntyre Brothers Limited, the local Agent for Ford.
According to Steele, he was offered the dealership of the Toyota brand of vehicles in 1968 by the Japanese and took it.
“We moved from 1969 with two vehicles to where we are now at present, I think one of the leading car dealers on the island, if not the leading car dealer on the island,” Steele said.
Steele’s Auto Supplies currently represents Toyota, Suzuki and Kia Motors on the local market.
In recent times, the Kia Rio has been identified as having the highest turn over of vehicles for the company.
The CEO admits that the competition is stiff among other vehicle dealers on the island, and stated that the biggest challenge now faced is cost of vehicles through the duties that have to be paid to government.
He also pointed fingers at the banks for “their strictness” in guaranteeing vehicle loans.
Steele’s Auto Supplies conducts mechanical work on those vehicles it sells, stocks a large volume of spare parts, and is believed to be the only car dealer on the island that give a 24-hour service to customers.
Steele gives the assurance that there will be someone to attend to a customer whatever day or night he may encounter a mechanical problem.
He also expressed satisfaction with the growth of the company.
“I am pleased to say that I have taken the company from where it started to where it is now. I feel great, I feel that we have achieved what we set out to achieve.
“I am now happy that I have my son now who is in charge. I have taken a back seat and Jonathan now is running the company.
Steele’s other son, Nicholas has turned to politics and is presently the Minister of Health in the 3-year old New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
Jonathan Steele who now serves as General Manager pledged his commitment to continually serving the customers better, and to find a way to always bring to them a higher service, better brands of vehicle and more value.
The General Manager was reluctant in blowing the company’s trumpet that it holds the market for the minibuses.
“In terms of buses, there are only two, so I’ll say it’s equal, we’re competing,” he said.
“I have seen sales increased (for the minibuses) and I will say that we’re gaining market,” he added.
The other major dealer of minibuses on the island is George F. Huggins and Company (Grenada) Limited.
Steele’s Auto Supplies currently has 42 members of staff including those at the management level.
The company also engages in an annual internship programme with students from the T.A. Marryshow Community College who are undergoing mechanical studies.