From the big leagues to Turua
He may have retired from motor sports, but twice World Touring Car champ Paul Radisich is still ahead.
Slipping in behind the wheel of family business Aegis Oil after hanging up his racing helmet for good, he says the company’s location in Turua is one of the things that gives it a competitive edge.
“There are too many advantages to doing business in Turua to seriously consider going anywhere else,” he says.
Paul was busy breaking into the international car racing scene when his dad, Frank, set up Aegis Oil 35 years ago. Owner of a West Auckland car dealership at the time, Frank went to the auction of an abandoned Caltex site in Turua and was the last man left with his hand up.
Paul joined the team following a career changing smash at Bathurst in 2008. He announced his retirement from international motor sports in 2009.
“I spent two years recovering in Europe so I had plenty of time to think about new challenges and opportunities ahead. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to come home and help take the family business to the next level.”
Based in South Auckland with his wife Patricia and daughters Jade and Emilia, he commutes daily to the Turua factory. Without breaking any speed limits the trip takes him less than an hour.
“It’s quicker than going the other way into the city, which can take up to two hours,” he says.
With customers in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Aegis Oil is the only New Zealand lubricants company blending here in New Zealand, which gives it the ability to provide a much greater range of products than its competitors.
“Everywhere else the oil is blended overseas. We bring in the base oil and additives as virgin products and blend for all sorts of different industries, from farming to automotive, marine, small engines, motorcycles and heavy industrial machinery too. Our range of products is second to none.”
Being in front comes naturally to Paul. Opportunities were few and far between when he first moved to Europe at the age of 21 to try to break into the car racing scene. Kiwis had to be twice as dedicated and work twice as hard as anyone else because they had fewer connections.
Before long, Paul’s natural skill and determination to succeed caught the attention of Ford and he was picked up as a works car driver. For the next ten years he tore around tracks in the US, South Africa, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
In 1993 and 1994 he won consecutive World Touring titles. Later he got the call to drive for five-time Australian champ and three-time Bathurst winner Dick Johnson in Australia.
Now, he’s found a new winner in Turua.
“We don’t need to be in the city. We have a great alliance with Toll who come through daily on the main trunk road from Tauranga and Auckland and we have no problem getting good local staff, who are very happy to be in work,” he says.
“The quality of life and cost of living here is second to none. More people are looking to relocate and enjoy the countryside.”
When it comes to suppliers, the company has the option of Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. For machinery and servicing, Thames is a short five-minute drive away. Paul says the Coromandel town is really starting to grow up.
The addition of the new Kopu bridge and upgrades to Turua main street, has seen an increase in traffic going through the town and lots of new opportunity. A Buy NZ Made ambassador, Paul is a great supporter of local products. All the company’s blending, filling, and packing happens in Turua.
“As a boutique oil company we’re able to move fast and make changes quickly. We help keep local industries going and we keep the money here. It’s a great spin-off to be able to help support the local community.”
Aegis is a Greek word for shield of protection. Looking further down the track, Paul is keen to continue to modernise and grow the business, and create more jobs in the local area.
“We absolutely want to expand and we absolutely want to stay in the area, there are just too many advantages here not to.”