After the last meander along a somewhat weedy memory lane I had call from a charming gentleman who had further information on FAC. His brief story answers the question posed to our hostess by a questioning mind, ‘What happened to FAC?’
Well, according to my chap, FAC was in a good way of business and probably asset rich after more than half a century of sound financial husbandry. In the 1960s – no doubt the late 1960s – in swooped one of the asset strippers. It was probably young Ron Brierley though we are not certain.
At any rate, these business buccaneers would plunder the subject company by selling off assets and ‘restructuring’ the business to make it look like a streamlined commercial entity – not a fatted calf but streamlined and fully functioning in the ‘modern’ sense. They would then pocket the surplus cash. FAC, after just such torment, was restructured with new owners and became AFC – Allied Farmers. The business then passed to Elders, the Australian stock and station company which, after a few short years, divested itself of its New Zealand interests. The tattered remnants of FAC were then purchased by John F Jones Ltd which company failed some years ago now.
In the heyday of FAC the company advertised all over the Waikato area, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. The advertising included stock sales, land sales and listings of the company’s services which included motor vehicle sales and service, farm equipment and implements, tools, farmers clothing and seeds, manure, animal care products and billies for the brew.
Over the years, companies like FAC – farmers’ suppliers and proud of it, changed to meet the competition. But the founders would be turning in their graves if they’d seen the advertisement in a Founders Theater show programme copied below. They’d gone from manure and milking-shed gumboots to Manchester and a powder room!
They did have space for 120 cars.
FAC operated from 1918, until its demise, from the complex between Victoria Street and Barton Street. In the photo above, the Victoria Street building is adorned with Christmas heralds. Each herald has a trumpet and the sign beside the star says, ‘And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding joy.’
The banner signs at the top of the street level windows advise of: Hardware & Paints; Electrical Appliances; Camping Equipment; Groceries; Provisions; Glassware; Chinaware. They also boasted a travel agency.
The building itself is relatively unremarkable except for the mixed order pilasters which were no doubt added for a look of importance and solidity.
The other interesting part of this photo is that with the exception of the MO series Morris Oxford van in the foreground and the rear quarters of the Humber Hawk on the right, all the other vehicles are BMC makes – two Morris Oxfords and two Austins; an A40 van on the left and an A40 Somerset behind the Humber.
What fun we did have in those days when cars had to be driven!
And how about this pic, recently digitised, of the original building on Ward St:
Merry Xmas everyone and a prosperous New Year.
By Perry Rice, Hamilton Central Libraries.
Email Perry here.