Business profile: UCC extends its portfolio

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

With big names set to join the UCC model line-up in 2018, the next 12 months look busy and exciting for the Christchurch-based distributor

Since opening his family business in 2008, Rob Floris of Christchurch-headquartered UCC Motorhomes and Caravans has seen plenty of changes in the shape of the local industry.

And while the imported market has swiftly turned towards Europe and the wealth of motorhome and caravan manufacturing technologies and know-how available there, Rob says an understanding of manufacturing at a local level remains key when assessing what sorts of models will work in the local market.

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"It’s not something we spend a lot of time advertising, but UCC started out as a manufacturer and we still manufacture motorhomes to this day," he tells me.

"We work with Composite Group, who are fibreglass specialists and with whom we have a great relationship. We supply the chassis, choosing from a mix of Iveco, Mitsubishi, LDV, and Mercedes-Benz underpinnings primarily.

"We still have a number of clients with whom we work with in order to get an ideal layout on paper. While the focus has increasingly been on retail for the last few years as the market has changed, we remain very proud of our continued involvement in manufacturing."

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Rob says that while UCC has become synonymous with the likes of Dethleffs and Frankia in the South Island, it’s working as a group with Acacia Motorhomes, Central RV in Taupo, and the Deluxe Group in Blenheim that has increased the company’s influence on the New Zealand market.

"I approached Jonas Ng at Acacia about four years ago and said I wanted to represent Dethleffs in the South Island, and it grew from there.

"Working together with Acacia, Deluxe, and Central RV means that, as a group, we have a very wide reach and together we can provide a great sales and service package that covers the whole country."

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Next year is already looking to be a busy one, with the highly anticipated arrival of the Niesmann + Bischoff brand in New Zealand. The first examples of these top-shelf $280,000-plus motorhomes are arriving in the country now, with the official local launch set to coincide with next year’s Covi Motorhome Show.

"We are really excited about adding Niesmann motorhomes to our stable of models," Rob says.

"These motorhomes are the absolute pinnacle of what the extended Hymer Group currently build and really do take a no-expense-spared approach to designing and building premium motorhomes. We’re looking forward to showcasing these to customers next year."

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Rob says that, despite representing some of the biggest names in the business in New Zealand, he’s happy to remain at the helm of a family-owned business with a small, trusted group of staff members. Flexibility, he says, is a key attribute that customers really respond to.

"The value proposition at UCC is really powerful. Yep, we’re a small team, but we have a lot of horsepower in the market. And because we’re not an enormous outfit with 40 staff or whatever, we have lower overheads and we can pass on some of those operational savings to the customer.

"It’s important to me that a customer can walk into our yard and deal directly with me if they want to. As a managing director, that means I can get feedback from customers immediately. And part of extending our portfolio of brands means that we’re sure to have a motorhome or caravan to suit any buyer."

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In addition to the arrival of Niesmann + Bischoff in the New Year, UCC will also be representing premium motorhome manufacturer, Morelo (in the South Island), from 2018 onwards. With Dethleffs and Frankia offering up a comprehensive model line in the mid-range, Niesmann + Bischoff and fellow German manufacturer Morelo will give UCC’s customers top-end options.

"This business requires a fair amount of crystal-ball gazing," Rob concludes.

"But when you offer the best possible models and a good spread of options for all sorts of different buyers, then the guesswork becomes a lot easier to manage. We’ve grown hugely over the last 10 years, but we really are very proud of the degree of choice we can offer our customers today."

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