Hall of Fame Inductee 2021
Born in 1943, John Alexander grew up in Putaruru, Waikato, before he began his career driving ground spreading trucks for a local company.
In 1971 John and wife Cecile purchased a small Waikato based contracting and transport firm, quickly growing it to become Alexander Grain Limited, servicing maize farms in the Waikato with combine harvesters and a fleet of gold Kenworths trucks.
The mid-70s was a time of intense growth with a contract to ship 5,000-ton shipments of grain at a time, 24/7 to Mt Maunganui Port and the invention of the ‘Grain Train’, a hyper-efficient specialist unit that could bottom-dump grain, helping secure a 3-year contract with Northern Roller Milling.
In the mid-80s, John turned his attention to the wine industry with a contract from Corban Wines, soon followed by Montana, Delegat, Babich and Nobilo, developing an intermodal service of trucks and ISO shipping, a ground-breaking alternative to costly rail and ferry.
Developing an ethanol tanker in 1982 was a major turning point for the company, establishing its presence in the bulk tanker industry. The addition of Shell as a customer in the 1990’s heralded another significant growth opportunity and the contract grew over 10-years to cover the South Island, servicing farms, commercial, retail, bulk oil and LPG.
Alexander Group was awarded the BNZ Small Fleet of the Year in 1997 in recognition of its operational excellence.
During the 2000’s John introduced smart shift Freightliners, GPS monitoring and in-cab cameras — all underpinning a performance-based incentive rewarding high performance driving and product handling standards. Alexander Group was among the first fleets in New Zealand to include air bag suspension, aluminium wheels, super single trailer axles, front underrun protection and driver side airbags in their fleet, improving safety, productivity and reduced tare weight. This focus on safety and innovation was acknowledged when Alexander Petroleum was the LTSA / Road Safety Trust recipient of the Innovation and Achievement Award for an Organisation 2007 / 2008, recognising excellence and encouraging innovation in road safety.
In 2002 John started bulk deliveries for BOC throughout the South Island, which expanded in 2005 to include the North Island. The growth of the Alexander Gases division grew with the addition of inter-island ISO handling and cylinder distribution throughout New Zealand as well as the Pacific Islands. This provided the customer with an end-to-end supply chain solution from class 2 to class 5 vehicles delivering cryogenic gases.
From humble beginnings on his family farm, John Alexander built a company based on innovation and safety. His company reflects his values with family and diversity at its heart.
The Alexander Group is now a second generation led business with all three of John and Cecile’s children working in the business — Hayley as CEO, Rod as Fleet and Logistics Division Manager and Gabrielle as Communications Advisor. It currently employs around 140 staff based at 21 locations through New Zealand. Now in its 50th year, John can be proud of how far the Alexander Group has come across two generations and how forward thinking the company is today.
John has been a staunch advocate of the Road Transport Association and served on the Region 2 executive and working groups for many years supporting the industry. John’s innovation is now woven into the fabric and future of transport in New Zealand. From the invention of the ‘Grain Train’ to ethanol tankers and fuel industry safety equipment, John’s unique ability to see over the horizon is evident in his success.