Join us as we take a peek behind the curtain and reveal the most intriguing stories of the talented individuals who make up the Driveline team and keep this company running.
Some say she chugs petrol for breakfast, and that she speaks fluent Car. All we know is she’s called Ruckus.
Born into a family of petrolheads, Wendy Harcus was destined for a career in the automotive world. After honing her skills at the heights of corporate fleet management and vehicle leasing, Wendy Harcus knows vehicles inside and out.
She’s brought her wealth of experience home to Christchurch where she’s helping small businesses find the right vehicles to succeed, and sourcing the finance to make it happen. Let’s pop the hood on her fascinating career journey.
Early Years Shaped by Cars and Family
Wendy Harcus was born and raised in Christchurch, where cars have always been a family affair.
Her father was a mechanic who loved motor racing, as did her brother, and her mother set up a driving school.
“Hence the reason why I actually quite like vehicles,” Wendy says.
After her family moved to Tauranga for the warmer climate and to be closer to her father’s parents, Wendy began working in offices as soon as she finished school.
“I wanted to work in an office, that was always something that I wanted to do,” she recalls.
Her first office job was at a textile company that also did marquee rentals, which sparked a career across many industries.
Wendy moved to Auckland and worked her way up from temping in credit control to sales in the competitive international freight industry.
“The grass is not always greener when you get head hunted,” she warns.
After a working holiday in tropical Cairns, Australia, Wendy returned to Auckland and stumbled into vehicle leasing in 2000.
Navigating the Corporate Ladder
Over the next 23 years, Wendy worked her way up at Hertz Fleetlease, Custom Fleet, FleetPartners and Orix, taking on more senior roles in sales and supply chain management. She managed relationships with large corporate fleets, dealerships and internal teams.
“It ranged from dealing with their drivers in the day-to-day stuff right through to the decision makers, presenting to senior management, dealing with stakeholders across the business, and some really large fleets. You kind of did everything,” she explains.
Included in her extensive experience was a three-year stint for an international vehicle leasing company in the north of England right on the border with Scotland.
Back in New Zealand Wendy was back in the leasing game working for one of the largest companies on the ASX as a national key account manager looking after some of their largest accounts.
She then applied for a role as supply chain manager within the same company, and did that for two years.
“I wanted a change, I wanted to utilise my existing relationships, my knowledge of the business, my understanding of what the account managers needed, and also the customers, so I could come at it from all angles,” she says.
“I looked after all the distributors, the key dealers, third party suppliers, and I led the purchasing team.”
“I did a lot of fixit work because I knew all the different facets to it, so I’d often have to look at things that were going on and come up with solutions,” she recalls.
But Wendy got bored after a few years in each role.
“I used to change jobs every few years because I tended to get a little bit bored,” she cheerfully admits.
The company structures also took some navigating.
“When you’re dealing with large Japanese or American multinationals, there’s a lot more hurdles to jump,” she notes.
Then followed a stint as national channel sales manager running a small to medium enterprise team based in Auckland, still in the vehicle leasing and fleet management field.
Seeking More Work-Life Balance
After 23 years climbing the corporate ladder, Wendy was ready for a change of pace.
“I wanted more work life balance, which I hadn’t been getting,” she says.
An opportunity came up within the company to relocate to Christchurch. There she was head of sales for the southern region based in Christchurch. Her sister had moved up from Dunedin to Christchurch, so it really felt like a homecoming.
The work life balance plan, however, didn’t quite work out as planned.
“I looked after everything from south of Taupo to Invercargill and I had staff based in Wellington and Christchurch, and with that goes a lot of responsibility. I was doing long days and that wasn’t really the plan when I moved to Christchurch,” rues Wendy.
“I was just looking for a change of pace and a more balanced lifestyle.”
Wendy Harcus Joins Driveline
An opportunity came up at Driveline in 2023 and finally gave Wendy what she was looking for. She has now gotten the balance she wanted without the stressful corporate structure.
“You don’t get any of the politicking here that you get in the big corporates. None of that. We don’t have tons and tons of meetings. We don’t get inundated with emails outside of work hours or any of that stuff. It’s great,” Wendy says.
Helping Small Businesses Succeed
At Driveline, Wendy uses her decades of industry knowledge to help small business owners and owner operators find the right vehicles.
“I enjoy using my industry knowledge to help them with their vehicle requirements and obviously utilising Driveline’s buying power,” she explains.
Many of her clients are one-person operations without dedicated fleet managers.
“They don’t know what they don’t know. After having done this for 20-odd years, I know the things to watch out for, the things to talk to them about, and probably have a better awareness of what’s going on out there in our industry, which lets them get on with what they do,” says Wendy.
Wendy asks clients lots of questions to understand their needs when they come in with sometimes vague vehicle requirements. Then she handles the negotiations and details.
“Not everyone’s comfortable going into dealerships and negotiating, or knows what to ask for,” she notes.
Wendy’s expertise makes the process smooth for busy business owners.
Wendy Harcus is Passionate About Making a Difference For Women Too
Wendy is also passionate about getting more women comfortable with acquiring vehicles for their businesses. She estimates that 80% of her clients are currently male.
“Going into a dealership can be quite confronting, quite intimidating,” she says.
Wendy wants to help more female business owners navigate the vehicle buying process confidently.
The close-knit, welcoming team at Driveline is another perk.
“The Driveline team have been absolutely awesome. So welcoming. They’re so helpful. They’re just a great bunch of people to work with. It all stems from Lance and Paul,” she says.
And Wendy loves being based in vibrant downtown Christchurch in their new offices with the trams going by outside.
Balancing Work with Hobbies and Travel
Outside of work, Wendy makes time for hobbies and travel.
“I seem to spend quite a bit of time walking my dog,” she laughs.
Her 11-year-old Labradoodle George keeps her active. She also goes to the gym several times a week.
Wendy enjoys catching up with friends, reading, and dining out. She likes weekend trips to visit family and friends in Auckland, Wellington and Levin.
Longer vacations to Australia, Europe and Greece are also in the works for 2024.
Loving the Mainland
After living abroad and climbing the corporate ladder for years, Wendy has found a rewarding career helping small businesses succeed with the friendly Driveline team.
She now has the work-life balance she was seeking in laidback Christchurch close to family and lifelong hobbies.
“It was never the plan but it’s just the way it’s worked out. I don’t really have a plan but it’s worked out 100%,” she says.
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