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christchurch based company expands business to australia

The Christchurch based company has been operating since 1992 and employs 40 people in Christchurch and 120 to 140 people in New Zealand.

It only made the decision to go overseas in June.

"The earthquake made us understand the importance of diversity. If the earthquake had hit Wellington and knocked out inter-island travel we would have been hit hard."

The company acted quickly, opening its first office in Brisbane in July. "It doesn't take much, you just need the capital to get the cars and then you're away."

Apex chose to establish themselves initially in Brisbane in order to pick up the New Zealand holiday market.

"About 25% of our customers have been with us before and maybe 75% of those are Kiwis."

The company's marketing strategy has relied largely on word of mouth but has also made use of Google's Adwords, which are small, targeted advertisements that appear on search pages at the top of the page and along the right hand column for key search strings.

"Google has been very useful, we can appear in the market almost immediately and have a presence." he said.

The company began its Australian operations in July, buying 100 cars, and since then they have increased their fleet twice. They now have 200 Hyundai cars available.

"Hyundai is aggressively marketing themselves on the Australian market and we decided to go with them. For us, longevity is key." said Lennon.

While expanding in Australia the company has also managed to maintain its position in the New Zealand market.

"The earthquake has hit us a bit, we are down 10% to 15% on what we would normally be. But what we are seeing is tourists coming into Christchurch and hiring a car for a few days to do a tour of the South Island, whereas before we would have people spending a couple of days in Christchurch without using a car."

The recession also had a positive effect on the company. "Being a budget car company, people have been choosing our vehicles over more expensive corporate car companies. People still need cars but are watching the bottom line more." said Lennon.

Lennon believed they have only just begun operations in Australia. "We will be in Sydney within a year."

The company intends to expand into other tourist locations, with the next step being Coolangatta, and Melbourne in the sights after Sydney.

Although Lennon is looking overseas he is content to stay in Christchurch.

"When the central city is opened up again, we'll get new offices there."

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