History and Founders

Cor and Helen (centre) at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, July 1952

Cor and Helen van Opzeeland (centre) at Amsterdam Airport 1952

"You don't survive in the business world unless you're good, especially in the highly competitive transport industry.  To make their track record even more impressive it's a family firm, and the odds are usually stacked against them lasting 50 years".  Reg Garters, CEO, NZ Institute of Management, Canterbury.

Cor and Helen van Opzeeland immigrated to New Zealand from Holland in 1952. Back home in Holland, Cor's family had a strong interest in transport and post World War II were preparing to restart their lives and develop transport companies.

Cor saw opportunity in New Zealand and started his new life driving trams and buses. After purchasing the Hornby coal yard from Stills General Store in 1955, Cor applied for a goods service licence and Hornby Coal and Carrying was born in 1956.  After a few years of hard labour involved in moving coal, Hornby Coal and Carrying became Opzeeland Transport and focused on cartage.  In the 1970's the business ran with 5 trucks and administration run by Helen from the kitchen bench. In the late 1970's Cor and Helen's son John began working at the business, their daughter Marianne and son Eddy soon joined the family business as well.

Hornby CoalIn 1979 Opzeeland Transport moved to a purpose built yard on the outskirts of Hornby.  Hornby has always been a part of the Opzeeland Transport identity and likewise the van Opzeeland family's heritage.  The company worked through new challenges posed by deregulation of the transport industry and moved towards transporting over longer distances and this included inter island freight to match customer demand.  "It was an exciting time, nobody had any blueprint as to how you would run a long-distance transport business in New Zealand" recalls John van Opzeeland.

Distribution and storage services were added to Opzeeland's offering and assisted customers who needed stock moved nationwide.  The fleet extended to 19 trucks in 1994, including Scanias and Nissans. Staff numbers continued to increase and grew to 40 in 2000 and the company fostered a strong identity and service quality orientation. Opzeeland has always been aware of the value of their staff and their contribution to its success.

There have been opportunities for expansion, to make Opzeeland a one stop shop for everyone, but we are careful not to compromise the focus on service with size.  "We've chosen not to be big in order to pursue reliability and quality of service" says John.  John now manages the day to day operations of Opzeeland, along with his sister Marianne Wright.  Cor still visits the company daily, but admits he is just the odd jobs boy nowadays.  "You know, things haven't really changed all that much though, the company is still offering its clients just what I aimed for from the very start - respectable looking vehicles and a quality service".

50 yearsin 2006 Opzeeland Transport celebrated 50 years of service with a gala dinner for staff, friends, customers and suppliers. The focus was on thanking staff, acknowledging Opzeeland culture and, of course, celebrating success.  This milestone highlighted the growth and change of what started as a small coal and carrying company and is now a successful transport and distribution supplier.  No one could have had the foresight to predict the challenges and innovations along the way, but Opzeeland is careful not to lose sight of its founding values of hard work and quality initiated over 50 years ago.

"You may not find any sacks of coal in the Opzeeland yard anymore, but you will find a company fired up with anticipation of things to come, and relishing the opportunity to do them" - Byrce Baird, NZ Trucking Magazine.