Co-operative business leader and volunteer fire chief, Russell Green personifies the co-operative ethos – work hard, work together and work for others. Owner of Puhoi River Motors, Russell’s served on the boards of CBNZ and Capricorn. . .
A diesel mechanic by trade, Russell has worked in the automotive industry all his life and bought Puhoi River Motors in 1999. His eldest son Chase joined the family firm two years ago and is midway through his apprenticeship.
Puhoi is a rural village 50 kilometres north of Auckland and until eight years ago did not have its own fire station or local brigade.
In 2007 Russell assembled other community-minded citizens and, together, they formed the Puhoi Rural Fire Force.
“In true DIY spirit, we built a station to house the fire engine in the front yard of my garage over a long weekend using mostly donated materials,” he said.
His fellow Puhoi pioneers volunteered him as Fire Chief, an unpaid role he fills to this day.
Mustering a healthy 13 volunteers at present, the brave men and women of the Puhoi force – Russell included – were honoured at a recent event hosted by the Auckland Council in recognition of rural fire brigades.
“Our Puhoi crew comes under the control of the Auckland Rural Fire Service, although we train regularly with the professional NZ Fire Service. We get funding and strong support from the local council.”
Russell says his fire service experience has much in common with being part of a co-operative.
“Being in a co-operative means thinking of others and considering what’s best for the group. Like a co-op, we’re all pulling together to achieve a common goal. Our Puhoi force is made up of people from all walks of life and with different skills to offer. Our members are our local community and it is in their interests we exist.”
Russell heads the committee responsible for raising the $1.3m needed up build a permanent fire station further up Ahuroa Road.
“The council’s given us the land and spent about $200,000 on earthworks and the concrete foundations. We’ve raised over half the money in the past year or so but have $600,000 still to go.”
Russell, far right, has been involved with Cooperative Business NZ for 16 years, from serving on the council as a Representative of the Trades and Retail sector for over ten years to being a founding director on the board of CBNZ when it was formed. He stepped down in 2015.
Russell has also recently retired from the board of Capricorn, a trans-Tasman co-operative which supports businesses in the automotive industry.
“Capricorn has long punched above its weight in supporting those of us in the automotive industry. It’s all about being tolerant, generous in spirit and wanting to achieve and share success. As a co-op, we work hard collectively to achieve the win-win in our dealing with others,” he said.
Andrew Baird, pictured at a recent Leading Co-operative Essentials professional development programme in Auckland, manages Capricorn’s successful NZ operation.
With a network of over 330 suppliers NZ-wide, Capricorn helps its members run their businesses better – from instant credit and consolidated billing to a member rewards programme.
As a major player in the automotive parts buying sector, the co-op leverages its global strength with over 16,000 members and 2,200 preferred suppliers internationally.
Puhoi River Motors is a member of Capricorn which, in turn, is a member of Cooperative Business NZ and its Australian equivalent, BCCM.
Puhoi is one of NZ’s two ethnic historic villages.
Bohemian in the true sense of the word, the riverside village was originally settled in 1863 by immigrants from Bohemia, an area which is now in the Czech Republic.
Puhoi retains much of its Bohemian atmosphere and culture, with vibrant contributions from residents from across the world.