Ian (Tom) Peck would probably describe himself as a Suzuki aficionado above all else, after all when you spend nearly 50 years of your life with one brand it’s not just a job. When Tom retires on Friday 8 April he will leave some fairly big boots to fill and took with him a wealth of knowledge spanning more than 38 years of continuous service at Suzuki New Zealand Limited.

His career started as a fresh-faced motorcycle apprentice to the Colemans group, who at that time operated stores in several centres, including Hamilton, where Tom fell in love with motorcycling. It wasn’t long before Tom had set his sights on some loftier goals, eventually finding himself at head office as a service manager across motorcycle, marine, and¬†automobile sectors. His love for all things mechanical shone through, especially in the development and engineering of road race motorcycles. A competent rider himself meant that Tom was always looking for that extra hp or seconds off the next lap; owning something standard would never have been enough.

Tom Peck, Suzuki Motorcycles NZ, Suzuki

In 1994, Tom started working on a special project to develop a new farm bike to replace the discontinued TF185. Following a long process of testing and prototype part manufacture, Tom developed what was at the time a Japanese domestic trail bike into the now iconic DR200SE Trojan. This was an exceptional achievement, with approximately 10,000 sales of this model since 1996.

The flair and skill set Tom brought to technical landed him a role in marketing as manager of the motorcycle department. At a time when cheap used Japanese imports were swamping New Zealand, it would have been easy to just accept the market for what it was. The idea to counter imports with new motorcycles at can’t be beaten prices elevated Suzuki to number one virtually overnight. Following the GSX400X impulse, the RF900 for just $9,995 sold in the hundreds and it started a winning streak for Suzuki that went for over 20 years as the number one registered brand in NZ.

The passion and respect for the road race community was always a theme when you talk to Tom. Working with some of our best road racers saw riders like Andrew Stroud take 10 titles for Suzuki. And the support was not only for the riders but also for event sponsorship such as the Suzuki winter road race series and Boxing Day Cemetery Circuit. 

Eva Wintle Suzuki GSX150F

Motocross didn’t miss out, and it was a very young Josh Coppins who first signed a contract with Suzuki penned by Tom. Josh became a world title contender, narrowly being pipped for a second spot during the 2002 World Motocross Championships.

In 2003, Tom expanded the marketing responsibilities to also include developing the motor vehicle division. Since that time, Tom has been instrumental in growing Suzuki from a mere 1,200 units per year to record results over 8,000 units in some years. It was also during this time that the Suzuki Swift became a success story for the motor vehicle department, with sales improving not only market share but also the dealer network across the country.

His passion for motorsport flowed across to the motor vehicle division, where he helped develop the highly successful Swift Sport Cup series in conjunction with Paul Burborough from the Winger Group. The one-make series was highly competitive and proved to be a great arena for young talent to develop their skills.

In 2011, Tom was promoted to CEO and guided Suzuki New Zealand through some difficult post-GFC territory. Suzuki New Zealand is one of the few company-owned distributors that do not have a resident Japanese staff member, which reflects the confidence and trust they have in Tom’s management.

In 2018, Marine made a welcome return to the umbrella of Suzuki New Zealand following a 20-year absence. Since the change in distributor, market share has more than doubled under his management.

Retirement for Tom will be the start of a new adventure as he uproots and moves to be closer to his two daughters in Australia. However, I’m sure that his face will be one of the many at Phillip Island for the MotoGP.

We at BRM wish Tom all the best in his retirement and thank him for his tireless work developing and promoting the motorcycle industry in New Zealand.