HW Richardson Group Property CEO and Group director Scott O’Donnell along with his wife of 22 years, Jocelyn (Joc) O’Donnell, Group director and Transport World founder, both have a passion and desire to see their home town Invercargill become a city everyone can be proud of.
The pair were born, raised and schooled in the city, and coincidentally grew up “just down the road from one another’’, Scott said.
He grew up knowing who Joc and her brother Harold Richardson were, and became good friends with Harold when the pair both attended Southland Boys’ High School while Joc attended Southland Girls’ High.
“A few years later it was really bizarre – I was at a Queenstown bar and this tall good-looking girl walked in and I thought ‘I better go buy her a drink’ and it was Joc.’’
Scott and Joc had been living in England for a few years until 1995 when they moved to Christchurch, New Zealand – they were married in Easter of ’95 in their home town of Invercargill.
Later that year in September Joc’s father Bill Richardson, informed them of Harold’s involvement in a car accident which took his life aged 29. Joc and Scott moved back to Invercargill in December that same year.
“Both Joc and I decided we wanted to return home and help Bill and the company,” Scott said.
It was a natural progression that Harold would lead the company in the future – having been heavily involved for a number of years.
“They [Bill and Harold] were like two peas in a pod – in many ways,” Scott said.
“They walked the same and sounded the same on the phone confusing many who spoke to them,” Joc said.
“It’s a family business and Joc and I have been involved since. And only 10 years after Harold died – Bill died too,’’ Scott said.
Bill had spoken to Joc and Scott – about considering moving back to Invercargill to help with running the company and asked Scott, a self-described ‘bean counter’, to come and work in the company.
Joc said she wasn’t heavily involved in the business at that stage – as the couple’s three children were still quite young, with the youngest attending pre-school.
In January 2005, Joc decided she needed to be more involved with running the business and arranged with her father [Bill] to work alongside him in the business on Fridays.
“We did that twice and then he passed away. Thankfully Scott had been involved for 10 years and helped me learn aspects of the business more quickly. My poor husband, you know I was a trained beauty therapist until that point, so learning the business was a challenge,” Joc said.
Joc and Scott have three children, their first being born in Invercargill in 1996, they are aged 20, 19 and 15, and have been a large driving factor in wanting to see Invercargill thrive.
“We want the city to be an exciting place to be which draws them back to live here – not just because we are here,’’ Scott said.
The Group have brought Bill Richardson Transport World to life and put Invercargill on the map with the world-class attraction.
They have also opened a second attraction with Classic Motorcycle Mecca, which opened last November, in time for the Burt Munro Challenge – which featured British motorcycle racing legend Guy Martin.
Guy Martin media interview at Motorcycle Mecca. Video: whatsoninvers.nz
The Group’s next quality attraction is Dig This Invercargill, based on the successful Dig This Las Vegas, which was started by New Zealander Ed Mumm, who lived and worked in Mosgiel before moving to the US.
Dig This Invercargill will be established in Otepuni Ave and is set to open to the public later this year. Designed for visitors to operate heavy machinery, and easy to pick up, visitors will be challenged to games all within a controlled and safe environment.
“We are trying to make a difference and put Invercargill on the map by bringing world-class motoring based attractions and so far it’s worked out better than we thought. We wanted a point of difference for Invercargill and to help give the city the ‘wow factor’,’’ Scott said.
He said there was only so much the Richardson Group could do and everything they had done to date was with private funds.
“We need different teams working on different ideas and projects to enhance the city,’’ Scott said.