A lot has changed in the New Zealand marine industry over the past 30 years, but Kiwis still love their boating — and marine electronics business Advance Trident is still right there alongside them.

Established in 1993 by industry legend Trevor Geldard, the company has undergone changes and challenges over the years, but it remains in family ownership and good heart. Blair Geldard, one of Trevor’s three sons, now owns the company, having bought out brother Brett in 2021. Brett also remains active in the business and Craig owns and runs ATL Commercial, servicing the commercial fishing industry.

The late Trevor Geldard.

“Trevor was a big figure in the marine industry,” Blair says. “Having headed up Epiglass and Healing Industries for 35 years, he then set up this business as a retirement project. We started off with JRC as our main agency, and a number of other smaller brands, but the reality was we didn’t have a lot to offer and it was a tough ride for a few years.”

Taking on the local sales and service agency for Simrad in the early 2000s provided a solid base for the company’s product range. “We established Simrad as a credible alternative to the incumbent brands,” Blair says.
Today Advance Trident remains the largest New Zealand dealer for Simrad, but also represents other key brands such as Lowrance, B&G, Sleipner, Zipwake, Schumacher, Enerdrive, Lectrotab, Multiflex and others. It now offers a range of products from navigation to bowthrusters, steering, trim tabs, inverters and chargers, consistently adding quality brands to its product portfolio over the years, with frequent trips offshore to establish and secure new agencies.

“These brands have largely been with us all the way,” Blair says. “When we started the business we were quite centred around navigation, but we’ve become a lot more diversified, with the RV industry becoming a good contributor to the business. Blair says the move by Simrad’s parent company Navico to go direct to market created a challenge for the business, but it also generated an opportunity.

“At that point we actively went out and acquired and secured new agencies to bolster the business,” Blair says. “With distribution, you don’t have a lot that’s tangible. Your supplier can change overnight — they can be acquired by another global company, and all those years of effort in promoting the brand can be destroyed by a business decision on the other side of the world.

L-R: Blair, Craig, Trevor and Brett Geldard.

“But nothing can replace hard work, which at the end of the day is what we’ve had to do. Thirty years later we’re still going, and have managed to get it to a point where we now have a really great product range that’s spread through the RV, marine and commercial sectors.”

Blair says another vitally important factor in the company’s success has been its people. As well as the two brothers, who have worked there since day one, Advance Trident has several other long-term staff who have been with the company for 17 years. Among them is South Island manager Bart Meltzer — a familiar face to clients all over the south – as well as Service Manager Scott Bailey, who has recently set up his own business and is contracting back to Advance Trident. Rudy Clavel keeps the engine room under control as warehouse and logistics manager, and there’s been an addition of younger blood, with Alex Bai being promoted to sales and marketing manager in the past year. The company now has a staff of 12, all of whom except Meltzer are based at its Mt Wellington headquarters.
“Bart, Alex, and Brett are constantly on the road, meeting with customers. That’s quite traditional in many ways, and originated with Trevor’s vision for the business, but we still believe we’ve got to have sales reps out there, knocking on doors and building relationships. The marine industry in a lot of ways is still about people and relationships — there are lots of family businesses similar to ours — then you’ve got to have the products and support to back it up.
“We are lucky that along that path we retained some really long-term staff. At the end of the day, it’s the people that have made it happen, as well as the products. Without these two things, we’ve got nothing.”

Blair says a constant theme over the past 30 years has been “battling” — but it’s that constant mastering of challenges which has stood the company in good stead.

“As the owners, we have always been at the coalface of the business,” Blair says. “It hasn’t been easy — with distribution you get those ups and downs with agencies, but that has made us strong and resilient and taken us to where we are now.”

Brett is beginning to take more of a back-seat role, mentoring the young sales force coming through the business. He has been fronting product demonstrations, boat shows and dealer nights for 30 years and says, “it’s rewarding to see the young members of the team coming through and sharing the same values and hunger for the business.”

South Island Manager Bart Meltzer.

The Geldards have seen some major changes during their 30 years with Advance Trident. The industry itself has changed and matured, plus the products they sell and service have become much more technologically advanced.
“We’ve seen consolidation by the big global brands that are actively out there trying to acquire other businesses and get vertical integration, buying their own boatbuilding companies and navigation companies, and trying to offer a complete package, which then threatens distributors,” Blair says.

“At the end of the day, the marine industry is about relationships, and we very much value those we have maintained in the industry long term – in many cases with other second generation, family-owned businesses.”


Another development over the past 30 years is in the technical advancement of the products, which has meant more features and benefits for boat owners, and greater reliability, but has also made servicing more complex.

“We used to do a lot more servicing, but products are more reliable now,” Blair says. “That’s another one of the really big changes — for us it is all about product support, and being product experts for the brands that we represent. Boats are complex, and the special thing we can add to our distributor role is our product knowledge and support for our customers.”

ATL was recently appointed Australasian distributor for Schumacher products, so now represents the brand on both sides of the Tasman. Blair says for ATL, the agency boosts diversity, promotes growth and “offers the team a bit of a challenge”.

Boat Show, 2003.

He expects further challenges in the future, with changes within international brand structures and the rise of direct-to-consumer sales through the internet. However, with its years of experience in the business the Advance Trident team can offer not only products but also knowledge, offering boatbuilders and boat and RV owners the expertise to select the right equipment to meet their needs.

He’s also looking forward to spending more time boating and fishing himself, after 30 years helping other people get the best out of their time on the water.

“The marine industry in New Zealand is small, consisting of passionate and talented people with companies that punch above their weight internationally and domestically. At Advance Trident we are lucky with all our staff, old and new. We also enjoy great relationships with suppliers, customers and our industry colleagues,” says Blair.

“It’s really about where to next for the Advance Trident legacy. We are actively encouraging good young people to step up through the business, chasing new agencies and technologies, and making sure we position the business well as we head into the future.”