The Todd family began its rise to wealth with family leaders like Charles Todd. As an immigrant from Scotland, Charles Todd began a wood scoring company and a rural goods store in 1885. His ventures proved profitable and Charles Todd was able to start a car sales and maintenance company in 1929. Named after his son, the business started to import vehicles from abroad. Until the 1980s, the automotive industry would be the main source of the Todds' wealth.
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In 1934, the family created an automotive assembly plant within Petone. This plant used parts that were imported from the United States to create cars in New Zealand. By 1965, the Todd family's automotive business was selling more than 10,000 cars each year. In 1970, the family chose to buy Mitsubishi's New Zealand franchise. They later sold all of their automotive franchises and production lines back to Mitsubishi in 1987.
Later on, the family expanded into oil importing and the retail market. They started to purchase gas stations around the country and operated terminal services at four different ports. By 1954, the Todd family had signed prospecting agreements in New Zealand and formed a joint venture partnership with BP New Zealand. After the discovery of the Kapuni and Maui oil fields, the Todd family became the major supplier of oil and gas for New Zealand.