From humble beginnings in 1934, CMV founder Sidney Crawford (1885-1968) set out with £7,000 and five employees to establish a company specialising in the sale and service of commercial vehicles. Despite the Great Depression, Sidney recognised the demand for commercial vehicles and contributed to the growth and prosperity of Australia through his company’s success in selling Diamond T and Leyland trucks, and Case tractors.
After long meritorious service to the motor industry and the South Australian community, Sidney Crawford passed away in 1968. The mantle was taken up by one of his three children, Jim Crawford (1922-1999), who carried on with Sid’s pioneering spirit and dedication. Jim was a born salesperson and expansionary business strategist whose innovative approach led the company to even greater achievements. He spent most of his life helping to build CMV, first under the guidance of his father and, later, with the help of his own children.
As the CMV Group proudly approaches its 75th year in business, it continues to prosper in the hands of three of Jim’s sons – the third generation of Crawfords. Paul Crawford is responsible for the Toyota , Lexus, Suzuki, Hino, Volvo and Mack dealerships while Michael Crawford’s focus is Kenworth, DAF, Mitsubishi Fuso, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and MaxiTRANS Trailers. These brothers are also jointly responsible for the commercial furniture operations. David Crawford manages CMV’s agricultural and horticultural interests.
In February 2007, Michael’s son, Jonathan, became the first member of the fourth generation of Crawfords to work for CMV. Several of Jonathan’s cousins also aim to join him in contributing to the company’s future.
Although the Crawford brothers are proud of the memory of the company’s humble beginnings during the Great Depression and have a few old restored vehicles to celebrate that, they have a clear focus on the future. Indeed, they have spent much of the last twenty-five years trying to grow a private family business, at the same time emulating best public company practice. The company also has long shown a commitment to its staff. Sidney was far ahead of his time when he introduced superannuation and staff shareholder schemes in the 1950s. In 1946 Sidney gifted some of his own equity in the company to establish CMV Foundation. Today the foundation owns fifteen percent of the shareholding in CMV and dividends benefit various charities in the community. A CMV Staff Foundation has just been inaugurated.
From a staff of five in 1934, the CMV Group has grown to become one of Australia ’s largest privately-owned businesses employing over 1,000 people in four states with an annual turnaround of approximately $750m. More importantly they have a number of new initiatives that will see the company continue to grow strongly.
CMV Group were inducted into the FBA(SA) Hall of Fame in 2007.