A Car Hoist and an Oil Change - The Making of Keema
The Keema story begins in 1950, with the arrival of John Van Riel and his family from Holland. Trained in the Netherlands as a lawyer, John qualified as an accountant when he arrived in Australia before he decided to open a small workshop in Dutton Park. Attached to a BP service station, the mechanical workshop had a car hoist and did oil changes and repairs.
Although successful, the Dutton Park workshop didn’t have the room to display new cars, which were in demand as the population of post-war Australia grew.
Presenting Miss Borgward - Isabella Borgward
In 1957, John opened a new workshop and showroom in East Street, Fortitude Valley (next to the Valley Baths). Called ‘The Auto Centre’, the dealership sold the quirkily named Borgward Isabella (imported from Germany) and Lloyd-Hartnett vehicles.
Later, the company expanded into Stones Corner, taking on the VW and Mazda lines.
Growth of a City
In the 1960’s, Brisbane’s population continued to grow steadily, and development began to spread from the city outwards. At this stage, Mt Gravatt was an outer southern suburb, surrounded by bushland. A new concept known as the shopping mall was being established to cater to the growing population. In 1963, Keema moved to new premises at 1532 Logan Rd, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, where it remains today, selling the Nissan, Hyundai, Isuzu Ute brands.
The company prospered, eventually closing the Fortitude Valley and Stones Corner locations and opening dealerships in Cleveland in 1996 and Springwood in 1997. During this time, the Auto Centre was renamed Keema, the name chosen from a competition among staff and customers to come up with a new name to take Keema into the next phase of its life.
Keema is now in its sixth decade of offering Brisbane customers quality cars. A third-generation family-owned business, John's son Ted and his grandson Tristan Van Riel are now in the driver’s seat. Keema continues to provide oustanding service and genuine care for their customers and community.
Meet the Keema Family