An interview with JLM founder Gilbert Groot who shares his thoughts on fake products, his vision for JLM and more.

What have the last 12 months been like?

Intense! I love being the CEO of such an agile, disruptive, and innovative brand but on a day-to-day basis I can be pulled in many directions. So, from time to time, I have to take stock and refocus! The last 12 months have been an absolute whirlwind for me and for the JLM team. We opened our Portuguese office launching it at ExpoMECANICA, Exponor – Porto International Fair – the biggest event on the Portuguese trade calendar. I attended with Jeroen and Manuel and was delighted at the positive reaction to our brand and our products. Our stand was packed every day and I was immensely proud of the new branding which drew people in to find out more.  Every journalist from the automotive media came to visit our stand and talk about our products and our strapline ‘We understand cars’ which is always a great conversation starter. Jeroen was permanently located in the café talking to potential customers. This was time really well spent because within a few days of the event ending, we had signed an agreement with a significant new partner. Then show over it was back to Holland and business as usual sorting out various logistics and distribution challenges whilst overseeing the broader details of several product launches and scheduling in time to support Jeroen at important presentations. I consider myself lucky that I am surrounded by a passionate and hard-working team. However, as CEO there are decisions that I alone must make. Inevitably these eat up my time. However, I am always energised after speaking to our distributors and I make a point of attending every marketing mastermind group meeting so that I can say hello and reconnect. I have no complaints. I just wish that some days had a few more hours so that I could finish everything.

You recently spoke about fake products in the automotive media

We will see more of these coming onto the shelves because not only are motorists looking to save money on repairs, but workshops are also having to justify the repair or maintenance bill. And as we’ve seen from recent research, the automotive aftermarket is welcoming of  lubricants and additives.

The ground is fertile for fake products. They can still look realistic, be accompanied by marketing hype and web pages and if there is the equal promise of decent margins a stockist may take the leap and in turn promote the product to their trade base and consumers. The problem is that these products are often not discovered as fakes (that are dangerous at worst, completely ineffective at best) until something happens to make the headlines and you then see the scramble to ditch the stock and disassociate from the product. The reputational fall out for the brand that was ripped off by the fake product can be huge.

At JLM we remain close to each stage of the process of product development from idea to formulation, testing and release. And we closely guard the formulas We also  rely on professional motor mechanics to road test our products until we launch them through our distributors. We build close relationships and are in regular contact with them so the chances of a fake JLM product making it past our scrutiny and into the hand of a distributor are slim. But we are not complacent. What gives me the biggest headache is when I see a product so closely resembling a JLM product that I do a double take. It might not be a fake product, but it is a company that wants a slice of our action and audience.

What is the focus for JLM moving forwards?

The recent appointments of Jeroen and Manuel are part of a much bigger and indeed bolder plan to bring JLM to the next level and further strengthen our brand. We have eye watering growth targets, and I am pleased to say that to date we are on course to meet them. Growing Together was the theme of our conference and this is how we will achieve sustainable growth – supporting our distributors whilst also increasing the impact of our brand. And we will continue to bang the drum for our products to be used by top tier technicians in any workshop worldwide. We are strengthening our brand considerably in Germany and the Netherlands with new partnerships and new stockists which is incredibly exciting. And with a template that can be rolled out worldwide because our existing territories still have untapped potential. So, we are working with our distributors to increase their sales and market share too.  Add in new products to this heady mix and you have the  formula for hard work and hopefully success.

What is your ultimate vision for JLM Lubricants?

It’s my ultimate vision that JLM Lubricants will become the number 1 globally acknowledged go-to brand for professional motor mechanics for any kind of technical lubricants as we support them in their daily work servicing cars. And solving problems. Running parallel to this is my vision that the ever-growing band of consumers who are JLM fans will pass their enthusiasm onto others in need of a JLM Lubricants’ product to do the job right first time, every time. Underpinning this is that JLM products are available via the professional trade (groups) and online marketplaces. It was Coca Cola that coined the phrase ‘arms reach of desire’ I would love for JLM Lubricants to occupy that hallowed place too.

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