Global bestselling author Dee Blick put Gilbert
Groot, the founder of JLM Lubricants under the
spotlight in this special interview which marked
JLM’s 10th anniversary at the time of going to print.
1. What impact has the global pandemic had on JLM Lubricants?
The global pandemic has impacted us in many ways. Not so much our operations as we have a modern set up when it comes to the software programmes we use, and everything is cloud based. So, the ‘stay at home’ restriction did not have any adverse effects. It was business as usual, and we remained in close contact with our team using video calling.
The travel restrictions and the wholesale cancellation of trade shows made us rethink our global communications’ strategy with our distributors and their networks. Of course, everything went online to live video calls with video seminars on sales, product training and marketing.
We strengthened our relationships with our distributors which was a win-win for both sides. Our relationship with our network has never been better. Logistically however there have been significant changes, especially on the supply side. This was largely due to the unexpected growth of some markets recovering at a super-fast pace and the disruption of the sea freight (containers).
We have been confronted with various price increases, long lead times for new products and unreliable sailing dates for container shipments to JLM distributors overseas. To help counter these problems, we have invested heavily in stock, quadrupling stock on our bestsellers.
We now plan purchases way ahead of time to ensure secure supply and pricing. It’s no easy task! And finally, sales. In 2020 we registered record JLM sales and 2021 was again a record year, topping 2020’s figures. So, despite the pandemic and its ripple effects we have managed to improve, step-up and sell more!
2. You have 40 distributors in 40 countries, each with a different car parc. How can the JLM Lubricants’ product portfolio serve countries with different requirements?
Our strategy is to offer a full range of products that matter to the professional motor mechanic the world over. But every market, every country has its own characteristics regarding the fuel mix and general age of their national fleet of passenger cars.
One of our strengths is that as a relatively small and agile brand we can adapt swiftly to changes and to meet specific demands from our distributors. That’s why it is crucial to have those close working relationships. They understand their market better than us.
3. Which territories offer growth potential for JLM in the next 5 years?
Our primary focus will be on growing our business with our current distributors. But we will also strengthen and improve our European network. We have a few unclaimed territories in Europe, so I would ask anyone interested in looking at the benefits of being a JLM distributor to get in touch. We will also expand our network in Southeast Asia. All in all, more than enough to keep us focussed for the next 5 years.
4. Tell us more about JLM’s ongoing campaign of ‘repair don’t replace’.
Many technicians are yet to buy into the fact that modern day chemicals can help them to do their job. Often the use of a chemical is cheaper than replacing a component. This of course benefits the motorist. So, we continue to reach out to car mechanics globally showing them what JLM products can do and how they help in their daily work of fixing cars. If a repair can be made with a chemical this has to be better than using a replacement part – for all involved including the planet.
5. Which JLM products do you anticipate will be in universal demand in the next 5 years?
The JLM GDI Injector Cleaner (in tank additive) together with the JLM Direct Injection Valve Cleaner (aerosol) are at the top of the list. In the EU 50% of petrol cars have Gasoline Direct Injection engines. And every new car is now fitted with a GDI. So, these engines are rapidly taking over but they do present with contamination problems that require different cleaners. Technicians are becoming aware of the problem but the need for these products is growing at a much faster rate. Inevitably it is the technicians that are recognising the need and acting on it that are generating additional business by attracting clients with cars presenting with these typical GDI problems.
Secondly, the Petrol Particulate Filter (PPF or GPF) Cleaner fuel additive. This is a relatively new phenomena for the aftermarket. I am excited that we are offering this product. But we are at the beginning and are yet to find out how this filter will behave. But when the demand is there, we have the supply covered!
Finally, JLM is of course well known in the industry for leading the Autogas industry with Valve Seat Recession Protection (VSRP) and our specialized DPF cleaning product range is supported by The DPF Doctor Network. Because the professional trade is satisfied with the quality of our products, they naturally want to find out more about our full range. We have some of the best problem-solving products in the world plus excellent conditioners and oil additives. So, we expect to be selling an even wider range of products in the coming years.
6. Looking at JLM Lubricants today – what are you especially proud of?
I am proud of the fact that our products are endorsed by some of the world’s leading industry technicians! I am passionate about quality and reliability and this unerring focus underpins our brand and is shared by my team. And I cannot be prouder when I see people and organisations that I look up to sharing their love of JLM products.
7. Lubricants is a competitive sector. How will JLM maintain its competitive edge in the next 5 years?
We will maintain our competitive edge by sticking to our brand values. And we will continue to learn and improve. We are always close to market trends and innovations, and this enables us to react without delay. Complacency is not a word in our vocabulary!
8. You market JLM as being a trade trusted brand. How important is the mechanic to JLM Lubricants?
That is an easy one to answer. The professional motor mechanic is the jewel in our crown.