Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012
Engineer working on the machinery within the bonnet of a car
Vorsprung Durch Export
Experienced industrial designer and Managing Director of Dura, Dominic Wishlade, developed the concept of integrated workshops in 1997. Using similar principles to the fitted kitchen,He created an innovative, modular system specifically designed for garages and workshops. Although originally designed for the residential market in the UK, Dura’s workshop system soon attracted interest from Thatcham, the UK’s motor insurance research repair centre.
Dominic explains, “Thatcham plays an important role in the insurance repair industry. They were in the process of re developing their workshop, saw our system and knew it would
deliver both a professional looking workshop and a good working environment for their staff.”
As Thatcham works closely with all the major prestigious car manufacturers around the world, the new Dura workshop system soon started to gain a lot of exposure across the sector. High end automotive retailers were starting to review their aftercare strategy. Historically the dealership showroom was always immaculate, but behind the scenes, where the profit was made, the workshops were often in disarray, cluttered with different equipment from different suppliers and presenting a general lack of professionalism, care and attention.
The forward thinking premium brands were considering installing customer viewing areas, branding their workshop areas and also improving the working environment to help with staff retention.
“The timing for Dura couldn’t have been better, we were offering a real and visible solution,” says Dominic, “Aston Martin were very forward thinking and incorporated it into their workshop design. Together with fellow Director David Green who is responsible for future installations, we realised this market was potentially huge and we needed to take a close look at our strategy.”
Dura decided to pursue the international automotive sector and specifically premium brands. Unsurprisingly the German market became a top priority and to support their international sales effort, Dominic called on the services of UK Trade & Investment. Accessing new markets
Dura’s International Trade Adviser Ian Thompson explains, “Dura commissioned an OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Service) for Germany. “This allows UK companies to access UKTI trade teams across the world and tap in to their local expertise. Dominic used their OMIS to gain a better understanding of the market, discover who the ‘specifiers’ would be for their type of product and identify new contacts.”
After the completion of their initial research, Dura decided to exhibit at Automechanika Frankfurt, the world’s biggest trade fair for the automotive aftermarket, and appointed Stephen Jacques as Export Sales Director to head up the export sales side. “We were generating a lot of interest at the exhibition, it was the ideal environment to showcase our innovative new systems,” says Dominic. “Ian was there on the UKTI stand and introduced us to UKTI’s automotive sector lead in Germany, Dr Astrid Ritter Heinrich.”
Dominic recalls the meeting, “When we were asked by Astrid, what would help our export drive in Germany, I said, slightly tongue in cheek, ‘Could you get us in to see Audi?’ Within a
couple of weeks of our return to the UK, we received a call from Astrid with the name of a contact! Audi were at that time in the process of reviewing their workshop corporate identity and now, after a lot of follow up and hard work, our systems are the recommended standard for Audi dealerships across the world.”
“UKTI opened the door for us at Audi; I wouldn’t underestimate how important that was. Having someone from the British Embassy phoning on your behalf has a huge influence.”
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