A chat with Rohan Amirthiah of WURTH
By Dyan Seneviratne of MOTOR
Dyan: You are popularly known as ‘Mr. Wurth’ – true?
Rohan: Some of the very first users of Wurth, who are still ardent fans do call me that! But I am no comparison to Professor Wurth, who still visits customers at 80-plus, a visionary, god-father figure and a role model for many.
Dyan: Fascinating! So when did your relationship with Wurth begin?
Rohan: In 1998 August, when a head-hunter arranged a very casual meeting with an executive vice president of WURTH Group who was holidaying down south. Before Wurth opened in Sri Lanka, I worked in Mumbai India for Wurth and also East Malaysia, the Sarawak region; learnt the art of selling direct to small workshops. And Believed in the WURTH model. It is close to 17 years now with Wurth and the bonding is stronger than ever. Now I am responsible for the regional markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, The Maldives and of course the base in Sri Lanka.
Dyan: That’s a great and long partnership! How did the name WURTH come about Rohan?
Rohan: Reinhold Wurth, the son of Adolf Wurth, took over a two-man business in screw trading in Germany in 1954. He was only 17, and his surname, WURTH (WUERTH), is used along with the logo of the two screw heads. Like most other successful German companies, WURTH too is a family owned trust company, carrying the name of the founder.
Dyan: What are the best-selling ‘Wurth’ products in context of automobile after-market?
Rohan: Most vehicle owners know us from WIPERS to COOLANTS, PERFORMANCE ADDITIVES, the famous RAPID WINDSCREEN CLEANERS etc. However, our CORE auto products are used in the actual workshops, by trained mechanics and body shop technicians such as WINDSCREEN BONDING, BODY JOINT SEALANTS, EFI (Electronic Fuel Injector) Tuning products etc.
Dyan: I use many Wurth products and have been absolutely satisfied with all – one particular and indeed rare product is the Wurth stuff one applies on windscreen that finally repels rain water, making them little droplets – very effective when driving at speed! Your views Rohan.
Rohan: I am glad that you experienced this first hand Dyan. Unlike many other temporary rain repellent products, The WURTH NANO treatment is a TRUE NANO technology product. The effect is LONG TERM, even up to 6 months. The NANO particles are programmable, by a specific way of application, and they repel not only water, but any bird droppings and insects which splash your windscreen. Your wipers will last longer. You will see that the rain droplets do not flattens on your windscreen, but rolls down as water droplets. When rain drops flattens against the screen, only your windscreen is blurred.
Dyan: What do you feel about Sri Lanka’s automotive industry and infrastructure progress when compared with other Asian countries?
Rohan: We are an automobile consumer market. We import and use them. Of course Sri Lankans love their cars, and indeed love to show them off! This is good for the after-market. Fortunately, the after-market is not controlled by the manufacturers yet, albeit a few, yes. We see this mainly in the European car importers and few Japanese. Contrast to this, in India the 3S dealers (Sales, Service, Spares) are controlled by the manufacturers. To a country which was starved of Express-ways and good roads, the recent developments in Express-ways and good surfaced roads are like a Christmas gift! However, I personally think, it was our right to have had these roads done 20 years ago by the authorities for all the taxes we paid, and we should not think it was a gift from any government and be happy. If everyone did their job, we would have had the airport express way 15 years ago, and today we would be connected North, South, East and West with Express-ways. We do not have to build Express-ways like what India and china has to build, 1000’s of kilometers. Yet, we failed to capitalize on this advantage.
Dyan: So true Rohan! As someone intimately associated with cars & traffic, what key five-points would you offer to alleviate the daily [and at times ‘simply impossible’] traffic chaos?
Rohan: I am going to borrow a few points from MOTOR editor Nimal to answer this question!
Start from “I”, myself, me and be a courteous and polite driver. Use common sense. Don’t be a Neanderthal on the road. It does not matter how and who does what on the road. YOU, ME start driving on our lanes, don’t cut across, flout road rules etc. Change must happen from within. If a few of us can make it a “contagious” habit, there is hope that a chain reaction may happen and we see people changing. This will reduce unwanted congestion by 20%, according to Nimal.
Be like Singapore. If you can’t change them, force it down! End of the day, no one needs to like the rules, but just obey. Do you know that the Jay-walkers in Singapore get battened by the cops on the road? So we need Discipline instilled by hard measures: Impound Driving License! There will be a bit of a hue and cry, but nothing changes by being nice! This applies to every aspect related to traffic issues. Starting from issuing license and the test procedures, vehicle conditions etc. Stop Corruption in every area that influences our traffic chaos today. Issuing license to those who don’t qualify, issuing approvals to build structures by the road-side without parking, etc etc.
City planning. Authorities are allowing Shopping Malls, supermarkets, shops and buildings to come up without adequate parking space. Some Schools for example, mushroom right in the middle of the city, without any proper space for vehicles to drop and pick children. Authorities need to urgently attend to this. Like Nimal says, it is all a ‘patch’ solution that they do. Have public car parks in every small town; example Thalawathugoda, Battaramulla, Ja-ela, Moratuwa, Dehiwela, Nugegoda you name it. Make by-pass roads that skirt towns, so that we don’t have to crawl through towns.
Balance the vehicle population. As the new vehicles are registered, there must be system for the older ones to be scrapped. This is what many other countries do.
Invest in upgrading the public transport system, with comfort, on time reach, so that many will use it and reduce the current gridlocked on our traffic.
Dyan: Top 5 Points Rohan! Is Wurth only dealing with automobile after-market stuff or have you diversified on to other sectors? If so why and what? How are those ‘other sectors’ fairing?
Rohan: Wurth world-wide is known not only for automotive, but in construction, metal and maintenance, industry, sanitary and electronics markets. Wherever there is a need for repair, maintenance or build, Wurth is able to supply those fastening materials starting from screws nuts and bolts to high performance additives, anchoring technology etc. We have over 100,000 articles in the world-wide range and currently in Sri Lanka, we hold close to 2000 articles. High quality tools for the auto and industry are in focus at this moment. Construction industry has been on the rise, and we have already a team of 10 selling to the professional contractors, projects and to the trade. There’s a constant and innovative, vibrant buzz with WURTH always!
Dyan: How do you encourage your sales staff to be on top of their game with innovation?
Rohan: Consistently pursuing everything that has proven to be successful is our standard mantra. By engaging our customer, to build programs that provide profit to their organization is innovation at the first level. This is different to just buying and selling. Our sales teams are continuously working hand in hand with our customers to find solutions to their problems. Our customers highly appreciate and value this engagement.
Dyan: What are your main challenges in your business?
Rohan: [a] convincing Quality over PRICE [b] Creating a “Maintenance culture”. Buy a car for 10 million and then negotiate for Rs.100 for a good product! [c] Copy cats. You know what I mean! With a little knowledge and experience gathered from us, and then trying to import cheaper and low quality products and thinking that they can go to the same market and convince customers to buy on price. [d] I should say, also finding new talent to join. The new generation has their priority elsewhere with modern gadgets and gizmos, and finding the hardworking, people-oriented young talent is a challenge.
Dyan: Your advice to MOTOR readers re car maintenance gleaned from at least 17 years of hands-on driving your exciting business?
Rohan: QUALITY beats PRICE: Quality is not JUST the PRODUCT. Product may look and have the same labels maybe look almost the same! Yet, look at quality from all angles: Reliability, TRUST, after-sales service, environmental friendly, adhering to standards such as chemical and technical specifications etc. I must say today the consumer is much more informed, thanks to internet. So don’t make decisions on simply price point. Look for LONG term price advantage.
Dyan: What do you strongly believe in to achieve business success?
Rohan: Just DO it! A quote from professor Wurth is “We are all GIANTS of ideas and plans, but DWARFS of implementation”. So we as a team, focus on implementing our plans. Focused, consistent follow up on little things, that make up our big plans. Take one step at a time. Celebrate every milestone on your journey. Only then, can we keep our promise to our customers. And CUSTOMERS, who are loyal are our business success. End of the day, CUSTOMERS pay our Salary.
Dyan: The 3PS – People, Profit, Performance – what are your priorities?
Rohan: PEOPLE and PERFORMANCE. PROFIT follows naturally!
Dyan: Do you read MOTOR magazine? How would you rate it?
Rohan: From the very inception, WURTH and MOTOR has been a great FIT! As the only true MOTOR magazine, like the editor himself, it is a very simple and direct magazine, targeting motor enthusiasts. Unlike the big names in the MOTOR magazines from other countries, which is cluttered and goes a bit HIGH and over our head, MOTOR magazine appeals to all levels of the industry: and it is getting better as it ages, like old wine and perhaps like everything else!
Dyan: Thanks for spending time with us and sharing relevant and valuable insights and your kind and sincere words on MOTOR; you have proved to be a consistently loyal friend of MOTOR.