Staying in Aussieland
I have just returned from a two-week long trip to Australia and New Zealand. Even if it is not my first time, I always feel a thrill when visiting these beautiful countries. It is never “business as usual” trips, because there are so many things to see and experience that you never stay in the hotel room. You find somewhere strength and will power to breathe the air of the countries, which by definition are on the other side of the globe.
My first stop was in Melbourne, Australia. It is a special city for any Greek, since Melbourne is the largest city outside Greece with citizens of Greek origin. From 6th to 8th of April, a bi-annual Collision Repair Expo took place in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition center. Without a doubt, it is the largest event for car body and paint business in the region. While I am not a novice to trade fairs, I must admit that I was coming with kind of “being there, done that attitude”, Melbourne Expo pleasantly surprised me by the quality of attendees.
First of all, people came from all corners of Australia (to be referred as Aussies), from New Zealand (Kiwis is the name they like to be called), and from other Pacific nations, like New Caledonia or Fiji. Just for the sake of comparison, coming to Melbourne from Perth, you need to drive for 3421km . This is longer distance than driving from Frankfurt to Amman in Jordan.
Secondly, I really enjoyed open interest from the visitors for anything new and unknown. People are eager to come and ask you questions. Probably that is a part of Aussies natural curiosity for the novelties from far away countries. Who knows.
Thirdly, I was really happy to see a lot of young guys, apprentices who came to learn and absorb information. You could really spot them coming with their master craftsman, carrying bags with catalogues and samples, just like children coming first to Disneyland. Taking into account the shortage of young generation in the bodyshops across Europe, I am sure that in Australia, with its developed apprenticeship program, some things are done in the right direction.
Finally, I loved the atmosphere of salesmanship in the air. People, unlike in Europe, talk business without too much messing around. Straight, bold, and very cost effective for the exhibitors, who pay big bucks for the booth space.
Of course, all positive feelings are mainly due to the great effort from the side of our exclusive partner in Australia – Blackline Australasia. Thank you Milton and Arch. Looking forward to see you again soon.
Going to the land of Silver Fern
New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful place. If you like traveling, this country must be in your bucket list. Vast, green meadows, huge, like palms, fern trees, and amazing, strong like their rugby team, people, will meet you once you arrive to New Zealand. Why Kiwi? The name comes from a flightless bird, native to New Zealand only. It is a symbol of the country, and its most protected treasure. So, don’t mess with Kiwis’ Kiwi!
Etalon is present in the New Zealand market for about two years now, and we enjoy steady and healthy growth, thanks to our exclusive distributor – Total Body Shop Supplies. Kelvin and his team are doing fantastic job, and I am very proud to work with them.
Talking about car refinishing business, I would like to stress one very important thing. New Zealand is not another state of Australia. Market in New Zealand has its own characteristics and preferences. Many colleagues of mine, for some reason, believe that whatever is good in Australia, will be definitely successful in New Zealand. Not really. Consequently, a lot of European and American brands give the dealership for New Zealand to their Australian partners. It is a big mistake. In order to be successful, you definitely need a local importer. There is no other way.
Kiwis are also curious minds. They give a chance to a new brand. I like this side of Kiwis very much. In Europe, and especially in the US, being a newcomer is tough there. New Zealanders search for the best product for them, and they embrace new if it fits their needs. I remember a meeting with Michael Ellis from Bodyshop Supplies in Paraparaumu. He has both practical and theoretical knowledge of car repair trade, a person you can always learn something from. After this meeting I left full of ideas about new products and projects.
By coincidence, container from Greece arrived to Wellington when I was there. Probably it is one of the best moments in my career, when I witness how our order arrives to the customer, especially after two months drifting in the ocean. Kia Ora as they say in Maori language – see you soon!