Autotechnician caught up with JLM Lubricants founder Gilbert Groot and with Mike Schlup, Managing Director of Kalimex, the sole UK distributor of the JLM Lubricants’ product range…
Gilbert, what has the last 12 months been like for JLM Lubricants?
“Intense! I love being the CEO of such an agile, disruptive, and innovative brand but on a day-to-day basis I am pulled in many directions. So, I occasionally have to take stock and refocus. The last 12 months have been a 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 our international sales manager Jeroen Shutz and Manuel Pena who heads up JLM Portugal. 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 good conversation starter. It was time 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.”
Q: Mike, with the UK market taking a serious look at EVs and with the 2035 deadline getting closer will this impact on sales of JLM Lubricants products?
The latest official statistics show that new car sales are growing again compared to last year, especially as the supply of semiconductor chips begins to return to normal. However, compared to 2019, sales are still down 21%. Around 57% of sales were petrol, 17% full electric and 12% hybrid. The remainder of sales were diesel or ‘other’. Diesel engines continue to be unfairly punished following their demonisation by the UK government. However, used car prices remain strong because many buyers simply cannot afford to buy new during the current cost of living crisis. Despite the initial fanfare we are seeing a reluctance to buy used electric vehicles due to the lack of trust in the battery and motor life, not to mention the very real range anxiety. Finding a charging point that is available and working, and that does not take hours to charge the car, is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! With inflation and interest rates as they stand, it all points to a struggling market for new cars with ICE used cars staying on the road for longer.
“The key question is, will these used cars be well maintained? The Motor Ombudsman has already raised concerns that car maintenance will be neglected as motorists look to save money. A survey they conducted found that 32% of drivers said they would be spending less on motoring. However, feedback from technicians we are in regular contact with suggests that the average cost per workshop visit/service is increasing. It’s absolutely a false economy for a motorist to skip vehicle maintenance, especially as the average age of vehicles continues to increase. Although a routine service bill might be a few hundred pounds, a major mechanical failure can easily run into the thousands. For example, a replacement GDI injector can cost several hundred pounds just for the component, not including the labour required to fit it. For these reasons, JLM Lubricants’ products continue to rise in demand and popularity with the professional technician and the motor factor stockist. We are seeing a noticeable increase in demand for regular servicing additives such as Diesel and Petrol Injector Cleaner, DPF Regen Plus and Engine Oil Flush. And demand is rising for distress products such as Engine Oil Stop Smoke and Diesel Extreme Clean.
“JLM leads from the front with quality additives and as the UK distributor we keep on banging the drum that JLM products will deliver a first-time fix. Let’s not forget too that JLM products help the environment and with their emphasis on repair over replace plus products over parts. And they are part of the Circular Economy. So, I look to the future with optimism!”
Gilbert, what is the focus for JLM moving forwards?
“We have serious growth targets, and I’m pleased to report that we are on course to meet them. ‘Growing Together’ was the theme of our last 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 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.”
Mike, what is your ultimate vision for JLM Lubricants in the UK?
“Like JLM we have bold ambitions to grow our JLM business, aiming to double it in size over the next three years. And so far, so good! In fact, August 2023 was our biggest and best month ever following a record-breaking July, so we are heading in the right direction. But there is never room for complacency. We’re now knocking on the doors of major retailers and large chain motor factors and being given a decent hearing, which is great because it all starts with a conversation. It usually takes 12 to 18 months from that first contact to the products appearing on the shelves, so you must be tenacious and patient. With regards to professional technicians, we have built a customer base of several hundred mechanics – each one an independent business that is now using JLM Lubricants’ products. We will build on this in 2024 and aim to double the number of mechanics that turn to us for their JLM ‘fix’!
“Our relationship with JLM started 10 years ago and here we are 10 years later with Kalimex still the number one top performing distributor of JLM Lubricants’ products in over 46 countries. I have no intention of letting that award slip through our fingers! We have held it for 10 years too.”
To find out more about JLM Lubricants’ products visit www.jlmlubricants.com or call 01273 891162.