Change is a tricky thing. Some people welcome it. Others don't. But one thing is certain, change is unavoidable; a part of life that one cannot escape from. And above all, it is a process. An exciting process, that is. And yes, I am speaking from experience.
Our family owns Malabon Diesel, the exclusive service representative of Zexel. Then Bosch acquired Zexel and in 2004, we officially turned over to Robert Bosch Philippines the reins we have held for 26 years.
End of story.
Truth be told, I was apprehensive about the takeover. Who wouldn't be? The whole thing meant certain changes were to be put in place. New parameters were to be implemented, whether for the good of our family-run company or not, nobody could say with certainty. I took comfort in the fact that my parents have exposed my siblings and I to the industry at a very young age. We know how the industry works. And though we were fully aware that we were in for quite an overhaul, we were confident our family's entrepreneurial spirit would see us through. And we knew that to stay ahead is to accept change. But how do we accept and move forward?
1. Accept that change happens
General Motors just launched a new diesel variant. Continental bought the Siemens VDO unit. Hyundai increased stake in Kia. Volkswagen held stakes at Scania and MAN, and integrated them into their own truck division. The stories on new products, closures, mergers and acquisitions in our industry kept coming every week. We cannot stop the world from turning, but we can turn with the world.
When Japanese vehicle manufacturers were hit by poor sales in the late 90s, they divested their stakes in non-core businesses. One such is in Zexel. The likes of Isuzu and Nissan needed to restructure their production and sales operations, and accelerate development of newer models. Bosch wanted to gain market share and expand their manufacturing base in Asia. A simple economics concept – one needed to survive, the other wanted to grow. We mere mortals cannot do anything about that.
When we accept change, handling change will be easier.
2. Stop, look, listen.
Before panicking and jumping into conclusions, stop for a while to feel what is happening around you. When you get a clear grasp of the reason for the change, identify the possible opportunities and threats, do a rundown of your strengths and weaknesses, see what opportunities you can exploit with your strengths and what weaknesses you can eliminate to open up new opportunities.
Things will not happen overnight, especially when you are dealing with global corporations. But, uncertainty, which causes fear, is still our enemy. Don’t drown yourself in paranoia. Many ADS members are family-run. Talk to the family members to know what they are feeling. If you have bosses, get their ideas on how they think you should all go about the change. Since we most likely are part of a big service network, call the other network partners to see what’s going on in their part of the world and how they are managing. Open that thick ADS directory. The grapevine can give us plenty. Then communicate this to your internal partners to give them peace of mind too. The more you know, the farther you will see ahead. Putting together even just bits of information will help give you better basis to plan for tomorrow.
Malabon Diesel’s strength is repair and testing of all Zexel (formerly Diesel Kiki) pumps and injectors used in Japanese vehicles and equipment, and similar conventional Bosch systems. The opportunity in the change is learning to correctly handle Bosch electronically-controlled diesel and commonrail systems installed in American, European and Korean vehicles.
At the end of the day, we too gained.
3. Be part of change
To fit in your new role and family, you need to be flexible. Remember, in this union, we are the little guys. There will be similarities and differences, and some of your old ways will surely have to go. But instead of resisting, try first what the new partners are offering. For them to acquire our principal partner, their business model must be more successful.
With the directive and support from my parents, we geared Malabon Diesel to be part of the change. We invested on new equipment, software and training to properly repair Bosch commonrail technology. This gave Malabon Diesel more stability, flexibility and the capacity to meet modern vehicle service requirements. Like what we had with Zexel, the good professional relationship with now principal partner Robert Bosch is a contributing factor.
We may have upgraded ourselves, but our goals remain the same – provide the best, fastest, most affordable and most convenient service to every customer.
Be part of change, but stick to your essence.
4. Never stop looking for opportunities
To a certain degree, we all have been involved in change. In the decades that you ran your business, you experienced change many times over. And you could not have survived the changes without sound fundamentals and some form of research and business planning that removed some of the uncertainty.
Whether you want a simple change in image, opinion, or want to change the course of diesel history, we have to first believe that we can face the always changing future. Our membership in the ADS has helped strengthened Malabon Diesel’s commitment to quality and professional service. The conventions served as avenues to source out relevant industry and technical information and trend opportunities. Doing regular visits to the ADS conventions and reading trade publications like this are indications that you accept change and that you are an important part of it.
But thread cautiously. You do not have to accept all opportunities that come your way nor carry every diesel brand in the market. Specialization has its advantages too.
The diesel technologies that we see now are so different to the technologies your father mastered in the 70’s. There still exists opportunities in both old and new for the diesel specialists. Most of us don’t have to totally let go of the old. We actually see ourselves repairing conventional systems for another 10+ years. When operators extend the life of their fleets, we will see growing service demand for them to keep their old ones.
You are an important part of change.
The bottom line
You need to keep ahead in a world where nothing stays the same even for a day. You get your company and everyone and everything in it to shift directions fast to face a future that is full of uncertainty. When we diligently evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, we would know which change would affect us and not, and which bandwagon we should hop into and not.
Change is also something that almost all of us try to do at the turn of each year – with our new plans and New Year’s resolution. With the right attitude, you will see change positively different. With action, you will gain from the opportunities that change will bring.
Here is to a life changing 2013 for all of us!
This article came out in the Winter 2012 issue of the Nozzle Chatter. Download the actual article by clicking here .
The Association of Diesel Specialists (ADS) is the worldwide diesel industry's leading trade association, dedicated to the highest level of service on diesel fuel injection and related systems. Members are located throughout the world and consist of independent repair shops specializing in diesel fuel injection, drive-in, governor and turbocharger service. To members, ADS means worldwide recognition by diesel owners and operators and an industry support network. To member's customers, ADS signifies a network of professionals dedicated to the achievement of high-caliber service. Looking forward to seeing you in the next convention. Read the benefits at www.diesel.org.