FROM A SINGLE PETROL BOWSER TO A $350 MILLION BUSINESS

Written on the 19 March 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

FROM A SINGLE PETROL BOWSER TO A $350 MILLION BUSINESS

VON Bibra Auto Village has revved up its number of Gold Coast dealerships, with the company opening a new Subaru and Mitsubishi centre at Robina next month.

The $6 million project, which will compromise two new showrooms, sales display areas, a detail bay, service reception area and three levels of parking from the roof top, sits on a 6000sqm automall site adjacent to Von Bibra's existing Holden, Nissan and Honda dealerships.

Once the show rooms open, every brand in the top 10 manufacturers in Australia (in terms of volume), with the exception of Ford, will be located at the CBDRobina automotive precinct.

This investment means Von Bibra will now own and manage four extensive dealerships - Robina, Southport, Helensvale and Ferry Road - operating nine different brands.

Group manager Wade von Bibra (pictured below) says over the past couple of years the family business has seen rapid growth, with its automotive operation now turning over more than $350 million annually and in excess of 9000 used and new vehicles leaving the car yards each year.

"We have grown from just having two brands to the nine brands that we have today and 370 staff," says von Bibra.

"I attribute the growth to a big focus on experience - we like to think that the experience of our clients is unique.

"We try and make sure that every time a customer comes in we fulfil a little bit more than their expectations."

Von Bibra says he is always looking for opportunities, with the company keen to open further dealerships on the Gold Coast.

The motor group's journey started in 1953 when Dudley von Bibra commenced business with just $30 in his pocket which he used to purchase a petrol bowser.  Two years on and the aspiring businessman started his own petrol station before purchasing a condemned hotel, which was set to be demolished, and transforming the site into his first car yard.

This business grew to be a dominant auto group in north Tasmania with more than 130 employees.  However when the opportunity arose to purchase a dealership on the Gold Coast, Dudley's son Warren, who was taking the reins of the business, jumped at the chance.  In 2000, the company sold up all car yards on the Apple Isle and focused its attention solely on its Queensland operations.

"I am very positive about the Gold Coast and very bullish about the area," says von Bibra, who is the grandson of the original founder and son of Warren.

"It is a fantastic place, we have people constantly coming into the area with population growth and that is a great thing for any business."

Looking at the automotive industry as a whole, von Bibra says a challenge moving forward is the inception of electrical vehicles.

"It is a very interesting time in our industry at the moment. We have electrical vehicles slowly eking their way into our market and I think that will change the dynamics of our industry a lot over the next 15 to 20 years," he says.

"You have Tesla which is doing very well in America in high-end electric cars. Even Apple have suggested they are interested in building electric vehicles, so I think we are going to see a big difference in the automotive side of things and it's how we embrace that and drive that forward."

Von Bibra is also driving corporate social responsibility with a raft of community support initiatives including donating $20 from each car sold to either of its supported charities, Bravehearts and the Animal Welfare League.

Since 2013, the motor group has raised $174,000 for Bravehearts to help educate, empower and protect Australian kids from sexual assault.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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