Get to know the man behind JLM Lubricants

Get to know the man behind JLM Lubricants

In business, success often hinges on a delicate balance between personal passion, industry knowledge, and strategic decision-making. For Gilbert Groot, the founder of JLM Lubricants, this journey began with frustration but evolved into a story of innovation and perseverance. Our editor, Tom Henman, made the journey to Amsterdam to meet the man himself.

Today, JLM Lubricants is available in 40 countries, servicing motor factors and technicians with technical sprays, lubricants, coatings, leak-stop sealants, cleaners and rinsing agents.

The inception of JLM Lubricants, though, made in The Netherlands, can be traced back to Gilbert taking over his father’s business, which specialised in distributing parts across Europe. Gilbert encountered a pivotal moment when he was approached by a non-European manufacturer with a unique additive. Seeing an opportunity, Gilbert decided to take a chance on this product, and it turned out to be a significant success.

However, as the market evolved, demands shifted. Concerns about the product’s effectiveness and the changing landscape of the industry led him to reevaluate his approach. This moment prompted Gilbert to consider launching his own brand, one that could address the needs of the market more effectively while allowing him greater control over the products he offered.

JLM Lubricants is born

Gilbert said: “The decision to create my own brand was not one I made lightly. I understood the importance of positioning a brand carefully in a competitive market. I knew that simply having a product was not enough; it needed to be superior to existing offerings and backed by evidence of its effectiveness.”

One of the earliest challenges Gilbert faced was in proving the quality of JLM Lubricants’ products – he said: “In an industry where trust and credibility are paramount, I knew we needed more than just marketing claims to win over customers.”

This led him to seek validation through rigorous testing, including road tests conducted by a German university specialising in automotive technology. These tests provided the scientific evidence needed to substantiate JLM Lubricants’ claims of premium performance.

Armed with this evidence, JLM Lubricants entered the market with confidence, focusing initially on the LPG sector where Gilbert had established networks and expertise. However, it wasn’t long before the brand expanded to address emerging needs in the industry, particularly in response to the growing issue of DPF blockages.

JLM Lubricants

Gilbert continued: “Recognising an opportunity to provide a solution to this widespread problem, we developed a DPF additive that quickly gained widespread attention and enhanced the brand’s reputation.”

As JLM Lubricants continued to grow, Gilbert faced the challenge of managing expansion while maintaining the integrity of the brand. With enquiries pouring in from around the world, Gilbert had to make tough decisions about where to focus the brand’s efforts.

He said: “Recognising the importance of partnerships and sustainable growth, I prioritised markets where JLM Lubricants could establish strong relationships and provide ongoing support to our customers.”

Personal journey

Gilbert’s reflections on the challenges of building JLM Lubricants, one of which being the strain of travel and the impact on him and his family were palpable. Asked if he still travels, he responded: “Of course I travel – there is no escaping from it in international business – but I am more selective than in the past. One of the beauties in life is cultures, meeting people. And I’m very much a people’s person, so that part I enjoy… But the wear travelling has on a person is often underestimated. And I have young children, and I learned an important lesson given by my dad…”

He paused, a thoughtful expression crossed his face, before continuing: “My dad said: ‘Gilbert, don’t make the same mistake I did.’ What mistake did you make? I’m perfectly happy. I have no complaints about my dad. He said: ‘I was never there; I was always working.’ That stuck with me.”

This poignant exchange underlined the delicate balance entrepreneurs often strive to maintain between their professional ambitions and their personal lives. It revealed a different side of Gilbert, shedding light on the human experiences that shape a business journey.

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