Mike Schlup, Managing Director of Kalimex – the UK distributor of JLM Lubricants’ products – talks to Gilbert Groot, the company’s founder, about the role JLM plays in today’s competitive industry, and that of the future.
Q. When did you establish JLM?
Gilbert Groot (GG): I started JLM in 2010 out of a growing belief that clients deserved innovative products, products that were better than those I was offering at that time.
Q. What is your role in the business?
GG: I’m very much involved in most aspects, but predominantly in product and business development. I have a strong vision about how we should do things, and I have to be absolutely certain that everything is to the quality standard that a technician expects from us.
Q. How are you building the JLM brand in the UK and overseas?
GG: Having the right distributor for our products is crucial for success; in the UK, we work with Kalimex. We are responsible for presenting a credible and attractive brand, one that demonstrates why we only produce trade-trusted products. We provide our distributor network with as many tools as possible to support their efforts in getting our products into stockists, and then to the end user. This includes great product brochures, leaflets, corporate gifts and our mascot Luby, who made his debut a few weeks ago. We excel at listening to our distributors. We’re swift to respond to the needs in their markets, ensuring that we tailor our brand building initiatives to make them relevant.
In 2018, we launched an intensive marketing and sales support plan, which is full steam ahead for 2019. We created masterclasses in marketing and PR for our distributors to help them achieve better results from their marketing efforts, and to show them how to represent our brand.
We produce video content on our YouTube channel. Videos vary from being animated and informative, to detailed technical instructions for the professional motor mechanic. We have a clear vision of what our brand stands for and we have to ensure this is translated successfully in every country we have a presence in.
Q. Which products are your bestsellers?
GG: It varies depending on the country. Overall, our diesel and DPF related products are number one bestsellers globally, as is our autogas Valve Saver Fluid. However, in Japan, for example, we’re strong in underbody coating. In South East Asia, JLM Advance engine oil is the number one bestseller. For the UK market through Kalimex, we dominate the DPF cleaning market. I also attribute this success to The DPF Doctor Network. As you know, the founder of The DPF Doctor Network and a JLM brand ambassador is Darren Darling, a technician who is held in high esteem by his peers. This helps promote our DPF products to the trade with real credibility.
Q. In a market dominated by big brand additive manufacturers, what sets JLM apart?
GG: I am asked this often. Our mission is to create top performing, top quality products for the trade and we stand by this. We deliver what’s written on the tin. Compared to the really big brands, we respond swiftly to market trends and reseller requests, whether this means bringing a new product to market or launching a marketing campaign in days.
Q. What tips can you give independent motor factors trying to compete in the UK market?
GG: If they have not already done so, I would say contact Kalimex so they can include the JLM product line in their offering. They can assure their customers that our products are the best, that the top performing technicians in the UK use them, and that they’ll always do the job. If the trade trusts your products, it makes selling to the customer walking through the door that much easier. We know from motor factor feedback that once a technician has used our products, they reorder. I would encourage motor factors to include JLM products in their weekly promotions. Generating trade awareness is that first important step in building interest and generating sales.
Q. What support do you provide motor factors for selling your products in a competitive market?
GG: JLM products stand out with their label design; modern, with a clear message, and they look like products a mechanic would trust. We also support motor factors with local and national trade shows. Whilst our support is shaped by our distributor/importer, motor factors can rely on regular sales specials; in-store support, marketing and videos. In the next few months, we’re launching a point-of-sale marketing toolkit for motor factors. Motor factors are important to JLM.
Q. You promote JLM as a company trusted by the trade. How do you back this bold claim up?
GG: It is a bold claim. It’s why JLM exists. Every product has a high concentrate of the actual working ingredients. We use additive packages from the top tier chemical companies only. We do not use any white label or untested ingredients. But most importantly, I would encourage motor factors and mechanics to verify JLM by searching online for reviews and looking at the many videos, including those produced by The DPF Doctor, Darren Darling.
Q. What part do you play in new product development?
GG: An active one. I pick up trends from the market and I discern trends through our distributor network. I pitch new product ideas with our resellers. I’m in close contact with our chemists to understand the latest developments and how we can turn these into new products. It’s one of the things I love doing.
Q. What is your vision; where is JLM going?
GG: There’s no better compliment than when a technician tells us they love working with our products. This keeps us moving ahead with confidence. We’re well on the road to becoming a globally recognized brand with distributors in over 40 countries. Our expansion into new countries will continue apace, underpinned of course by our existing range of products – and ones yet to be conceived – so we stay ahead of the curve.