WAI details how it negotiated the pandemic

WAI details how it negotiated the pandemic

WAI’s managing director discusses how the company has negotiated the pandemic and the current skills shortage.

Q. How has WAI responded to the challenges of recent years?

Richard Welland (RW): “Over the past two years with the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, we have sought to ensure our availability of product has been at its highest. The world continues to face unprecedented challenges, so it is critical that as a global business we continue to invest and plan so that we can continue to offer our partners the best products in the market. We have extended our UK warehouse to facilitate more stock and continue to develop the range and services offered to our global customer base.

“The growing vehicle parc, both in terms of age and number of vehicles, represents an opportunity for the aftermarket, and it’s important we work hard to retain business and support customers with growing their sales of rotating electrics.”

Q. WAI is obviously diversifying, with the introduction of new product types, so can you explain how WAI is supporting customers with this move into different product categories?

RW: “WAI is an auto electrical specialist and so our growth in recent years has been through the introduction of new product ranges, such as wiper motors and window regulators. Shortly, we will be extending our engine management range to over 1,800 SKUs. These will complement a motor factor’s existing offering and will also strengthen the WAI brand proposition. Window regulators, in particular, have often been perceived as ‘dealer only’ products, so it’s important garages and motor factors have access to this product range.


“Likewise, the automotive aftermarket should not be exempt from the opportunities a diverse vehicle parc brings and so we’re introducing more products to support a motor factor’s entry into electric vehicles. We’re one of the largest suppliers of EV charger cables into the market and will look to expand our footprint into this area further.

“WAI offers a comprehensive package of data and marketing to support all the product ranges and have recently started to produce and publish product videos across all the main social media platforms.”

Q. What is WAI doing to inspire a new generation of workers and keep its current workforce motivated?

RW: “The team at WAI in Bognor Regis really pulled together during the pandemic and was instrumental in bringing PPE into the aftermarket, as well as supporting local hospitals and charities. It demonstrated the very best the automotive aftermarket offers.

“In terms of recruitment, the automotive aftermarket needs to be more outward looking in its approach. As auto electrical specialists, we have attracted new talent from other industries and sectors who bring new ideas to the expanded offering we have. This brings a new dynamic and motor factors really buy into what we’re trying to do.


“There will be no quick fix in the skills shortage, but through the IAAF we’re looking at how we can best support motor factors and suppliers.”

Q. What impact has your role had on the IAAF?

RW: “I have been the honorary treasurer for more than 20 years and am now the president of the IAAF. The federation is on an accelerated path of modernisation that will see it remain relevant to its membership for decades to come.

“The number of initiatives we are working on is exciting, as is the return of our events calendar, which will see the annual conference and dinner return, with an emphasis on celebrating the best of our market.

“The lobbying work the IAAF does has also intensified, as we maintain one eye on developments with Europe, and the other on campaigning the UK government on raising awareness of the independent aftermarket.”

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