Conquering the globe, one store at a time: An Exclusive interview with Adrian Smiechowsky of Point S Development
Point S dealers network is a name tyre industry is quite aware of, With their existence in 27 countries & with their presence in more than 3000 locations they kind of become hard to ignore. Recently we caught up with Mr. Adrian Smiechowsky who is the International Development & Key Account Manager at Point S Development. Adrian was in India on his maiden trip to attend TyreExpo India 2015 where he met with the team of tyre times. Below is the Exclusive interview of Mr. Adrian Smiechowski.
1. Mr. Smiechowski, there is a lot we would like to talk to you about but, let us start by throwing some light on your life before you joined Point S development. Would you like to share your story with us ?
I am 36, married and I have two children who are 5 and 8. I was born in Poland and moved to France with my parents when I was 11. I studied international trade at la Sorbonne University in Paris and have a Master’s Degree in Foreign Trade specialized in Central and Eastern Europe from the University of Rennes, France. Before I joined Point S I spent 2 years in Slovakia developing sales in Central Europe for a French company, which produces electric transformers. After this experience I came back to France and joined Point S Development in 2007.
2. How has been your Journey with Point S Development so far?
The journey has been extremely enriching both from the professional and personal point of view. In 2007 we started with 11 countries and approximately 1,200 locations. Today point S is present in 27 countries with over 3,300 locations. These results have been reached thanks to the involvement of the whole Point S Development team, which counts now 8 people, and I am very proud to contribute to this success. Moreover, point S is above all else a story of Men. Our partners in the different countries are our business colleagues and at the same time friends. We are building the success of the network together.
3. So you have been with Point S for almost 8 years now. As the timeline suggests the company has grown manifolds since. What according to you has been the key to success for such a growth?
I think that there are subjective and objective reasons. As said previously human factor is an important side of the business. We have succeeded to establish a strong relationship with our partners based on trust and transparency. Then, the success of Point S comes from the historical values of the group that was created in France in 1971: in-dependency from anyone, supplier or industry, multi-brand policy, marketing approach, private label strategy, etc. Thanks to these core values Point S is today the only major independent player on the market and an alternative to the manufacturer controlled players.
4. There is hardly a corner in Europe where Point S doesn’t exist & with USA, South Africa & Canada a part of your growing network, are we looking at the prospect of a truly Global existence for Point S?
It is true that except Spain, Point S covers all the major tyre markets in Europe. With our new partnership in the USA (Tire Factory) and the rebranding of our partner network in Canada (Unimax) we also became a major player in North America. We are aware of the fact that Asia &South America represent a big potential and we are naturally keeping an eye on these continents. To answer more precisely your question, we definitely want to become a global player and consolidate our position of market top player. Growing helps us to remain independent versus suppliers which are all global companies.
5. You were in India most recently, where you attended the TyreExpo India 2015 & the TRiLA Awards. We understand that this also was your maiden trip to India. What are your takeaways from the trip?
Indeed it was my first trip to India and I hope not the last one? First of all, two or three days in a country are not enough to understand and judge a market. However, I feel that India is still a traditional market with strong local manufacturers and distribution controlled by small family-owned businesses. I noticed that the country is at a turning point and that these traditional model is about to change. Considering the size of the market global manufacturers will certainly increase pressure on the local ones and the distribution will become more organized. As a conclusion I am convinced that the market is becoming mature enough for a concept such as Point S.
6. Indian tyre market is one of the most unorganized market & can be hard to crack in the way that the business is run here. Do you think that it may pose some uncommon challenges for Point S. should you wish to start your operations here.
As previously said the market is changing and can potentially become mature enough for the Point S concept. Nevertheless, as in every new market, we will certainly face some challenges. Of course the size of the country is one of them. Secondly the importance of the motorcycle tyres will be something uncommon. Thirdly, local legislations and certifications (BIS for example) will have to be taken into account. Nevertheless, one the strengths of Point S is to rely on local partners that help us to overcome this kind of difficulties or specificities. We have the global experience and know-how but the local knowledge remains a key factor.
7. There are some companies in India that are already working tirelessly towards bringing a change in the market. Still, it is a fact that the tyre markets in Indian subcontinent are in need of a new ecosystem. Going by your experience in the field, what would be the best course of action to do so?
Indeed, I noticed that some companies are already actively working on the Indian market to set up a new ecosystem. The market is changing, and not only in India. One says that the tyre market has been changing more this last 5 to 10 years than during the previous 50 years. The main evolution is the change of focus. We moved from a market centered on sell-in (purchase from suppliers) to a sell-out (sell to end consumers) approach. The challenge in the future will be “how to sell tyres” and not only “how to buy at the lowest price”. The winner on the market will be the one who will find the right balance between helping the dealers to buy at the right price and supporting them in the sales to end consumers. This is the balance that Point S is aiming to reach.
8. So, what does the future holds for Point S Development & where do you see yourself in that future?
Point S Development constantly works to generate benefits for its member countries and at the end of the chain for the Point S tyre dealers. We will be working on projects that will help the members to preserve the profitability of their businesses and their independence. These projects include expansion in new markets, development of innovative IT solutions, marketing tools and private label strategy. In a limited time and with a reasonable number of people Point S Development achieved a lot, but many things remain to do in this continuously changing market. Personally, I was present at the beginning of this adventure and I want to be part as long as the group is ambitious.
9. Last but not least, if there was one advice you could give to those looking to enter the automotive or tyre industry or are just starting their careers in this industry, what would it be?
I do not think that I am in a position to give advice’s but people from the industry point of view I would say that to enter into the tyre business is like to catch a virus, it is for life. So my advice would be, before you start your career in this industry just ask yourself if you want to do it until the end of your life. For me it is too late, I am in.