Rodrigo Ajates
former Sales and Marketing Director
GMB North America
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View from the Top

Mindful Timing Selection Trumps Premature Entry

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 10:46

The huge investments coming from both Asian and European OEMs in Mexico have made its aftermarket opportunities evident to even the most casual of observers. But spotting them is only half the battle, as seizing them at the right time is also crucial. “We may perhaps be a little bit late in fully committing to Mexico,” says Rodrigo Ajates, the former Sales and Marketing Director of GMB North America. A regular feature in workshops and garages in the US, GMB has sold its water pumps, suspension parts, and pan clutches in Mexico for 40 years. Ajates explains its tardy decision to build a plant here was a result of the company’s careful timing for when to jump on the Mexican bandwagon. He reasons that GMB waited until it was sure Mexico could play a major role in its worldwide supply chain, making it logical to invest significantly in the country. “GMB’s analysis of the Mexican market led us to realize that the aftermarket sector is slowly becoming more professional, but that a faster evolution would be needed as the market changes. With 33,000 family-run auto parts shops in Mexico, big US companies entering the market threaten to drive them out of business. They will soon have to adapt or disappear, given how quickly the market is changing,” Ajates warns.

Now that GMB has taken the decision to fully enter Mexico, the next step will be to establish a top-notch factory in the next few years that can manufacture needed product lines and support GMB’s expansion in South America as well as existing sales in the US and Canada. Two areas that GMB only recently entered will be part of its Mexican growth strategy: hard bearings and fuel pumps. “We have electrical component experience making water pumps for major Asian OEMs and installing these in hybrid cars. We are now expanding on that expertise by starting to make fuel pumps. These will be part of our new product lines that we are counting on to make our product offering more attractive in markets like Mexico,” states Ajates. Knowing the importance that Latin America as a whole could come to play in its worldwide sales, Ajates explains that GMB has already hired Spanish-speaking sales and technical service teams, backed up with a Spanish-language website. Aware of the importance of personal relations in Mexico, Ajates adds that GMB is busy creating a carefully crafted network of distributors and sales points. “It is not just about having the right product with the right coverage at the right time, it is also about having the right partners,” explains Ajates. As part of this network, GMB established warehouses and offices in Mexico despite the proximity of its facilities in Los Angeles. “Proximity is also essential for developing a strong relationship with the seller and final user. GMB has a strong series of technical seminars that we use to grow close to our distributors, and which allows us to get feedback on how to improve the products and services we offer in each market.”