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Celebrating 15 years of KCS Automotive: Ritchie Kelk

As KCS Automotive celebrates its 15 year anniversary we took the chance to catch up with Founder Ritchie Kelk.

As KCS Automotive celebrates its 15 year anniversary we took the chance to catch up with Founder Ritchie Kelk.

Transcript of interview as follows:

How did you start out in the automotive industry?

So I started over 30 years ago on a YTS scheme in the parts department of a Robins and Day Peugeot business.

What did those formative experiences teach you about the industry and technology's place within it?

I worked in every department in the dealership, so I got to know the whole dealership, which was good and technology was very sparse then. So over the years, new technology has come in. In those days everything was manual, on manual sheets.

What inspired you to start your own business?

The key thing that inspired me was I always wanted to go out on my own. I could see there was a niche in the market for consultancy and some opportunities came about that made it possible to do.

What was your first project?

So my first project was in Qatar, training people on what was then called the Kerridge system.

KCS Automotive is now 15 years old, what has been the key to the continued growth and longevity?

Always keeping customers happy. We try and have a good rapport with all of our customers. The customers that we have got, we deliver key benefits, so they keep coming back. Some of the first customers we've got, we still work with today.

How have things changed in automotive retail in those 15 years?

So the key thing is technology has moved on massively. Everything was manual when I first started, people came into the dealerships. Obviously with Covid there's more online and digital now is becoming a part of everyday life in buying vehicles and parts.

What is the most challenging project you have delivered to date?

The major project we've done was for Inchcape. We had seven people working within the business with the business, and we delivered a change management program that affected every dealership that they had, over 120 at the time.

What are the biggest business challenges you have faced?

So in 2008, there was a major recession where all consultancy stopped for a period of 12 to 24 months. That was very challenging. We managed to get through that and obviously Covid all of our consultants go to site.  During that period, obviously no one could go to site. So that was a huge challenge.

What are the biggest business achievements to date?

Our biggest business achievement is really keeping going for 15 years. I think we're one of the only consultants that have continued for that period of time. And because of that, we have people that come back to us time and time again.

Who or what has inspired you most in the automotive industry?

Different people have inspired me over my career. One of the first CEOs I worked with at Inchcape was a guy called David Newbury, he was very inspirational. Started with Daihatsu online purchases, and then I worked for a gentleman called Nigel Eayrs, doing major projects for Inchcape. Then some of the senior management teams out there at the moment, the industry is changing, so new blood is coming in.

What makes KCS different from other automotive tech consultancies?

I think over the years, we've built up a really good team. They're all very experienced automotive consultants, all great technology people at the forefront of what's going on. And we really, between us, deliver some key benefits to all of our customers.

What motivates you every day?

Seeing the industry change over a period of time really motivates me. Seeing new people come in, new ways of working new products and new technology.

What's the one thing you wish you were better at?

The key thing I wish I was better at would be to be more organised.

How do you balance family life with running a business?

One of the benefits of running your own business, is you can work the hours you need to, so you can be at home for key events, but then you may end up working later to cover that off.

What do the next 15 years look like for you and KCS?

Well, I think the key thing we're going to be doing is working with larger partners and we've got some key partners we're talking to at this moment in time. Which should make a difference to the industry, so that's quite exciting.

If you had to start all over again, what would be the one thing you would change?

Well, that's difficult to say because obviously over 15 years there's ups and downs. I think the key thing is we've learned as we've gone along, so it's hard to say what we'd change, because as we've learned, we've changed what we need to do at that time.

For more information about how we can help you ensure commercial goals, business processes and IT systems are all perfectly aligned please contact the team today on +44 (0) 1635 592 972 or email enquiries@kcslimited.co.uk.

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