CAREER-VIEW MIRROR - biographies of colleagues in the automotive and mobility industries.

Ingo Reisch: The "hybrid' car guy from Germany who arrived in Australia as a beekeeper and went on to build a successful automotive retail and property business.

October 23, 2023 Andy Follows Episode 139
CAREER-VIEW MIRROR - biographies of colleagues in the automotive and mobility industries.
Ingo Reisch: The "hybrid' car guy from Germany who arrived in Australia as a beekeeper and went on to build a successful automotive retail and property business.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

From beekeeper to hospitality to premium automotive retail, Ingo is now just doing the things he likes doing without the responsibility of employing staff, reaching targets and turning a profit.

Whilst he enjoyed building a very successful business, he's also loving the fact that he has time for most things he rarely found the time before; time for family and friends, time to go for a bike ride or a read a book and time to earn a little bit of pocket money along the way.

In our conversation we talk about his background and his family's roots in Germany. He explains his reasons for emigrating to Australia in 1983 and we explore his early job roles including his entry into the automotive world.

A family connection provided a very warm introduction into BMW Australia and from there he never looked back as he pursued a career firstly working for the manufacturer and then as a business owner.

You'll hear how it was Ingo's vision and appetite for business growth that caught the attention of his business partner and how that vision and ability to execute bold plans coupled with attention to detail enabled him to build and ultimately sell a successful business.

I found talking to Ingo fun and inspiring and I am excited to share his story with you.

Connect with Ingo on LinkedIn: Ingo Reisch

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Episode recorded on 2 October, 2023.

Ingo Reisch:

I was giving him a bit of an earful. And I was probably three years into working there. And I said, Look, I'm not sure you know, should I do something else? And he looked at me and he said, Ingo, the one thing you need to understand in these worlds, don't let anyone stop you doing what you want to do. So effectively, I've talked myself into resigning to save face, or resign the next day Monday, a walk into his office, instead of decided to leave, which I did. And that was great to

Aquilae:

Welcome to Career-view Mirror the automotive podcast that goes behind the scenes with key players in the industry looking back over their careers to share insights to help you with your own journey. Here's your host, Andy Follows

Andy Follows:

Hello, listeners, Andy here, thank you for tuning in. We appreciate that you do. We're also very grateful for our guests who generously joined me to create these episodes, so that we can celebrate their careers listen to their stories, and learn from their experiences. In this episode, we're celebrating the career to date of Ingo rice from beekeeper to hospitality to premium automotive retail Ingo's now just doing the things he likes doing without the responsibility of employing staff, reaching targets and turning a profit. Whilst he enjoyed building a very successful business, he's also loving the fact that he has time for most things he rarely found the time for before time for family and friends time to go for a bike ride or read a book and time to earn a little bit of pocket money along the way. In our conversation, we talk about his background and his family's roots in Germany. He explains his reasons for emigrating to Australia in 1983, and we explore his early job roles, including his entry into the automotive world, a family connection provided a very warm introduction into BMW Australia. And from there, he never looked back as he pursued a career firstly, working for the manufacturer. And then as a business owner, you'll hear how it was Ingo's vision and appetite for business growth that caught the attention of his business partner, and how that vision and ability to execute bold plans coupled with attention to detail enabled him to build and ultimately sell a successful business. I'm talking to no fun and inspiring, and I'm excited to share his story with you. Hello, Ingo, and welcome. And where are you coming to us from today.

Ingo Reisch:

So I'm in Melbourne have been here for a long, long time now, in our beautiful place in Vanga. Park, all good and ready to be interrogated by you.

Andy Follows:

It's far too long since I've been in Melbourne. Absolutely wonderful place that I have many happy memories of thank you for joining me in your evening time. As I do with all my guests. I'm going to start by asking if we could go right back to the very beginning plays to where you were born.

Ingo Reisch:

So you know Justin Bieber. And why I'm saying Justin Bieber is the town the little village our I was born is actually Bieber, just like Justin Bieber is spelled. It's near Frankfurt in Germany. I was born on the second of March 62 into a wonderful family, fantastic parents. I was the fourth in line, followed by my younger sister. I've got two older brothers and an older sister. And look just had a fantastic childhood, fairly careless childhood, I could do what I wanted. While my parents were extremely. It was really important to them that we all grew up in nature. And the nature is that my father had a doctor and forestry and loved nature. He was partly managing the German forest. So we were all involved. We were running around on weekends collecting box and in other insects, sometimes they had to be shipped off to Canada or down to spine for breeding. So we had a rather interesting use. And we had also I can extraordinary plantation, which I remember many, many, many days of picking strawberries and walking off with a very sore back. So there were lots of activities. And again, we've had fantastic mother, fantastic grandparents, and there is nothing I could ever complain about my childhood. It was just brilliant.

Andy Follows:

Yeah, it sounds like it sounds very close to nature very loving family. You didn't mention in the notes that you kindly shared with me, Ingo, that your mother's parents were both opera singers.

Ingo Reisch:

Yes. So they met at the opera. It was quite funny actually, my grandfather, also tenor, you know, studied music and so on. And he was a feeling for another 10 Or who had a sore throat. And it was Madame Butterfly, and he was the actual captain and she was the Madame Butterfly. And he just jumped in literally last moment and took the position of the tenor who was sick. And he then asked her out after the opera for supper, yeah, and they after it's all pretty much what what has happened. There is an interesting connection to it. This was all during the war. A lot of that happened in Berlin. I found in my grandpa's notes, that newspaper note saying a new Caruso, bone and so on. So he was quite a star. The war obviously, like for it, and so many other people put a spanner into things. But one of the opera knights were entertaining high end German generals, and one of them was gerbils. And my grandfather always told us the story that they had the supper afterwards. And he said, opposite gerbils. And gerbils ask him if he's in the party. And my grandfather was totally not interested in the party or anything with, you know, last season and so on. And it's good, I think, to talk about that, because it's something I think a lot of a lot of Germans have got a hang up about, but so he said, No, I'm not in the party. And what happened is, the next day, he got his marching orders, because then the entertainment had to stop. And gurbles made sure that you had to go to the front and fight like everyone else. And only his skills in languages. He was extremely good with English, French, and so on. He was also a teacher, not just a utensil saved him that he came out of out of the war, obviously, in one piece. And my grandmother, the other opera singer, she is, quote A Dutch, and comes from a family where her grandfather was quite a well known Dutch, all Pinter, and then relocated to Berlin for her to study music. So it's quite an interesting link. And as I understand the old painter, the grand grandfather actually went to my father's parents property and his pressure, which was a horse breeding property, and painted at the time the family in oil to which is quite funny.

Andy Follows:

Absolutely. Is it a painter that people will have heard of? Because it was yes, a famous painter?

Ingo Reisch:

No, but if you go to your fallen dump in Holland, and you go into the local town hall, and you walk up the staircase, there is a huge painting of my grand grandfather fund. Aha. And yeah, so you know, in Holland, he's quite well known, but it's not a Rembrandt or, or any other really well known painter. And the family has lots of the paintings in our possession of course. Yeah. So it's a look, we're not after the the value of paintings. It's more the history.

Andy Follows:

Yeah. And the colour, it's a lot of colour you're bringing to the conversation already in that heritage that you have, is the first time I think gerbils has been mentioned, he's made an appearance in the podcast. So

Ingo Reisch:

it's probably something like, you know, that like the Germans will be say, Don mentioned the war. That's quite right, right. But again, I have a slightly different view there. I think it's important to grab it, shake it, look at it, see what happened and acknowledge what has happened to

Andy Follows:

I think that's fair, and if you say don't mention the war to an English person or British person, they're just gonna think of Fawlty Towers and John Cleese with Rachel we've heard a little bit about how your childhood was in terms of this wonderful supportive family structure. Let's talk a little bit about education and school. How would your teachers have described the young Ingo at school

Ingo Reisch:

so schooling in Germany is is mostly free if you are going to a private school most private schools that means you really need extra help. So your your public schools are all fantastic so it's a slightly different system to Australia and England. You don't pay for school education at level for your for you then can move into high school. But for that you need to you need to get tested, and I actually failed and how had to do year five twice, which was highly embarrassing for me. But I sort of picked us up and moved on in life and went to a school which went up to year 10. Then move from that school to a high school, which was heavily weighted towards economics. And if I would have continued in the economics path, I could have jumped into an economics degree at maybe semester five or six, because I was quite prepared through the schooling. But I actually had no interest in economics. Funny, isn't it? We're currently it's all about economics for me. I had interest in in film and photography. And I actually had myself registered to go to the university in Colonia, which is quite famous in Germany. But then the little spinner was thrown in, which is compulsory army service. So I had this dilemma that my two brothers both older, telling me that they didn't enjoy it. Particular one of my brothers, he was quite a rebel, and just thought it was wasting his time. So I was very empty, going to the army and doing compulsory service. And obviously, I went along with the trends, you know, what happens if no one turns up at a war, then you don't have any fighting and so on. So, you know, I'm not really interested in learning how to kill people, I mean, all that sort of stuff, which I think is all relevant, obviously. But there are some arguments and I there's a formal way of applying to get relief of this compulsory service. And through that formal application into the letterbox at Frankfurt Airport, when I escaped to Australia.

Andy Follows:

So how old were you planning

Ingo Reisch:

21 I finished school with just over 20 I was working for a few years in a beekeeping mailing business, sort of the what you consider to die, you know, like your eBay and so on. It was a mailing business all over Germany, but their printed catalogue, still very old fashioned. And I was working there earning fantastic money and learning about the products and bees and so on. And then I tried through various paths to get the Trump cart, an Australian permit to come to Australia as a migrant. That's for lots of Germans probably more so now than 30 odd years ago, 40 odd years ago, that was already then a pinnacle, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, but New Zealand, Australia was just amazing. So how

Andy Follows:

have you got the idea? If I may ask, how would you got the idea to come all the way to Australia, that's quite a long way.

Ingo Reisch:

It's a quite a complex one, but also quite funny. My older brother decided he wanted to leave Germany and go to Australia. And he spoke to my girlfriend's father, who worked for an English company in Germany and wasn't happy there. And was at that sort of time in life where he probably went past his use by date in this particular profession. So he actually picked that up and migrated to Melbourne. So now I was in a situation that, you know, surely I should follow where my girlfriend's family is gone. But my girlfriend was still in school. I was still at school. So it happened. I finished school earlier. Yeah. And look, I literally packed up my stuff and left as a bit of an adventure. Totally green behind, but he is the English, okay, you know, school English. If you would have said, Have you had a bank account? No. Mobile phones didn't exist. I was extremely angry.

Andy Follows:

And can I ask How about your family? What did they think about this idea?

Ingo Reisch:

My parents didn't like it at all. My siblings, I think, loved it. And there's more to because I've got a sister and a brother now in Australia as well. So maybe they followed me or maybe I just I just was the first one who got the taste for it. But my parents always wanted to migrate to Southwest Africa. So they spend a bit of time there and, you know, adventure and so on. I think it's probably all these Post War Syndrome. I just quickly go back to my parents use, which was highly occupied with the war. And his parents resided in East Prussia. As I mentioned, they've had a horse property, very famous stracchino horses. And the whole start was very famous in Germany. Next to Kenan which is one of the most famous ones it was probably the second famous on end, he's lost everything, including, of course, my parents, like my grandparents lost everything. And I think it gave him such a shock. Because they arrived in West Germany as refugees. They retreated like refugees, which is a bit like I mean, you know, maybe not as extreme as the refugees today arriving in Europe, but it was similarly, because a lot of people in West Germany, yes, they went to the war, but life continued for them, they still have their property, they're still still had everything else in place. In this particular post estate, people was big. Like, I've just found documents when I went through an old Auntie's paper, like stables for 600 horses, wow, for a village with 10 homes, you know, which, which they cared for that every family in there. And then my grandmother had to pack up everything when the Russians arrived, and literally rolled over his Prussia, to get to Germany. And that's just what it is anymore. But she picked up everything and rescued all the people in the village. The story goes, that we be my grandparents were hiding Jewish people on the farm, got caught. And my grandfather, who was also an officer in the army got sent off to be shot. And only because of the strong influences my grandmother had, she was very well known. She was a fun Vagner. And, you know, in the right circles, she got him out of out of prison. And then the Russians came, and no one really cared anymore, you know, like trying to put people into line. So I think my, my father in particular, was very keen on probably leaving Germany himself, but he never did. And maybe because he had five kids, single income earner. And his career was probably very limited to a point, you know, with the German language and so on. But I think they were always a bit miffed that I left Australia, and probably only in the last 10 years or so they were maybe seeing that was a good move. Right. But again, and look, we need to talk about that later. But with BMW, it gave me such an unbelievable opportunity to actually visit Germany, but also Europe, at a much higher rate than I ever did before. And I mean, when I was in, growing up in Germany, Canary Islands, going to France, maybe Belgium, that was it, Switzerland, when I'm thinking about it. Now, why on earth did I never get across to the UK? I love the UK, going across to Europe, no, quickly down to Athens or flying to Rome or something coming from Australia. It is a completely different. You're viewed differently.

Andy Follows:

Yeah. So thanks for that in a really interesting backstory. How was it for you though, when you arrived in Australia,

Ingo Reisch:

I have to say it was very tough. It was an emotional roller coaster. And I said before about this hybrid human right. I wasn't then a hybrid human. I was quite a naive, young German, and everything in Australia was different. Door handles even worked the other way. Keys get put in the other way. That was like, Oh my God, how is that possible? That's just not so German at all. In Germany, you have a barrel for left and a right hand door, you know, here we just put the key the other way around, what's the big deal? So everything was quite different. And the way I came to Australia was as a beekeeper, so to get to Australia, I had to face the Australian Embassy in Colonia had an interview and I was a specialist for an Italian be spaces called konica. The Latin name konica and Kanika is a very nice be they're not aggressive in Australia has had a lot of aggressive fees, so very difficult to handle. So I was because of the exposure of these mailing business, I had the option to train with my boss at the time, he was obviously beekeeper a really old fashioned beekeeper, you know, with the pipe and you know, the beekeeper outfit and so on. I was able to learn a little bit about bees. I wouldn't say I was a fantastic beekeeper, but I wasn't afraid of them. And you know, I understood, that's what you do. That's how you get the honey and so on. So I helped my girlfriend's father here to look after his various beehives which he had scattered all over the Dandenongs and on, you know, orchards where people wanted to get their, their fruit trees pollinated and so home. And I did that I did that for a few months, but then decided I need to go live in I need to get a proper job because that wasn't a job. I wasn't paid. I was just getting freeboard and Emile here and there and he was very nice to me. So I moved out into a shared flats in Hawthorne with a lovely lady Carolyn. And I got one of the rooms there. And she every so often told me I should go to the cinema. She actually paid for my ticket. Worked out what was happening. She was seen a gentleman from up the road. Yes, it happens. nd the gentleman up the road turned out to be my father in law. That's

Andy Follows:

complicated. He became your father in law?

Ingo Reisch:

Well, yes, obviously. That was why his daughter

Andy Follows:

said, This is how you met your wife, essentially.

Ingo Reisch:

Well, Carolyn, my flatmate, so to speak, she was the conduit. What really happened is that I had an old beetle. I started deeply in cars, you know, like, like buying a car and then restoring it and selling it again, although it's a bit of a hobby. And I was taking this car to a place to get a road movie. And it was my fault. I drove drove through an intersection with the sun coming up in the morning. And I didn't see that the intersection actually had a red light. So I when I drove into the intersection, I sort of skated into the intersection on the side and actually slammed into a car off to old people who were going off to the doctors. No one was injured. It was just a little side scratch, but obviously they were shaken up. And then I was a little bit a bit shocked that the car was sold. I had that car sold and had a trip booked to go to my brother's wedding in Germany. So now I've gone back to this apartment and said to Carolyn, I need to get this car fixed. And she said, You need to go up the road and see Terry Kerrigan, which is shown as dead my wives my wives did. So I went in there and he fixed it up and I sold, sold the car two or three days later, it wasn't big damage, you know, like a side sale damaged and so on. And that's how I actually got to know Shawna. Shawna was trying to flog me off to a friend of hers. Monique from Canada who's like an exchange student. But I've said to Shawna, I'm actually interested in money. I'm more interested in short term. And I remember shown us 18th Birthday arrived with a book about German castles or European castles, I should say, because she always loved the idea of castles. And I had a black forest tank. Now Andy, she took the blackforest cake, put it in the fridge, took the book, thanked me for it and then suggested that I should go out and find some friends and come back in a few years time. So let's let's say this right around 10 minutes after oath came in to drop the cake and the book and Bucha Happy Birthday. I'll find myself again. Also the whole store thinking what happened here, I didn't even get a piece of cake

Andy Follows:

love it. So I'm gonna jump in. Thank you. That's gorgeous story I'm gonna jump in because if we look at yours as their classic young man leaves home, goes 1000s of miles overseas and fast forward 3040 years, you're healthy. You've explained to me that you're comfortably off, you've got enough wealth, but you've also got a happy marriage to Shauna and you've got two wonderful kids so how do we get into your first proper job if you like then it go.

Ingo Reisch:

So obviously moved into Hawthorne got sidetracked with with Shauna and her father and the father I need to give you more stories about that later because he's character in a film was done about in a movie called the castle. You might have seen the castle that's all about Terry Kerrigan and wow, I'm gonna have to look that up. So but yes, I walked into choses receptions in Canterbury, because they actually sponsored me as a European wine expert, but the Australian Embassy wasn't interested. They said we don't need wine specialists. We need beekeepers. So hence I went down the path of the bees, but I still walked in to thank them for actually giving it a goal and the two partners both real characters. One partner, Oscar said, why don't you come here at 12 midnight on Friday. And as it happened, it was grand final day, the next day. I really was puzzled. I said, I'm not sure what he means why should I turn up at midnight at this function centre. So anyway, I turned up and it was a hive of activity there and I got introduced to the setup team. They were setting up all night for a breakfast, a grand final footie breakfast. And it was for 700 people. So we had to bring tables up, we had to change rooms to have dividable walls in the end, so on an old map the whole place and set up these breakfast tables. And I literally never left that place for years, they after invoke myself up to the floor manager, so managing all the setting up of functions, and then after working hours, normal working hours, they put me in as a service service writer as well, which was quite funny. A few years later, during one of these 40 final breakfasts. I actually had my future father in law, Ed, one of the tables I was serving on, and I learned that some Australians don't use make for the cereal. They use bill.

Andy Follows:

Oh, it's that how prevalent

Ingo Reisch:

he did. He did. And I was his best friends. I had to bring him drinks after drink after drink. But at that time, I was I had no car. I had no bicycle. I was walking. So I was walking from Hawthorne to Canterbury four K's along the train line in it sounds a little bit bit silly. I was earning peanuts 67 new dollars a week. I was still buying stuff like typical Australian food and sending that to my parents in Germany like Vegemite. Or you know, things I thought were special and you can't get in Germany. Yeah. So when they were doing the canopies in the kitchen, I was actually taking the cross, they were cutting the sandwich, leaving the end pieces. And I took the end pieces home and made a bread and butter pudding with it. Because it was all about preserving money because I didn't have any money. So important to not arrive with $9,900 in Australia. So that was my capital. Within 12 months, I actually wanted to fly back home. And I remember I went by train into the city to the quantities office and actually said, Look, I'd like to buy a return ticket, and it was over $2,000. So I didn't have enough money to buy it. That's how I actually ended up staying because I couldn't afford flying back.

Andy Follows:

And so why did you want to go back home?

Ingo Reisch:

I think because everything was so different. And it was probably homesick. But it was great for me thinking back. It was fantastic. And the guys that chose us really put me under the pump. I had to do everything from pulling gearboxes out of cars, rendering at their private homes, like doing hard render on their homes and so on. They pushed me, which was again, great. And I remember I was on the peak roof of a mentioning queue, which was the other boss, a lovely guy. And we were doing roof tiles on the cementing the you know, the roof tiles in and so on. And I was giving him a bit of an earful. And I was probably three years into working there and I said, Look, I'm not sure you know, should I do something else? And he looked at me and he said, Ingo, the one thing you need to understand in this world. Don't let anyone stop you doing what you want to do. So effectively, I've talked myself into resigning to save face, or resign the next day Monday, I walk into his office and said, I've decided to leave, which I did. And that was great too.

Andy Follows:

And did you have something to go to or were you are

Ingo Reisch:

being in hospitality you always get something so I went into a little restaurant and enjoyed. I went to do another regular restaurant. I was okay and I ended up in a Jewish restaurant out of all places, which I laughed a place called Goldman's restaurant down in Caulfield, and I was the maitre d there and in Australia I'm not sure how you see it. But hospitality isn't seen as a profession. Not so much the ownership of hospitality but working in hospitality. It's a job it's you know, getting a bit of cash in endzone that's how I viewed in Europe, hospitality in particular Germany, Austria, maybe Italy. It's a perfect So it's it's a bit of an art. Yeah, so I was pretty much doing all the front of house of that restaurant silver servers and clearly up market and I made a lot of very high end, influential Jewish people in Melbourne. Fantastic, you know, loved it. And I think it's worthwhile mentioning that you probably know about a bar mitzvah, which happens on mainly on a Saturday. And of course, when you are highly Orthodox, you can't go in and work to the point you can't even open the door of a restaurant. So I was that a tool for Mr. Goldman, to open up his restaurant because I could do it. So he could tell me, you need to turn up at nine o'clock open the restaurant, set up the tables, and I've got a mitzvah. So it was very, very interesting. But one of the functions was we had an I'm not sure if it was the president are the Chancellor of Israel, but it was certainly a very high up politician, with security guards and everything. And Mr. Goldman pleaded with me, it didn't matter what I was going to be asked, because I was working on the head table, not to say that I'm from Germany. And I didn't give him the answer. I just acknowledged that he's requested that. And of course, I did work on the table. And the person was really nice. And he kept on saying, oh, so where are you? And I looked at him, and I said, German. And he said, I'll weigh about, and I say, Beaver, and he said, Well, that's funny. My family is from Vestas buff, which is five kilometres away from my village. So in and he was very nice. He was very, very chatty, and all that. And of course, Mr. Goldman comes running over and said hard TT asked away from us. Yes. What do you say, from Germany? I told you not a cities, but he's just from the neighbouring village is all good is fine. And then I had my older brother visit before he decided to migrate to Australia. And I went up to Mr. Goldman and said, I need some holidays, you know, can I get a week off? Or this one, go with my brother up to Sydney? And Mr. Goldman says, No, you can't have time off. I said, I need two weeks off. And he said, Ingo, I can't give you any time off. And I said, Look, I think the holiday is getting longer. I need four weeks. And he still said no. And I said, Look, I need to I need to leave you, I need to resign. And yeah, I left the restaurant, the hospitality part. And after this short break with my brother and his wife, I really pumped around, just made a bit of pocket money here and there. And part of these bumming around I caught a bumming around was I was still restoring cars and doing bits and pieces. But I found this place in paren. They were investigating or eliminating the most stunning car posters, like of luxury exotic cars, you know, get a Lamborghini and Taj or something like really special stuff. And oh, by name, they and I hate this, I hate this concept. I'm going to get a stack of them laminated. And then I go to car dealers who deal in these particular paths, and I'm going to sell them these posters with my markup. So I did this and the dealer actually sold the posters to most of them. He bought nearly all of them was maybe a five minute walk from the shop. I got them from but of course, he never got out of his dealership. He was always busy, busy, busy. And it was the first time and I learned about the tenseness of a dealership. Because while I was there on the floor, showing them all these be posters, laminated posters, the client walked in, and he really dismissed me, which, you know, I understood of course, but I thought, oh God, and he got extremely serious because there's a customer walking in and that was important to him. And then he returned back to me and bought all the all the posters. And at the time, I was also dabbling around in selling Jaguar accessories. So my brother in law back in Germany was the national sales manager of Jaguar palace in Germany. And I did you know, when I went across, he put me into all sorts of technical courses and so on for the fun of it and showing me around you know, head office in Frankfurt, but he said if you want to you can have all the accessories even the UK ones are made in Germany. Yeah, ashtrays, pains, watches, flags. I mean, even the flags for dealership. So yeah, that's a good idea. So I purchased a whole assortment of stuff. But very quickly learned India can't make any money. He's selling 20 ashtrays or, you know, 20 pens or something. That was an interesting learning curve, but I went back to this puram dealer with a restored mga 1959 beautifully restored car, which I bought in here in Melbourne enrol. And it was a band find. It was a car which was literally under a in a little shed. So a boat that restored it, and it looked fantastic and went into this dealership. The one I sold these posters to, and are shown Jerry Connelly and lovely guy. I've shown him the car and he ended up buying it off me, paid me pretty much the money I wanted. He was all happy. But part of the deal was he wanted some watches and he wanted some Jaguar pens and so on. So I gave him all that as well. Two weeks later, I get a call from me. He wants a refill for one of the Jaguar pens. The ink has run out. And I thought this guy must be joking. And then he said I and the car overheated. He had a thermostat issue and I simply look I'm I didn't need your warranty. I'm not sure why you ringing me. But anyway, I called in and brought him a refill $2 refill and sat down and he offered me a job as a car dealer, how can you be a car dealer? I mean, that's, that's worse than being in hospitality. You know, like, to me that was really, really bad car dealer. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a go. I need to just get off the street and bumbling and make make a proper leaving. So I started I had such a tough school there because he had a couple of consultants. And they were streets ahead on phone call managing how to manage prospects and so on. They were just old school bulldozed over me on every contact which came in until I had my teeth sharpens. And I started waking up and going hang on a check. If I want to be quick here. I need to be quick. I need to have the phone ready. I need to be on the ball. So I ended up working there for a few years. He brought in sutra which he actually took over from Duttons quite a famous outlet here, Jeff Darpan in Melbourne, David all exotic and wanted to get rid of Citroen and we were running Citroen very successfully. But to give you an idea in Australia, the Molnar family, which was a New Zealand family, important Citroen into Australia, they sold maybe 230 SITRANS. But I did it out of one store in Melbourne. But then of course, financial crisis hit interest rates started soaring. And my boss got in financial trouble. Literally every time we sold a car, that car needed to be used to pay down some of his finance payments. So when the end, we had no more stock receivers got called in or managed part of that receivership issue, which was another beautiful learning curve. And I remember they turned up with a truck to take everything. And I looked at the documents, and there came a day early. So say to the receiver, but think you've got something not quite right here. That date is tomorrow and not today. So we picked up again, left with the struck and let me tell you, I was very busy. Making sure that anyone we owed money to was getting some value out of the place on the petrol station there pumped out oil and whatever. I was making sure that in all the small creditors were looked after, and then I'll go look for a Scottish lady who took the class over that had no car experience. And I learned a lot that this luxury Connelly's prestige place. Gerry Connolly was a real trader. I mean, he was he was one of the best I've ever met in a gentleman.

Andy Follows:

So were you starting to feel comfortable in this, you mentioned your initial reaction to the invitation to become a car dealer or getting to a job in a car dealership was influenced by your perception that this is lower than hospitality? Why would I want to do this where you starting to feel actually quite at home in this world already after a little while?

Ingo Reisch:

Definitely. Because what what happened is in in the smaller luxury place, I was given a quite a free hand. So I could start buying cars other than Citroen, of course, which was new car franchise small scales. But I was good. I knew when there was a good car, and there was obviously, you know, retained margin and so on. And it all worked. Well. I mean, the place was going well until obviously, interest rates were choking. So you

Andy Follows:

were able to play to your sorry, you were able to play to your strengths there or you had some natural aptitude for this. I'm thinking you've come up through hospitality. So in terms of dealing with people being Front of House, whether it's in a restaurant or front of house in a dealership, not a term we use in the dealership, I don't think but you know exactly what I mean. You had that background, you'd also demonstrated already in the early years of your career this entrepreneurial For that you have you know, whether it's buying posters and then selling them down the road. So you, you are able to spot opportunities and make them happen. So I'm seeing this building up now and then you're in a role in the dealership. And finally, you're quite good at it using the skills that you've got. So yeah, let's take it from there. That's

Ingo Reisch:

the thing, Andy is that clearly I wasn't I wasn't fitting in with the new operator of the small prestige place. And I spoke to by my father and said to him, you know, I'm unhappy the place is, you know, and he said, Why don't I contact Abraham some call home? And I said, What do you mean? Sorry, they have family friends, they stayed during the war, they stayed on my grandparents property. And you know, I just I just get in contact with him. So he did

Andy Follows:

let's just sorry let's just for the sake of people who don't know who ever heard Vaughn Kuhn height is the significance of your father just saying why don't I call does that explain who he is?

Ingo Reisch:

EBO hard for him to know. In my eyes and I'm pretty sure that is correct. He's the one who might BMW what BMW is today. He virtually under the current ownership, he might BMW always today. And he worked for BMW, I think until 1991. I think that's sort of timing roughly when the BMW Australia Mulgrave office was was opened up,

Andy Follows:

okay. So as as a helpful person for your father to be able to reach out to he's he's pretty high up there.

Ingo Reisch:

He's very high in as I understood he, he took my dad's call. He then told my father, the HR manager of BMW ag will contact me and he did a Mr. Honda hider contacted me as Oh, my God, what's happening now and he said, I should please go to BMW Australia's head office, which then was still in St. Kilda, make myself known to Derek hurdle was the Australian HR manager, and they will find a job for me.

Unknown:

Let me take a moment to tell you about our sponsor. This episode is brought to you by ASKE Consulting who are experts in executive search, resourcing solutions and talent management across all sectors of the automotive industry in the UK and Europe. I've known them for almost 20 years and I can think of no more fitting sponsor for Career-view Mirror. They're the business we go to at Aquilae when we're looking for talent for our clients and for projects that we're working on. ASKE was founded by Andrew McMillan, whose own automotive career includes board level positions with car brands and leasing companies. All ASKE consultants have extensive client side experience, which means they bring valuable insight and perspective for both their employer and candidate customers. My earliest experience of working with Andrew was back in 2004, when he helped me hire regional managers for my leasing sales team at Alphabet. More recently, when Aquilae was helping a US client to establish a car subscription business, as consulting was alongside us, helping us to develop our people strategy, and to identify and bring onboard suitable talent. Clients we've referred to ASKE have had an equally positive experience. Andrew and the team at ASKE are genuinely interested in the long term outcomes for you and the people they place with you. They even offer the reassurance of a two year performance guarantee, which means they have skin in the game when working with you. If you're keen to secure the most talented and high potential people to accelerate your business and gain competitive advantage, do get in touch with them and let them know I sent you. You can email Andrew the team at Hello@askeconsulting.co.uk or check out their website for more details and more client feedback at www.askeconsulting.co.uk Ask is spelt A S K E. You'll find these contact details in the show notes for this episode. Okay, let's get back to our episode.

Ingo Reisch:

So I have this interview. And I remember vividly Derrick hell terrific guy. And he said to me, I'm really a bit shocked because we've gotten employment stop. We've been told not to employ anyone now we've been told to to find you a job. And I'll say look, I want to hear because I've been told to turn up. I gave him a little bit of my history, which wasn't obviously a lot. And he said some very valid points. He said look, if you get a job with us, it will take months before you because I had I had this idea that I could run dealerships saying you know, like not a problem. You know, I could run the dealership for you. I was extremely confident in hindsight. Oh my god, you know, how could I have been so confident? But and poor Derek would have thought, you know, this is just a joke What have you got here? But then he explained that to me so if you if you need to understand the culture, you need to understand BMW, you need to understand BMW, Australia, you know how it all works. And at the time, you know, Ron Meacham was running it, you know, a real character, horse Cole was running BMW Financial Services. So you know, these two were really charismatic and, and running it hands on. So anyway, he said, Look, we've just bought a dealership in Melbourne. Why don't you go in and see the dealer principal, a guy called Steven crush, and said, Yeah, sure. So I went in and met Steven, very nice guy. And he was literally just bombarding me with a few, I think, quite silly questions. What do you think that's worth? You know, what would you do in this situation? Pointing at another car? How much do you think that's the norm circle? How would I bloody know how much Six Series BMW is worth? And then he said, all that's an import hasn't got an Australian compliance plate I've got, what is this guy talking to me about? I've got no idea. But anyway, I sort of just gave him the answers as a as a soul fit. And he said, Yes, you can start on Monday. So he put me into the used car manager role. And whilst I had my moments with him, he was an unusual character. But I've learned a lot from him, he was very good in taking a position dominating the market, the thing I love, I love taking, you know, a large position in a product. So I can control the market, rather than have everyone around me having the same product. And everyone is just going, you know, in the downward spiral down in when it comes to margin retention.

Andy Follows:

I just want to say, I like that they put you into the dealership that makes so much sense that they thought, Okay, here's, you know, what are we going to do with this young guy. And that was the place where you are at least going to have your most experienced, it was still perhaps a leap into the BMW world, and you had all that to learn. But it was an environment that you're at least a little bit more familiar with. So sorry, back to then Stephen would take a position on something. And that was something.

Ingo Reisch:

Look here. Obviously, it also had carte blanche, he could go to BMW and rent shopping, so to speak, and bought fleet cars and so on, you know, which, which probably you couldn't get away with today. But he did and, and it was quite funny. And he's no longer with us. So I can say that. He actually went and stole Ron Meacham his desk. You went in to the head office where he used to work he was initially the use case manager there. And he literally while Ron Meachem was on leave on some launch somewhere overseas, he just picked up the desk and took it to the dealership and had it quickly repainted. So that Ron wouldn't wouldn't notice that it was actually his own desk. But it must have given Steve some sort of feeling of of importance, you know, to have patience. But I remember we launched the firstly ICT BMWs. You know, in the seven series, everyone at BMW thought he's, he's gone mad, but he actually had McDonald's burgers as the launch catering. And I thought it was fantastic, you know, to have this American thing, but we ate and so on. So he did things differently. He also did some things, which were nice. And I picked up on them, and always made sure litre that I never want to do that to my staff. Okay, so I have a couple of very ugly confrontations with him. Today, you'd call it bullying, and probably BMW would have been sued. But obviously then, that wasn't the case. I was working six days a week. I was working on on fairly low, low money and all that, but I had no idea. You know, I didn't have roster days or anything. I was just working six days a week. And that was it. And that's how horse corridor came into play. So horse call or when Ron Meacham left was the acting MD of BMW until the next MD from Germany was appointed, which was over heartland and I had horse for at least 24 months as effectively my my boss, so one level up from the dealer, principal, and horse was fantastic. He did all the things I hated. But he forced me to do them writing reports and be talking about detailed reports, how many prospects, how many cars, what's the age of your cars, and so on, and I had to give him that report each month. Like every other manager, of course, he didn't single me out. Initially, I hired an AMD

Andy Follows:

I love that sort of stuff. do now.

Ingo Reisch:

It's the key tool like valuing the car. I hated valuing cars. I love that even cars, but the information needs to be route. You need to know what you value. But it's part of this, you get the routine. And you get good at it and you get better at it and that part are actually meeting John. So horse was fantastic. And with one of these major confrontations, and I probably didn't manage it well myself, you know, I was not a hothead. But I probably should have to zip my mouth. And I didn't. And there were a couple of silly moans, you know, which just it just didn't make business sense to me. And for me, it was always about the business sense. The business comes first. And then a little bit of our own ego can be fed, but first the business. Yeah. So effectively, I picked up BMW offered me a car for 12 months. They said, can we locate you into Sydney, we have a dealership there as well, which they do have an asset now look, that's fine. I'm leaving. And they were very good about it. And a friend of mine was running in the Cetus. outlet in Melbourne called eatin star. And he was literally I mean, I've never seen something like it. But he was on his knees. He said can you please work for me? Now I didn't have a job. So I thought I might as well might as well we will get eaten star. And while I was at Eden star, my first day, I'm getting a call from a very well known business person here in Melbourne no longer with us as well. A guy called Easy hurt. So who also knew from the restaurant and easy said to me, what are you doing at Eaton star, come and see us now we've got a job for you. So I got literally dragged out of there or went into this boardroom and easiest place. I had Lindsay Fox who is well known Australian personality been keen and we'll buy them all grilling me if I could read balance sheets and what my abilities are. And again, it was a fairly lightweight interview. But they decided to give me a job for a dealership. They're just acquired a new location in Doncaster. And they gave me this General Sales Manager position. sounded good to me. And I thought fantastic. So we started with no customers, no staff, no furniture, no cars, and they assigned this wonderful person. And I've lost contact with him. I've looked him up and I cannot find him. A guy called Ellen White, who was the ex Saab, Australia nd a Swedish gentleman. And he was just one of the best things probably ever happened to me, because he was calm. He was above things he was had this sovereign sort of exposure about him was just fantastic. And he had actually some dealings then with the dealer principal for Melbourne. And the way he was handling him was so different to how I would have done it. But he always got what he wanted is Ellen White. So I learned hugely under L. And he was a really good mentor, very open, very creative, always shared all the numbers with all staff and a very small team 21 People at the start, but he called us in bit of hospitality. And he would go through monthly all the numbers and we have ridiculous growth. It was like an interim job for Elon. He always said he's there to set it up. They then engaged a lovely gentleman from South Africa. He had his own dealerships migrated to Australia, and a lovely guy called Kevin Bernardi. Very different to Elon, but very interesting, extremely careful with money, which I think was really important for my you know, the future growth of the dealership to understand that you need to be careful with your spent and he was idle with his spending like the he will turn the air conditioning off at six o'clock. Even if you had a customer still there on a 40 D degree day he would turn the air conditioning off and so on, he would go through the fuel lock and so on. But it was actually good. I liked all that. Then we had another dealer principal join that was a fairly short event. And I started spending a lot of time with Vin keen and Vin Keen was really the main driver of the Doncaster business. He had also a company called motors in Tasmania, which then the Doncaster business actually purchased it got delisted and put into Doncaster in a big company with 1000 employees and so on. So it was a fairly big turnover. Yeah, and I learned There's a lot between and to a point where we talked the other directors into, it's my turn to run the dealership.

Andy Follows:

So this is a perfect point then to jump in and say, when I was looking at their notes and your career journey, I thought, okay, there's this moment where you go from being with BMW Australia, to then being in the dealer world, I was going to ask you, was that significant for you at all to step away from the the OEM from the manufacturer or from the sales company, and go into the dealer in back into sort of more entrepreneurial environment in a dealership? Or did it not matter? Because you'd actually been in the factory owned store?

Ingo Reisch:

Look, maybe to give you this very simple answer. In the factory outlet, we had the seesaw volume, profit, volume, profit, but they don't always go hand in hand. In the let's call it private store Doncaster. It was all about return. Return on equity. How much have you got invested? What's the return? It wasn't about the volume. And the beauty was because we had such phenomenal growth of 20 odd percent. There was never a problem with volume. We actually had to scrape around everywhere in Australia and steal cars literally from other dealers who were snoozing. And that was also one of my specialities I loved that. Also use cars were very big in newscasts, the service department was great. And I think when BMW selected that point, which was very clever planning, because it actually resulted to be one of the best locations in Melbourne, if not in Australia, and the Asian market, huge, and they still having massive growth there, because the Doncaster area is a very heavily infiltrated Asian market. And they love BMW. They, I was all about growing the dealership. So I was constantly meeting with architects and we were trying to come up with new design plans. And I remember that being keen bought the site next door, which was a McDonald's outlet, he was very driven about expansion, very much like for me for when it wasn't about the actual income. It was about building a business, employing people having a successful business and creating long term wealth. It wasn't about, you know, writing a business going in, make a quick dollar. And running again, was all about sustainable long term growth. And anyway, he ended up buying McDonald's next door. And I had amazing place, a member one board meeting, I presented them to the directors, and they just dismiss thing. They literally just said, That's ridiculous. We're not here to build fancy buildings. We just want to have a business and make money. They then gave me a task to operate Fox Rolls Royce, which was the Melbourne Rolls Royce outlet. They also had Fox Rolls Royce and Sydney that I presented during a board meeting a plan and it wasn't universally accepted. Anyway, I've sort of rushed to my plan and then left. And as it happened, two hours late, I had been keen walked into my office in Doncaster. And he threw an envelope in front of me and Andy, I thought I probably got sick now, I guess, you know, I probably overdid it, I was fairly cheeky in that meeting. And you know, I told him exactly, I said, Look, my task is to give you an overview, this is what needs to be done. If you'd like to do that, right. I mean, end of the day, you own the business, happy to do what you want me to do. But these are the things I think need need to be done to get you into, like numbers. And many will not the envelope and it saved in the envelope that the directors have decided to part company sell the business and would like to offer to me, I have gone. Oh, this is a major thing, isn't it? I mean, that is just unbelievable. And obviously I spoke to Shawn about it. Because I said to him, Look, let me think about this. And you know, we came to the conclusion. I mean, the business I know is the business I'm running currently. So while that all happened, I had been keen offer to financially back. And he also introduced my financial controller. Marilyn Lyon was still good friends with her. It's also a shareholder, which I thought was a great idea. So when was the major shareholder, and then Maryland myself. Let's call it April, and we actually did this. We settled on the 13th of sep Timber 2000 Just when GST or Value Added Tax came in, into play in Australia, which I love, because you no longer have wholesale taxes, you have taxes on the actual price, you're selling something, which is from a business perspective in cars sensational. No one knew other than obviously, Vin keen and Marilyn. I remember walked in on the 13th and got all the staff together. And the look so got, they weren't sure what to say. He could tell. I mean, and, and I always had to get myself together. And I said, Look, we were going to move now. And I immediately went into upgrading the facilities, all the things I was always told no, no, no. Literally a couple of months later, I was pulling down the front facade and increasing space increasing, you know, what we call the roadway for BMW to display. And then of course, we had rover come up on the horizons or we refurbish the McDonald's building as a rover outlet, which then of course, fell over. And during this building phase at the Global Sales Manager, Michael GUNNARs, come in for a visit. And it was quite funny, because we were instructed not to come in casually on Saturday, we must re entice. And I was fighting that a bit and saying Come on. That's ridiculous. You know, Saturday, we'd like to be casual. We like to associate more with our clients on a Saturday. So casual, smart, casual is the better look. No, the instruction from head office was Michael Ganahl. Turns out you must wear ties. And of course, the mighty came in terrific guy. And I walked him around we had helmets on for the building site and a walk with him on my own on the front lot of the dealership and I said, Michael, you know that you're here in a bit of a puppet theatre today. And he said, What do you mean? I said, Look, I'm just letting you know that. Normally, on a Saturday, we try to blend in more with our clients. They are in casual. So we are smart casual, we would never be untied. But we've been instructed to wear ties. And he actually just shook his head and said, You know, I never see the real world in girl. It's always this puppet stuff happening. And I said, Look, I just thought it's a bit funny for you to know. And of course, the minute he left with the entourage, all the ties went into the drawing, and we continued with our business

Andy Follows:

are very honest of you and helpful for him. So what are some of the main things you learn on the journey from being in that position to where we are now about running dealerships?

Unknown:

To me, it was always that you need to have a unique position. There are lots of BMW dealers, there's lots of dealerships and for you to capture more clients and others. And that's the game. You need to have amazing service, you need to have amazing facilities, you need to have sensational staff. We also made sure that the environment was fitting, so we would invest in, in Apple PC, someone saying that Apple PCs are better than other PCs, but the apple look fitted better to BMW. So I'll just go on to Apple and say I want for every desk. But Apple PC, when the deal I got was unbelievable. I couldn't actually believe it. It was such a great deal. But it just gave the dealership this elevated feel. And because we constantly expanded and increased our footprint. We then went on marketing perspective. Obviously this was before online was really going gangbusters. I mean today, it's all online, which is a completely new field. But my trick was to have a magazine. So I produced with some amazing people, external and internal. We produced this fantastic evolution magazine, evolution about the continuing you know, we are evolving. And we will have lifestyle in there. We will obviously use it as a platform to introduce new product. I will talk about launches I've been to and actually bring in customers. I even had pre printed cards, but literally postcards which are posted for Munich during a launch, telling them I'm just that this launch for this new product. And I can't wait to show you this car. And I just literally walked in with a big bag full of postcards into the German post office and just posted and from there. But we were very big on when we launched the product in house. It was a spectacular function. It was something where customers would go wow, you know there would always be something that was special about it. We had Jessica Alba come as a performer. I mean, it was unheard of to have such a high level person performing the dealership. But you know, we always look outside the square how can we make this special? How can we get our customers to talk about the dealership and I offered customers our space come and bring your your business people here have a meeting. Coffee, hospitality is on me. No problem. So suddenly, our boardroom was filled with with clients, you know, real estate firms or accountants or dentists having a convention suddenly on our showroom floor with the dentist chairs and things. But we were selling cars from all the buildings were done as an owner builder. So I was heavily involved with the building. Every time we had a contractor, they needed to buy a car and they can't just bring us the concrete or the steel, or do a roof for $800,000 or shopfront$4 million. You need to buy a car. So we have an unbelievable business, it was just going fantastically. And then the financial crisis hit.

Andy Follows:

Right. That's a brilliant cliff hanger. There. We'll come to that in a second. I've got a question about people, because you've told me that you can't run a dealership without people. But and you've also mentioned in this conversation, some lessons you'd learned from people who treated you well, and some people who didn't treat you so well. So how were you treating the people growing this business, and then we'll go to the financial crisis and what happened there,

Ingo Reisch:

it was a big learning curve. Towards the end, I was managing people a little bit differently. You know, the old saying this 80% of great people in your company and one 20% of people who are not that fantastic, you know, who not engaged towards the end are impatient. So anyone who wasn't engaged, didn't stay, or found a way to make sure they can work somewhere else, and maybe find their destiny, instead of dragging their heels in our dealership. But really, until then, to me, it was important to not so much focus on the negatives, but build the positives. So when there was someone doing something really well, I would use it as an example and shoulder to everyone else. And I would actually further that person. And so you've done this amazingly. So when we sold a car, we would celebrate that. And I would have consultants and managers ring me and said, Oh, we just sold a night series, or we just sold a seven series or we sold a three series or whatever. And I would always take that call. And I would do my little rounds, because by then we had multiple outlets. We still had Tasmania at the time, we had Bandura, a new outlet, and so on. So my thing was like jiggling the plates, you know, going around and making sure that I talked to staff, the staff was treated like customers, they got barista coffee, they got beautiful amenities, they got a beautiful lunch room, that great change room, the fitted air conditioning into the workshop. They were things I didn't do for the customers. But end of the day, the customer benefited because I had happy staff for the last four years of operation or introduced a perpetual staff incentive scheme. So I decided if you make XYZ million dollars, why not share a percentage of that with all staff. But the hook was nd they needed to stay for two years before they get paid out. So it wasn't something they get automatically. So I also ensured that I actually retain staff. And I would get people back, no problem. If they're the right people. I'd take them back. If they're not the right people, I wouldn't take them back. But again, I was very aware. I cannot run a dealership of that size on my own. We had 235 People at the end. So it was a big job. I had fantastic cultures, which not just poached me. They were mainly from BMW, well selected. One I'm still seeing often for lunch gentleman called John Robinson. But that came in, they poached me but at the same time, coached my management team, they would go through and they would find you know, weak spots. And I love that because if I don't fix those weak spots, I won't have my business running at let's say nearly 100% I developed that why have a consultant hand over a car? Why have a consultant chase up the workshop to get the car ready. The consultant should be on the showroom floor ready to greet the next customer so I brought in delivery coordinators. I mean BMW was shocked by Aren't you? No, it's not part of the programme. You can't do that. But we did. We still had the consultant go in and thank them at the end, because it was part of the survey thing. I would get every Saturday lunch to staff because for me to have staff leave and get a $5 sandwich somewhere, could cost me 1000s of dollars on this business. So I decided to have like a, like, let's call it a picnic lunch, or get nice bread, small goods and bits and pieces and cheeses. And they just come and have their lunch when they have a break. Flexi time. If someone needed to go to the hairdresser, or doctor's appointment, do it. Then there was pressure about working outs, everyone was going five days, I was still sitting at six days. So then I introduced a system where no problem you can get five days so many XYZ cause Yeah, this is obviously in sales service, they still have their standard hours. If you saw me export their cars, you can get five dice. And any what happened is they still worked five and a half and six days. But they were working suddenly much smarter. They were taking calls on their day off, they were coming in just to greet a customer and do a test drive and then go home again, or do whatever they wanted to do. It was always support. I would go down and speak to a customer, why would No, no problem. And I think staff laughed that. Occasionally I lost my cool. I remember we we had just all the buildings finished and I walked around the sides of the workshop. And I was greeted by a sea of cigarette butts, like the whole ground was just cigarette butts. and afflicted. I got the service manager to get everyone out because it was all service staff. And I said well, who's the smoker? The ones who smoked and had the courage lift their hand, you stay back, your break now is collecting all the cigarette butts. We don't like this beaut create this beautiful place for you. And for you to why can't you just pick up your cigarette butt and put it into that little container? You know, it's just the hybrid part of the game. Do you know rain? That's that's where probably that bit of that bit of June comes through. But I think it's really important. I would go around the dealership every morning and pick up rubbish. I don't have a problem picking up rubbish. I don't like having rubbish on the ground for customers to see, or flicking a flickering globe, I go get a letter and replace the globe. Why not? The environment for clients and staff need to be as good as possible.

Andy Follows:

So in that short passage, you've given an awful lot of detail on how you went about running the business. And I'm sure that other successful some of the dealer principals and owners that I have come across will be totally aligned with what you're saying, taking such pride in the environment, recognising that you have to get the environment right, you have to get the people right. I think it's interesting that you came towards, you know, the last few years of this, you were getting quicker at moving people on who weren't right. And I liked the way you frame it that now they you know, let's help them find their destiny. Because it's clearly not here. And we don't want them disengaged here. I'd rather they were engaged doing something else. But understand that the people don't always they get stuck. They don't always have the courage or the intentionality to leave. So let's help them on their way with good spirit help them into something else. So it was going gangbusters. Their business was growing and then the financial crisis happened. So tell us about that the impact of that

Ingo Reisch:

BMW was amazing during the financial crisis, the Rock of Gibraltar, so to speak, we had an hour vividly remember Bell and cross talk to every dealer saying we won't have any issues. We won't have any liquidity problems, everything will continue on, you know, there might be an extra spread put on as an interest component. That's why I don't like the spread. But otherwise, everything continues. And I grabbed that and exactly transferred that to my staff. I got them all together. And I've told them, it's like a train hit a major Wall. But this train continues. If you all on board, you will have fantastic position here. We will go better than anyone else because of that. And I will actually employ more staff from other dealerships. dealerships who were telling me they were happily getting rid of people in cutting costs. And I always loved the concept of going against the trend. So I will build during the global financial crisis because I got fantastic value and it created activity. Whilst it was quiet. I would employ people have the right people during the financial crisis, because now suddenly I could get them. So for me, it was it was, you know, the the tough times, on my speciality, I love tough times, it's where I think the strong business people can make money to weak pounds, obviously, it will weaken them clearly. But to me, it's all about, you need to constantly grow, you need to constantly be motivated, you can't be can't be walking around saying the world has ended, we've got a global financial crisis. And I had not one person leave, not one person got told to leave, everyone stayed on Enter field and the dealership was sensational. And we had record sales might record profits, right through. Excellent. So that's the global financial crisis. And I think maybe important to squeezing. At the same time, I was getting heavily involved with the dealer Council, so the BMW dealer Council, so I was invited to become a council member. And then sort of by default, I ended up as the chairperson. And I think we as the group as the dealer Council achieved a lot, there was a lot of cooperation between BMW and us. And we were always looking at how we can elevate the brand more, more than it's already elevated, you know, we're always looking at the upside. And I think BMW enjoyed that too. So in to me, it was a logical thing, whilst obviously took time, but it was also my interest, like, it wasn't the interest of every other dealer, because if I can get a good deal for the network, then it's good for me too. So it times when you're at product launches, it can be a little bit disheartening, because you are in a meeting, discussing heavy stuff with BMW vollen, you or your other dealer colleagues, or having pre dinner drinks or something you know, like, but that's just how it is.

Andy Follows:

Yeah. So you had that responsibility, but brought your Spirit brought your approach brought your entrepreneurialism brought your support to the network and to your colleagues and to the BMW to make the best for everyone. Going forward.

Ingo Reisch:

My downfall was I was probably way too much into detail. Like looking back now reflecting back I should have just looked at the big fish rather than grilling BMW why some bean deflector wasn't part of the convertible package or something, you know, mean, that was? And BMW was also clever in milking that sort of stuff and consuming oodles of time on the small five star. But learning curves.

Andy Follows:

Yeah. Okay. And was it then plain sailing and a nice exit and now a happy new phase of life? or were there other speed bumps before you?

Ingo Reisch:

It was a it was a roller coaster, I have to say in selling the dealership was a major, major thing and it consumed so much time. And I was fully supported by my business partner in Keene. In the meantime, Marilyn Liang actually decided to leave the company on very good terms, of course, so we paid her out and I was in debt beyond the years again, but it was obviously a good move. And look, we've grown the business in many areas I brought in the alpino brand, which which was heavily supported by Ian, it's funny how things come around by Henrik Francona, who was actually the son of EBA, Hudson, Pune, who was our regional director. And he was he loves all Pinot and knows the Pinot guys really well. So he supported that heavily. And it was just starting to get momentum when the dealership was sold in 17. But it look I had, I was probably worn out a little bit, there were the occasional battles about I had different views might be to BMW, I'm not saying BMW was right or wrong, or mine, my views were right or wrong, but I had views to preserve the resale value of the product. And I dug my heels in on that a fair bit. And once they probably liked having me as a dealer, they always were probably also happy to see me go as a dealer because I was riding them a little bit. And I had obviously a fair bit of influence to the chairperson function and so on. Yeah, it looks they forgot, for example, our 20 year anniversary, they forgot it, you know, and to me that's unforgivable. You know, you don't forget that sort of stuff. Just little things like like, you know, just It just yeah, you can see there was, there was a trend. And maybe that's still there. They wanted to get private operators out and get corporate companies in. And I discussed that between Kim and I've said during, we should have a look might be sort of bad time to actually pass it on to someone else the dealership, maybe it can grow. And the funny thing is, we then sold the dealership, the oldest sports group, and it was a great transaction. And the oldest sports group was a very good buyer, you know, a very good, let's call call them client fast, because they bought a very expensive item from us. That came through with everything they they promised. So there were no ill feelings or so the only thing probably which I still have to come to grips with this, in that sounds may be silly now. But you've gone from a dealership to 130 people, you know, quite dominant in the BMW network. As far as even in into Germany, you know, I had lots of doors opened up in Germany for me, and people would listen and people will come and visit our dealership, we will often one of the little sample dealerships, anyone from Germany from BMW wanted to visit. But then you go from one day to the other on the 31st of March 17. I looked at my office after office, you know, you built it, they had the beehives next door, and so on, it was all beautiful. And I love that place. And I took my business cards, looked at them, threw them in the bin, and drove out in the car I just bought for myself. And I give you a funny story. I had an ice, the new owners didn't want to give me enough money. So I decided, you know, I'm going to be difficult, I'm going to keep it because I do like the night and a salad later, which our teams are considerably more money. But my wife didn't want to wake me up because it was my first day. I didn't have to wake up early and go to work six days a week for 20 odd years. So she decided to hop into the x five, her new x five, the first car we actually owned for many, many, many, many years. And she reversed out of the garage and of course didn't see my I ate. And here's the problem nd no more body shop. Before it wouldn't have been a problem. I would have just said guys do me a favour. Can you fix the nose on that cow. So, but now of course, I had normal body shop and I felt very naked. You know, I felt like oh my god. I've got no support staff. No, no body shop no different target me none alone cause something I mean, accidents happen. So that was my first lesson the very day after I've solved this a great story, though. You know, there's a few. There's a few. I'm saying it, I'm saying it. And I'm being a little bit over the top not but hurtful stuff, where BMW communicated to the new owners, they wanted me to stay on. And I actually liked the idea to make sure there's stability with the staff. And they were very complimentary. They said, Look, we couldn't think of anyone better than you running the dealership. And why would you can you stay on for a couple of years and I agreed to stay on for six months. And I said look, if I stay on for two years, I might as well keep the dealership, you know, what's the point and he's selling it to you and then working for you. So but for six months makes perfect sense. It was in communicated that I can't be in that position. And that was that was hurtful. But I get over it. I have gone over it now my life moves on. And I think overall I'm in a fantastic space now. In May, after I've sold, I decided to visit a bar Cancun home. And I actually wanted to shout him lunch and I had a box of Australian beautiful Australian chocolates and Australian tea. And I had books printed for all the key people about the dealership. You know what we've done over the years with the dealership, a beautiful leather bound book. I had a letter from Vin Kean, personally written by Vin for a box on coulomb and I wrote to his secretary and she said yeah, no, no problem bringing you coming over or go for a date. And we met in swabbing in Munich in one of his favourite restaurants. I was be obviously on time and I saw him come up with his seven series chauffeur card and he walked in and it's the second time I've met him, but this time obviously I had one on one. Last time I met him a BMW Melvin when he came in 9090 90 to open up the dealership. Now the At the head office in Margrave. So we I introduced myself and sat down and on the, you know, I gave them a bit of a bit of a story about but how I actually fit into his picture and why I've contacted him. And he very well remembered my my father, he actually communicated also with my mum after my father passed away, he was a very warm person, a BB, and then I confessed, I said, Look, I wanted to let you know of assault the dealership. And then the I was so surprised. I thought he would be a little bit dismissive then and then would say, Look, you know, why am I spending time with you? He actually said, that is fantastic news. That is great. So stop telling me about the dealership, tell me about yourself and your family is just, it was fascinating, meeting him. And whilst I had very little to do with him, and I've said that to him, that he was one of the probably most important people, making sure my train ride is going in the direction it went. And he probably never realised that when he told someone, you know, 20 odd years ago, 30 odd years ago, or you'll find this guy a job, you know, there's someone, a family friend or whatever, hounding me a little bit find this guy job.

Andy Follows:

Yes. There's these little moments throughout your story throughout all our stories, I guess, is the moment where something really critical happens. That's going to change the course of events, whether it's the opera singer having a sore throat, which I'm not going to forget, or are you getting that interview at Mulgrave? So you've arrived with $1,900. And you find yourself having lunch in shopping? With Eberhard von Koon, I'm having sold your business having significantly more than $1,900, I'm sure in the bank, you said that when you bought out your financial controller, you are backup to your eyes again in debt. What has been your attitude towards money during this period that's enabled you to take the risks you have and therefore end up where you have?

Ingo Reisch:

I think I need to maybe bring in two more people, which will help explain that a little bit. One is shown on my wife. And I'm a big believer, and I'm sure everyone is in a different situation. But I think what she probably doesn't say that by the right partner in your life. And this is business and life partner can change the drive of an individual. And I'm convinced that if I wouldn't have met Shawna, and if I wouldn't have met Ben Keene and probably many other people, I probably wouldn't have had that drive. And I haven't mentioned that before I migrated to Australia, I was starting a pastry apprenticeship in a six star restaurant near Frankfurt. And the lasted three days because I was staying, I was boarding with some some chefs and they had a completely different timetable to me. And it was all about a mosquito. Because the mosquito kept me awake. And I've asked the person looking after the facility if he can get me a mosquito net, and he couldn't care. So I drove off to a hardware store and decided to buy mosquito nets and I couldn't find them. So AMD just hopped in my car and drove home, home back to my parents, and they don't lose Australia happened. But what I'm saying is if I could have been still a pastry chef, somebody and I'm not saying I couldn't have been successful as a pastry chef, but somehow, and I think there is a bit of luck, but it is the people you meeting and I think Vin king he was like a father. He was the perfect partner. And his family were very embracing. And you know, I worked a fair bit in Adelaide as well, assisting the family, with their businesses. But he was fantastic. And it was such a transition. I noticed with him with age that initially he was a driver. And he passed over that function to me. And he was he was comfortable with that. He wasn't you know, unsure he was he was very comfortable. He would even come and say well, what would you do right now? Where initially he would give the tune he would say this is what we're doing here. This is what we're doing now. He was very big in expanding when you looked at a facility in go make it bigger. You know, double the size, not a little bit, double the size, put another floor under. You can't do it like that. baseman out again. We had a terrific relationship. And I think that relationship, and the one I've got, you know, at home, and seeing my, my two daughters grow up, seeing my siblings, you know, develop in their own way, seeing my brother passed away, which is a very confronting thing, and I'm still digesting it. And then having lost my mom, just three months ago, they're big things. They're much bigger than a business and all that, but they are the things which I think are changing our lives. And Alan Crookes is a life changer. When Keane said in the restaurant with Marilyn myself, and he mapped out the future of the dealership on a napkin. You know, this is old fashioned stuff. He had, we need $2 million of capital, you know, you pay X for that you pay that we get Alan Crookes to fund x y Zed via lease and he was just unbelievable. I would have never mentioned I would do all that stuff. I had a couple of stunts myself, which which I pulled out overhead. But I learned all that from people. And I think that's, that's the wonderful thing to me. And the message for everyone is, you never stop learning. And today's conversation is a learning curve. Thinking about this conversation is a learning curve. I've helped my business partner, Stefan Roche to bring in sonex car care to Australia. And I did that because I wanted to help him. I'm playing around with some Bentley's right now, I'm enjoying renovating our place in Wonga Park and creating a beautiful question facility for my wife Shauna, whilst I sometimes grind my teeth and think, surely, the horse doesn't need the massage, I would need the massage. But all that is, is enjoyable. And you know what I look at it and go, I'm so lucky because I can. This is the amazing thing. And then I look at people like an Elon Musk or a Bill Gates and people can think what they want about. But these individuals, these high achievers. They're creating something different. They're not doing it for the money. If Bill Gates doesn't care if he has another billion, they're doing it because they have a different purpose. And that purpose, I'm searching for a little bit because, you know, the pin is pulled for my BMW life. And I'm looking at the environmental part, and I'm looking at, you know, what else is there? How can I? How can I maybe help people and our goal and mentor, you know, I call it lightweight mentoring, here and there. And looking back at some of my young staff at Doncaster. Now having gone through the auto sports, public companies school. And I go, how wonderful is that? That the person I had as a sales manager is now the dealer principal. And I walk in, he sits now on my desk, and he's, he's doing things so well, you know, he's engaging, he comes out and says a lot to me and all that and they look after me, you know, they give me special treatment in the service department and so on. And I love that, or when I come in the receptionist gives me a hug and makes me especially coffee and all that sort of stuff. You know, and I love that and funnily enough, the main principle inpatient who owns you know, major shares in ISG. He said to me, they want to treat the outgoing owner, like a lifetime owner, you know, they should come in and they should feel comfortable and I need to say I feel comfortable in the dealership, I still go in or still promote the dealership to people and tell people they should go and buy there and so on because it's a great dealership. And they've had some amazing staff career paths. And I have to say is GE for public company are very clever in the way they picking people, putting them through a training programme. I think they're using the Lloyds it's amazing. I saw a service staff member. He's not a service venture. And Andy, I wouldn't have I wouldn't have picked it but the way he now presents himself. I just go. Amazing. How good is that? So I get great enjoyment seeing people develop. And also I'm acutely aware is a time where I need to move aside and make room for the next one. My mum loved my Outlook, that the world is always renewed. Let's call it 120 years Every person in this world has been replaced. And that's the wonderful thing. And currently, we've got this amazing opportunity to save the world. Because I think we humans might be consuming too much and too careless about many things. And I've just bought my first electric car, good friend of mine took me into it, and I bought a BMW, those clearly had to be a BMW, and I'm buying that apparently, and I'm enjoying it. But there's a lot more we need to do. Why can't people more solar power on our roofs, it makes sense. You know, like I at the dealership, seven years ago, I put a huge solar system on, the new owners didn't want it. And I said, we either buy the dealership with or without the solar system, but it comes with the dealership, you're not going to get it for free, they ended up buying it, they were saving 1000s of dollars a month in in energy costs, but they're also doing the right thing for the environment.

Andy Follows:

It's very good. It's lovely to hear you talk about it. It's such a big deal to have developed that business, all of the people. And I can just imagine, you know, going back in there and how important it is to still see those people and see them coming on and know that you've left them in good hands that are going to give them a different perspective. They're going to give them that corporate side that they're getting. So thank you so much for sharing your story with me today. I'm sorry, I have overrun a little bit. So thank you for being patient. I know even in doing that we have left so much on the table. We could easily go back and do okay, what are all the bits we've missed? So thank you for allowing me to skip over some I'm sure I've missed some golden nuggets, but the overall is wonderful. And I've really enjoyed getting to know you. On this October the second ever had fun Kuhn hands birthday, who would have thought someone so influential in your career, and making an appearance on this episode. So thanks very much. And I look forward to staying in touch with you.

Ingo Reisch:

And Andy, I'm seriously chuffed that you allowed me to talk a little bit about all this. So that's it's fantastic. And I did enjoy exactly what you've said right at the start.

Andy Follows:

You've been listening to Career-view Mirror with me, Andy Follows I really enjoyed getting to know Ingo through his story and I'm delighted to be able to share his experience and learnings with you. Parts of the story that stood out for me were his description of his early years with his environmentalist father that gave him an appreciation of nature and an interest in bees that would ultimately secure his initial entry visa for Australia. This decision at a relatively early age to emigrate from Germany to Australia, where he stayed for over 40 years. Whilst he didn't immediately work in automotive, he was gaining valuable customer facing experience in his roles in hospitality. We often talk about networking in our episodes, and in BMW terms being able to reach out to Eberhard von Koon Hime, like in goes farther did represents the higher echelons if not the pinnacle of having a network within the group. At that time of joining BMW, Australia, Ingo had some dealership experience and so it made absolute sense to then put him into the factory own store in Melbourne. The board meeting where his vision for expansion revealed the conflicting appetites of the existing directors. They agreed to part company and he was given an opportunity to become an owner. He expanded the business made bold decisions, executed the strategy paid attention to the details and navigated the ups and downs along the way to ultimately build a very successful business is now enjoying this next phase and looking to be purposeful in embracing environmental sustainability. I also like the circular aspect of the story, the fact that Ingo was speaking to me from his own equestrian property in Wonga Park whilst his grandparents had had an equestrian facility and sold horses so you could say their family's been in the mobility business for three generations at least. You'll finding those contact details in our show notes to this episode. If you enjoy listening to my guest stories, please could you do me a favour and share an episode with someone you lead parents or mentor or perhaps a friend of yours who you think would also enjoy listening? Thank you to Ingo for joining me for our conversation thank you to our sponsors for this episode, ask consulting and Aquilae and thank you to the Career-view Mirror team without whom we wouldn't be able to share I guess life and career stories. And above all, thank you to you for listening

Welcome
Education and school
Compulsory Military Service and emigrating to Australia
Arriving in Australia
First job in hospitality
Goldman's Restaurant
Leaving hospitality and becoming a car dealer
A call to Eberhard von Kuenheim
About our sponsor
Moving to Mercedes Benz
A call from Izzy Herzog
A surprise in an envelope
Learnings on running dealerships
Leading the people
The impact of the financial crisis
Selling the dealership
Lunch with Eberhard von Kuenheim
Acknowledgements
Finding purpose and taking care of the environment
Wrapping up and takeaways