Interview with Normunds Aspers, Commercial director
Company / Brand: Recro
Industry: automatic transmission remanufacturing
Number of employees: ~45
Interview with Normunds Aspers, Commercial Director at RECRO
Q: How long have you been with RECRO for? How did you join the team?
I am with a Recro since September 2013. It seems, this month I have 7 years’ anniversary. We have been good friends with Recro owner Raimonds for a long time and I had been helping him with all kind commercial matters for many years. After the idea of developing the automatic transmission remanufacturing facility in Cesis was born, I had an invitation to join the Recro company.
Q: What are the major sides of RECRO business? What is the top division of the company?
80% of our net sales comes from full transmission remanufacturing. The rest is parts and component sales. 90% form all transmissions we reman today are for passenger cars however, we see continuous increase of industrial and commercial transport transmission share and this demand will keep growing, I am sure.
Q: How long has the company been on the market?
Recro was established in 2008 but our key persons are in business since 90s.
Q: What advice would you give to those who are currently trying to enter this business field? Where to start? What should be avoided?
Well, this is not a quick business (in many aspects) and you should be ready for long journey.
Q: What is your major instrument in driving your business forward?
It is hard to say what is the major instrument. We have many, and all of them are important. In terms of marketing, the Google tools today bring many opportunities and help to understand the market better.
Q: You have around 10 language versions of your website. Is this really beneficial to have so many language versions? In addition, do you have sales managers speaking all of these languages?
Not 10, just 8. Well we are not unique in this respect. It is for sure much easier to approach local market in local language. Yes, we have sales managers covering nearly all languages we have at our web site. I do not mean that it is one person who speaks all these languages. We have local representatives in our main export countries.
Q: You probably had some obstacles during your company’s growth. What was the biggest one or maybe you still have some?
We face daily obstacles, just as any kind of business does. In our industry, great challenge is lack of technical information that often you gain only from your own experience. OEM’s are trying to keep the data in secret as much as possible.
Q: What is your target market now?
Basically, all EU countries are in our target range.
Q: Does membership of Latvia in the EU give you many benefits in business?
The answer is very straight. We would not be able to work in the EU without being an EU member state.
Q: Do you have branches or offices outside Latvia? If not, why? If yes, what objectives do they cover?
No, we don’t. We have only sales representatives so far. However, we have some plans to open service centers outside Latvia too.
Q: You have a Hydra-Test machine in your business. Do you use it daily in your operations?
Yes, we have one and we use it on daily basis.
Q: If you had an easy opportunity to relocate the company, where would you like to be and why?
In the same place where we are now.
Q: Where do most of your sales come from: direct inquiry, referrals, ads, expos, etc.?
All you have named. Hard to pin out most important.
Q: Did COVID-19 seriously impact you?
In terms of volume, we had about 30% volume drop during spring and we expect some slowdown in winter too.
Q: What do you think of the electrification trend happing now in the automotive industry? How soon will electric cars take over the market? Aren't you afraid that this trend will put you out of work?
I think electrification will develop very rapidly and the speed will depend from political decisions. The question is whether electric cars will replace combustion engines completely in all segments. Probably not so quickly, however in cities, electric cars will dominate for sure.
Q: Some of the final questions coupled together: what are the tendencies on the market and what is the industry still lacking? Should we have some innovations?
It seems there are more than 2 questions. I can only say from our own experience: our industry is not much organized and not much protected. There are no relevant statistics concerning remanufacturing industry in Europe. The list of lacking things would be very long. From our statistics, we see transmissions with less mileage than it was before with older models and such trend includes all types: classic automatic transmissions, DSG, and CVT’s. More and more, we have to deal with the vehicle electronics, hardware and software systems – inside as well as outside the gearbox. You may ask: do we need more innovations for industry? Innovations cannot be too many. I think our industry is missing some preconditions for more innovations. I haven’t seen many innovations in our industry in recent years.