When the company’s president, Gian Franco Scarabel, founded his company in 1973, it was a very different time. The Italian automotive industry was slowly getting over the crisis of 1972, and he worked as a manager for the Italian importer for Audi and NSU.
The merger of Audi, NSU and VW was the opportunity which eventually led to the establishment of Scarabel. “I proposed to the parent company to become an authorized dealer for those brands,” Mr. Scarabel recalls. “In order to deliver high-quality work, I tried from the very beginning to connect the product and the needs of the factory with strategic foresight and careful analysis of the region in which I operated. I also built up a network, one which didn’t just involve the factory and the clients, but also my competitors. In the provinces of Padua and Belluno is a forum for the industry where we exchange information.”
His methods proved to be the right ones. Nowadays the Scarabel group also includes the car dealer Euganea Motori Srl in Padua and Alemagna Motori Srl in Belluno. In addition, it is a shareholder of the service partner Autotechnik Srl.
It seems like Mr. Scarabel was predestined to start a company like this. “It was a little bit irony of fate,” he says. “When I studied business and commerce at the university in Venice, which is one of the best in Italy, my thesis was titled ‘Sales of cars in Italy’. It was about economic policy. It is like I intuitively foresaw my future work. The knowledge I acquired I inserted in the firm, implemented systems in order to use the synergies of the companies belonging to the group.”
His son Dott. Roberto Scarabel studied business and economics at the same university and is now working for the company as CEO. “My grandchildren are still in school, but they will hopefully join the business, too,” Mr. Scarabel reveals.
He expects the same level of competence from his 125 employees. “We have a very qualified and well-trained sales staff,” he points out. “The team is young. Many have a university degree.”
But despite how well the company is organized, it faces the same challenges as everyone else currently does. Scarabel grew after a crisis. Now it has to survive another one. “Let us be honest. For the automotive industry this is the worst crises since 1972,” Mr. Scarabel admits. “We are lucky that we are in the northeast of Italy. It is one of the best organized and economically strongest regions in the country. On the other hand, a lot of companies have already relocated their productions. Consequently, we get fewer requests for cars from this direction.”
With this in mind, he expected that the 120 Million EUR turnover of 2012 would decline in 2013 by 8 to 10% due to the crisis. “To compensate this, we trust in our after-sales segment,” he explains. “There we are very strong, as well as in the segment spare parts.”
The portfolio of the company is extensive. It offers new as well as used cars, rentals and corporate fleets. The newest addition to the service, implemented following a suggestion of VW-Leasing, is the so-called Hotel del Pneumatico, where customers can store their tires for winter and summer.
“We are very strong in retail and long-term rentals,” says Mr. Scarabel. “In 2013 we were named ‘Dealer Champion’ for Audi.” Even though the company sells more VW cars than Audi vehicles and is one of the most important players in the market for both brands, its success with the latter is in a way the more impressive.
“We are among the top ten sellers for Audi in Italy,” Mr. Scarabel points out. “This is even more remarkable considering that the other top sellers are located in major cities like Milan, Rome and Florence. To be in the top ten as car dealer from Padua and Belluno, you have to be very good.”
The company was able to secure an impeccable image a long time ago. Now it also relies on the advantages of social media and e-commerce.
“Customers can see a model, pick the colour, check if the car is ready and so on,” Mr. Scarabel says. “Thanks to the Internet, we have many requests from all over Italy, even from Sardinia, since most dealers are much smaller and do not have all models. Most of them sell between 150 and 200 cars a year. We manage 1,000 in our branches in Padua alone. Furthermore, it is possible to find replacement parts, which we deliver and the customer receives at a car dealership near him.”
Mr. Scarabel now intends to expand his concessions with the ultimate goal to unite the two provinces of Belluno and Padua, especially concerning the Audi brand. They already rode the first steps in this direction with Autotechnik Srl.
“During the 40 years I have been in the business, I have gotten many offers from other brands,” Mr. Scarabel explains. “But when I started my company, I married, so to speak, the Volkswagen group, and I intend to stay faithful. I prefer to open a fourth company for the same brands I sell now because this is where my expertise and know-how lie, and it is the source of my success.” At the Volkswagen meeting in Florence, Mr. Scarabel was named as a testament to 40 years of Golf and 40 years of Scarabel SpA.