Motor Mecca: STIHL Dealer of the Year 2020

Nathan Wessling tells JACKIE JOY how passion for his business and industry combined with the hard work along with investment into the business and facilities over the years by his family together with his team have contributed to Motor Mecca’s success

BUSINESS: Motor Mecca
PRINCIPALS: Nathan Wessling
LOCATION: Toowoomba, QLD
WEBSITE: www.motormecca.com.au

It’s a proud moment, not just for the principal owner of Motor Mecca, Nathan Wessling, but also his entire team. Winner of the prestigious ‘STIHL Dealer of the Year’ award for 2020, Motor Mecca has been leading the way as a one-stop-shop for outdoor power equipment in Toowoomba and as a STIHL Elite Dealership. “It is a goal that I had been chasing and it’s great to see that achievement and also to see our team excited for what we have achieved this year,” admits Wessling.

But not one to rest on laurels, Wessling goes on to add: “Whilst we acknowledge our achievements, we also must continue to be better and strive to achieve more. I hope that the passion that I show for this business and industry combined with the investment into the business and facilities over so many years that my family has made is a factor in Motor Mecca’s formula for success. But, you can’t do it all alone. We have a great leadership group and a great family of team members that will always do what you need, always do the right thing for the customer and always have your back.”

THE JOURNEY THIS FAR
The run-up to any achievement is never easy and for Wessling, who started working full-time at Motor Mecca in 1996, just fresh out of school, there were some big shoes to fill, in this case, his father’s. As a second generation entrepreneur, Wessling grew up with the business and enjoyed working with his father. “I spent a lot of my time in spare parts until taking full management in 2015 when my dad became ill,” he reminisces. 

In the years since then, Wessling purchased and fitted out new premises, about 3kms from their previous location, opposite a Bunnings store. “The fit-out was mostly completed by our staff during the drought. We moved into our new shop in February 2019, the drought was getting worse, but we fought our way into 2020. As we entered 2020, we had a change of weather and slowly but surely we started to go,” Wessling walks down memory lane for us. 

The risk of expanding in a drought proved to be a good vision. “We garnered a bigger footprint and it opened opportunity when we were approached by another local mower shop to buy them out. We completed that at the end of October 2020 and we moved the Downs Mower Centre business into our new facility. This gave us access to Toro which has proved to be a great investment as well,” admits Wessling. 

Looking back, what they have achieved in the last 5 years with the drought, renovating and moving premises, and buying and moving another business to theirs has been commendable. “We have continued to move forward even when we weren’t expected to. Motor Mecca has been blessed,” says Wessling who credits not just his team but also his wife, Sarah for the success. “While she doesn’t work in the business, she provides me the ability to do what I love to do and does a great job looking after our two girls and two boys,” Wessling says fondly.

Apart from Nathan, Motor Mecca has a staff of 15. “We currently have a combined 125 years, service to Motor Mecca in our current group of employees,” points out Wessling. The management team also consists of Warren Robson (Store Manager), Damian Francis (Parts Manager) and Shane Phillips (Service Manager).

THE CHALLENGES
Milestones in business, especially achievements, should be acknowledged but it’s important to look back at the challenges as well. As part of our dealer profile series in PEA, we always ask successful dealerships about the roadblocks in their journey and how they overcame them to make it insightful reading for our readers. “For me, the challenges were not so many initially than in the last 5 years especially taking supplier relationships that had been built over so many years and putting myself in a position to prove and earn the same respect that my Dad had previously. I think in most cases, I have proved that I have earned my place in this company. I have put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve the results that we have achieved in the last 5 years,” says Wessling.

When it comes to the most challenging aspect of his business, he admits it’s making sure there is enough stock, staff and cash when you need it. “It can be a challenge in a weather dependant industry,” he adds.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE BUSINESS
With regular lockdowns, restrictions and irregular supplies, COVID-19 has posed challenges and the year has been a challenging one for many. “For us, there was some positive impact. It was the perfect storm of drought breaking conditions combined with people staying at home and spending more of the money on their yards and around their home. While it was not the only reason for the positive impact, it did help keep it rolling along,” says Wessling. 

On the flip side, stock shortages hit hard. “But we worked with the suppliers to ensure we had enough products in the order pipeline. Making sure we have enough stock when needed was a new challenge that we haven’t had to deal with for a long time. We have tried to go into this season more prepared than the last one, but I think this year could be harder for stock than what we have already dealt with in the last 12 months,” admits Wessling.

CUSTOMERS AND COMMUNICATION
So what does it take to have a successful business, we ask Wessling? “We try and be a one-stop-shop. We like to have a large range of equipment on display, so we can give the customer the best product for their application. We have a great range of suppliers that entrust their brands to our facility and we try and do our best to provide the best service to all of our customers.” While there is never one way to win over customers, Wessling shares his tip: “Providing that 10 out of 10 experience every time.” 

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Businesses have seen a lot of irate customers these days due to COVID-19 and delays in supply, so how does the team at Motor Mecca deal with them? “Communication is key. It has been especially hard with COVID-19 causing supply issues for parts on workshop repairs. That combined with the better season made it hard to keep up with people and their requirements. It is sometimes hard to keep people on your side; suppliers have also struggled to keep on top of having correct dates for deliveries which makes it worse as delays happen. It is very hard when you don’t have all the information to provide the correct response,” says Wessling.

LOOKING AT THE FUTURE
When it comes to future of the OPE industry, Wessling says: “I think that battery will continue to make an impact on our product mix. I think the OPE dealer adds value to the consumer and to the supplier. Whilst it looks like it’s now a throwaway society, there are customers, businesses and suppliers that need our skills to provide the best customer experience for their customer.” When it comes to products, Wessling is all praise for STIHL’s iMow Robotic mower. “I think this will be one area of growth in the next few years,” he points out.

Post COVID-19, the way business is conducted and the manner in which customers shop is already changing. “While I think it is important to have an online presence, there is still a touch and feel component to a lot of our equipment that can’t be experienced by the click of a mouse. But there are aspects of our industry that can take advantage of the digital world. We are starting to see it now with some of the younger dealers using social media to their advantage and building their businesses brand and following in their community and beyond.”