German oil and additive specialist LIQUI MOLY has been operating in the US for decades now. Exactly 15 years ago, LIQUI MOLY USA was founded as one of its very first subsidiaries. Today, Sebastian Zelger is CEO of LIQUI MOLY USA and explains why the brand from Germany is so successful in the USA.
15 years of LIQUI MOLY USA – that doesn’t sound like a long tradition.
Sebastian Zelger: LIQUI MOLY USA has existed in its current form for 15 years. However, we have been on the market for much longer. Anyone who has known us for a long time may remember that we used to be called Lubro Moly here, because at that time the brand name Liqui Moly had already been taken in the USA. That’s why our brand had to be called something else in the beginning.
How has the market changed since then?
Sebastian Zelger: I have been CEO of LIQUI MOLY USA since 2016. With our oils and additives made in Germany, we concentrated on the European imports segment for a long time. For several years now, we have also been targeting domestic cars, for example with our Truck Series of special additives for pick-ups. In addition, we now operate in new areas such as motorcycle and marine applications with our own products and sales representatives. Today, the USA is by far the most important export market for LIQUI MOLY. In 2022, our sales grew by more than 30 percent. This makes us the second-largest market for LIQUI MOLY after Germany. This is a huge success story that we are writing here. We recently hired our 50th employee – a salesperson, like most on my team.
Today, everyone is talking about online business and digital sales channels. Isn’t it a bit old-fashioned to have so many sales reps on the road?
Sebastian Zelger: Quite the contrary. We do this because it is the best way to support our customers. We are not interested in the question of whether something is outmoded or trendy. We are only interested in what benefits our customers the most. All of us are under sustained fire from our smartphones, bombarding us with images and news every second. Information that might be important for our customers is easily lost. In a face-to-face meeting, the attention is much greater and we can also immediately show how many products work. No, manpower cannot be replaced by apps and smartphones. After all, we not only visit customers and attend large trade fairs, we are also at many motorsport events, grass root get-togethers and Cars & Coffee meets. All this pays off: Over the past six years, we have increased our turnover fivefold.
What then is the secret of this success?
Sebastian Zelger: The secret is that there is no secret at all. We have top-quality products, we support our customers locally, we invest in the brand, and we see North America as its own market, which in some areas functions differently than our domestic market of Germany, for example. Not rocket science, but hard work.
Where will LIQUI MOLY USA be in 15 years?
Sebastian Zelger: We will then be much bigger than we are today. In these 15 years, the vehicle fleet will change significantly toward electromobility. However, we remain the specialist for automotive chemicals, with products for combustion engines as well as for electric vehicles. We will grow because we are gaining market shares in existing segments and also conquering new segments. I look forward to the next 15 years with LIQUI MOLY!
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