Today we sit down for a virtual coffee and custard cream with Rob Earle, MD of Gtechniq, the masters of car care. We wanted to find out a bit more about what drives him (pun intended) and what the future might hold for ceramic coatings and looking after your car generally.
Rob, many of our clients will be familiar with the brand but tell us a bit about the history of Gtechniq
Gtechniq was founded in 2001 from a complete dissatisfaction with the performance of car care products of that time and the knowledge that by harnessing advances in chemical nanonengineering we could deliver products that outperformed these by a considerable margin. Gtechniq have worked hard to remain at the forefront of the sector and our product range spans products available to the retail consumer through to coatings which can only be applied by professionals.
What does a typical day look like for the boss at Gtechniq?
Boss man is happiest when working with the R&D team developing new product. We currently have around 10 updates of the car care line in the pipeline and have recently released a full marine care line. He's also working with our business development and marketing teams modelling new business processes for key partners in over 50 countries, including car franchises, wholesalers and out accredited detailer network.
What brought you into the car care sector?
I caught the detailing bug about 25 years ago doing endless research on and buying detailing products from all over the world.
What are the benefits of applying Gtechniq products to your vehicle?
By nature I am an ambitious but lazy man and as a result Gtechniq has and will always be about products that offer benefits that last longer and require less maintenance. Benefits such as rain repellence on windscreens, restoring faded trim, protecting high gloss finishes, preventing dye transfer on leather seats or brake dust adhering to rims and instead of durability measured in months, most of Gtechniq's product durability is measured in years. I believe that this enables motoring enthusiasts to spend more time enjoying driving their cars and less time making them look their best after using them as intended.
Your detailing studio is extremely impressive – what went into its design?
We worked with key players in the detailing industry and lighting engineers to get its specification as close to perfect as possible. It came together very well and has acted as a blueprint for many detailing studios around the world.
How much testing typically goes into a new product before its launch?
Typically we start with lab tests measuring all kinds of factors such as chemical resistance, wash swirl resistance and UV resistance. Only once we have established a significant performance gain in the lab do we then start field trials. Field trials are conducted all over the world including arctic and desert conditions and if we are seeing a significant improvement at the end of this process we then move into production. This process typically takes a year to complete.
Tell us a bit about your multiple distribution strategy; Gtechniq can be bought by retail consumers, you have products which can only be used by professional detailers and you have a range sold through car dealers
I have never made any bones about our ambition to touch as many consumers as possible with better surface care product. Our network of approximately 2,000 Accredited Detailers world-wide enabled us to develop a product that needed a high skill set to apply. Our professional grade coating has to be applied using correct technique and in the right conditions as it can only be removed using aggressive methods if not applied properly. With our car dealer offering, we analysed the conditions and skill level and developed a product line that suited this environment and the same holds true for the consumer. In all areas we obsessed on delivering products that out-performed the incumbent products which our laboratory and real world tests have validated.
How has Covid affected your business and how do you see it evolving in the coming months?
We are counting our blessings. Despite dealership business coming to a full halt for a couple of months, our on-line sales have more than compensated. We are operating at 100% and looking to hire more staff. We are in a position similar to Lockton in this regard – we have worked hard to adapt to challenging conditions, maintain consumer confidence and keep our people safe.
Where do you see the industry heading? With PPF becoming more widely used, do you think ceramic coatings will continue to evolve?
As already mentioned, we are working on about 10 different updates right now and we are putting increasing resources into R&D so I fully expect we will continue to update our product lines in the years to come. PPF has become increasingly mainstream. However we do not see it as competition. PPF is inherently quite porous and therefore stains much more readily than paint which is why we have developed a PPF coating called HALO that makes PPF much easier to maintain.
What do you do when you're not running Gtechniq?
Getting my backside kicked by my 12 year old son on mountain bike trails or hauling my daughter's pony so she can go hacking with a pal.
What's your daily driver?
Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio (yes it's as good as they say!)
Favourite car and why?
Currently and probably forever - Gordon Murray Automotive T.50. Yes it may not be quite the prettiest from the rear quarter but the dedication and focus that has gone into it just makes everything else look flat footed. Also have a massive soft spot for the Porsche Carrera GT. I could never tire of that V10 howl.
Favourite car event and why?
Goodwood Festival of Speed. There cannot be any motoring event on the planet that can hold a candle to the variety of cars and motoring legends that are on display at this event.
Rob, you're clearly a very busy man so extra thanks for taking the time out to answer our questions. It's great to learn a bit more about Gtechniq and hear about some of your plans for the future. Thanks also to Gtechniq for their generosity and support with both our recent and current competitions, the most recent of which you can enter here to win one Gtechniq's winter car care kits.