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No problem yet with Japan parts supply says HWP boss

The disaster that devastated Japan this month has not had any significant impact on one of Bermuda's top auto dealers which does business with a number of the country's vehicle manufacturers.

HWP Group president Jonathan Brewin said that despite the earthquake and tsunami having a big effect on infrastructure in the country such as power and transportation, his company was in daily contact with Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Daihatsu, Nissan and Subaru and received regular updates from them, many of whom have ceased production due to power shortages and parts availability as most of their suppliers are based in the region that was directly hit.

In an exclusive interview with

The Royal Gazette, Mr Brewin and his team of Deborah Burgess, warranty administrator, and Lenny Henderson, technical trainer in the after sales division, also talked about the importance of keeping your vehicle properly maintained to get the most out of it and product recalls.

“Some of the car shipments from Japan may be hindered but we have not had substantive information to verify that,” he said.

“There are no suggestions that the parts availability will be compromised either.

“The Japanese have been proved to be a resolute and single-minded people in the way that they are getting through this disaster and they have been working hard to maintain supply routes and at this juncture we do not envisage any delays.”

Mr Brewin said that product recalls were are part of the auto industry, but his team was committed to keeping its customers updated and calling in vehicles when replacement of parts and adjustments needed to be made.

He said it was equally key on the client's part to maintain their relationship with their dealer in order to get the problem fixed at no cost to them as a result of the manufacturer's support, with the option to get their vehicle serviced or any necessary body work carried out at the same time.

“It is just the nature of the beast that cars unfortunately don't perform the right way the whole time,” he said.

“So it is vital to maintain a relationship with your dealer because they can keep them informed of these issues and follow through on any work that needs doing.”

For example, HWP has to date called in 50 Daihatsu Ferozas to change the fuel check valve, a model that the company stopped selling more than 10 years ago, 13 of which have been completed so far, highlighting the after-sales service provided by the dealership, he said.

“To me it suggests that the manufacturers are very committed to keep the vehicles that are on the road up to scratch,” he said.

Mr Brewin admitted that sometimes it was hard to track the vehicle down if it had been sold or written off, if they were unable to make contact with the owner, or even if they had made the appointment but failed to show up, however, in most cases they were successful in completing the work.

He said that authorised dealers had the advantage over independent garages with the level of information about the vehicles they had access to and because of their relationship with the manufacturer were able to report any issues to them which could be tracked back to the production line and the necessary changes would be made.

Mr Henderson said he had identified a connector in a Hyundai H-1 that hadn't been properly fitted in the factory stage and referred it back to the manufacturer, who was able to identify the worker that had installed the part and reported back saying that as a result they would be trained how to do so.

On another occassion, he said Daihatsu honoured a good will agreement to fix a steering issue with some of its vehicles that were out of warranty because of its well-established relationship with HWP and due to the dealer being able to provide full service histories on them.

Mr Henderson said that preventative maintenance was more important that ever before during these tough economic times with regular check-ups and servicing more cost effective in the long-term that get problems fixed as they arise.

He said that dealerships had the benefit of the best expertise and knowledge and HWP itself had launched a a number of initiatives to educate the customer about making the most from their vehicle including a 30-point check workshop which highlights areas that are not so expensive to maintain on a regular basis which if left could mount up such as full wheel alignment checks.

Mr Brewin said that HWP was offering a number of promotions to its customers including a ‘Spring Into Summer' health check for its VIP 60+ members as well as a programme for teachers during the holidays and deals for its Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) members.

HWP closed several parts of its business last year including home appliance centre HomeZone due to the economic downturn and had consolidated some of its operations such as its cycle division into the main building as a result of overall falling sales and market volatility, he said.

“My team has been absolutely fantastic in working with the management and shareholders to try and weather the storm better,” he said.

“In terms of growth, we are forecasting a flat line in the new financial year.”

Mr Brewin revealed that most of his staff were working reduced hours but the company was fully committed to getting them back full-time as soon as possible and had had positive discussions with the BIU in the interests of keeping workers employed.

Motor vehicle sales fell by 19.2 percent during January as a result of a decrease in motorcyles and cars sold according to the latest figures released by Government, while the total market sales were down by more than 300 last year at 1,490 from 1,817 in 2009 and 2,631 in 1999, reflecting a downward trend since 2005.

Mr Brewin said the industry was in “replacement mode”, with approximately 40 percent of the vehicles on the road today being seven years or older and drivers only changing out their old models as and when they needed to, while the number of first-time owners had depreciated with the considerable number of people who have left the island over the past year.

But he hoped to see some more positive signs in the next few months, starting with Premier Paula Cox's decision to reverse the previous year's payroll tax increase in the 2011 Budget Statement.

Over the coming months, he said that HWP would be launching a number of new models including a diesel Volkswagen in the summer and offering an extension to its Smart Choice programme - a comprehensive vehicle maintenance and repair package.

For more information contact HWP at 295-5000 or visit the website at www.hwp.bm

Car care: Pictured (from left) are HWP's Lenny Henderson, technical trainer in the after sales division, Deborah Burgess, warranty administrator, and president Jonathan Brewin

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Published March 24, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 24, 2011 at 9:57 am)

No problem yet with Japan parts supply says HWP boss

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