From family-owned business to international enterprise.
Bristol has turned out its fair share of global brands over the years. From major operator Rolls Royce, to family-run business Bart Spices and, of course, Academy Award-winning Aardman Animations. So maybe the odds were favourable from the start for one motor parts wholesaler which, in 1965, set out with the sole aim of providing exactly what the trade wanted.
This is the story of how a Bristol automotive business achieved dominance in the UK and, today, is set for global success.
The Automotive Power Equipment Company saw steady growth in those early days, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s – under the new ownership of Roger and Jenny Maggs (who recognised the value in becoming ‘the specialists’ in brake parts only) – that the company would build a reputation that would bring more accelerated growth.
The company changed its name to Apec Braking, and the couple’s ethos of building business relationships with their own personal approach of ‘deals being done with a handshake’, quickly brought success.
By 1999, Roger and Jenny were beginning to consider their longer term plans. Whilst the company had built a good reputation for itself, it had done little in the way of marketing and was therefore still relatively unknown in the wider automotive industry.
When they approached us to help build their profile, their aim was to create a strong brand, to make them more visible, and to allow them to exit the business within the next 5-6 years.
2005 saw a successful takeover for the husband and wife team, who sold the company to Lookers Plc – a highly reputable automotive organisation wanting to extend their aftermarket division. They retained the Sales Director as General Manager who, together with the new owners, had a different commercial ambition for the business.
By this time, we had developed a trusted business relationship with Apec, and the new manager asked us to continue to work with him as we set about rebranding the business. The long term goal: to establish the company as a market leader in brake parts; but also with a vision and strategy to expand into other motor parts as the company grew. This was a new era for Apec – the start of significant investment in the brand and the start of a period of substantial growth.
Our work began in 2005 with an overview of the current brand image and establishing a new brand manifesto and key messages that all future marketing would follow. From this messaging we created two brand straplines that would inform everything we did, keeping Apec’s identity consistent, well-positioned and confident, all things that would enhance their reputation and increase visibility.
The subsequent marketing collateral that was created and the activity that followed over the next 15 years established Apec not only as a dominant player in the automotive aftermarket, but as a widely respected and trusted brand in the industry.
By 2020 Apec was acquired by American owners (as part of a handsome 9-figure deal) with a view to expanding internationally.
And so began a new chapter for the Apec brand …