Q: You became the CEO of SIXT New Kopel Group in January 2017 after being CFO and the deputy CEO. How different was your activity in the first part of the year comparing to your expectations? Why?
Tal Lahav: My previous experience as CFO and deputy CEO helped me significantly to have a better understanding and assimilate the challenge of being a CEO. As CFO and deputy CEO, I was fully involved in the strategy and implementation of all key projects of the company, which helped me familiarize with the complexity of the business and its actual needs. Personally, I am a hands on manager and my team knows that my door is always open for all kind of needs and situations, for every employee. I am part of the team as a coach and, first of all, part of the “Always Yes” mission. That means there is always a “YES” in all impossible that we make possible and “a good will” and “a smile” in all daily activities.
Q: SIXT New Kopel Group is covering from operational leasing to rent-a-car, sales of new and pre-owned cars, and maintenance and repairing cars. What was the best field for SIXT New Kopel Group, and why, in 2017? What are your expectations for 2018?
Tal Lahav: We are the first operational leasing company in Romania and one of the top rent a car and operational leasing companies on the local automotive market. SIXT New Kopel Group Group is unique in its “One-Stop Shop System” and its “Always Yes” concept. Our Group is taking a market leader position in its activities, as a direct result of concentrating on providing top quality services, flexibility, tailor made solutions, and partnership to our clients and stakeholders.
Through the „One-Stop Shop System”, we offer all the services under the same umbrella: operational leasing (www.sixtleasing.ro), rent a car (www.sixt.ro), SH cars (www.sixtsh.ro), new cars (authorized dealer Opel – www.opel-unionmotors.ro) and workshop service – one of the largest in Romania (authorized Dacia, Renault, Opel, and multi-brand – www.union-motors.ro). And, a main differentiator is that our people are driven and inspired by the Always Yes Energy concept. We are motivated, young, and creative, which really makes a difference in a competitive market. We always see the client as a partner and aim to tailor innovative and flexible solutions to our clients’ needs. All of our activities are developing and achieving good results in 2017 and we aim for 2018 to continue “driving in the same speed” and to keep being a market leader in our activities.
Q: How did companies like yours use the the historical low-level interest rate environment in your business activity and how do you plan to keep your clients satisfied when this financial environment will change?
Tal Lahav: Low interest environment indeed translates into cheaper financing that was turn into lower prices for clients. Should the financial environment change in future years, we will need to find innovative operational solutions and efficiencies in order to be able to maintain the best price for value for our clients.
Q: Not only once you stated that the main strength of the Romanian economy is the human capital. Arguably, in 2017 we witnessed a work force crisis. How you were able to retain your employees and what are the criteria for selecting new employees?
Tal Lahav: I believe that the arguable work force crisis comes to support my statement. The most important asset of a company is the team, the employees. Our team is young, smart, motivated and driven by the Always Yes attitude. Most of our young managers have been part of our team for years. Our people act and feel in the Always Yes spirit, as they were formed as professionals in this spirit. They consider this company a family and, more than that, they feel empowered by the fact that their contribution to this company really matters.
At an internal level, we are developing a lot of projects under 3 key platforms: #AlwaysYesEnergy, #AlwaysYesToRomania and #AlwaysYesToEducation.
All are described in words and images on our site, www.newkopel.ro, but I would like to offer some details about the premises of the last one. For our group it is not only about the results in the business.
Values such as giving back to the community and education matter and really create a difference.
Recently, SIXT New Kopel Group involved all its employees in a volunteering program called #AlwaysYesToEducation. The objective is to help children in need through long term programs for contributing to a sustainable children education.
More details here: http://www.newkopel.ro/ro/alwaysyeseducation .
Q: What’s your biggest fear for 2018, having in mind that Romania is experiencing again a major economic growth?
Tal Lahav: I would call them challenges, ideas, and answers. We are constantly looking to be more creative, innovative, to create a difference and to keep the clients happier. And I assure you that we are always looking for the best way to mix all these questions into a single answer that leads our business to solutions and to success: Always Yes!
Q: What industries are you interested in, especially in terms of development in order to boost your own business and what signals do you perceive from those industries?
Tal Lahav: We are providing our services to all market segments and do not have over reliance on any specific market industry. We do emphasize significant efforts on SMEs and Startups, offering them similar advantages which only the big companies have access to and provide partnership which includes, among others, tailor made solutions, top quality services, flexibility and the Always Yes philosophy. We receive highly positive signs from these companies and expecting that, as these companies outsource their cars and other non-core activities, they will continue their growth that in turn helps further develop the overall real economy.
Q: The previous growth model was based on liquidity (from private financial institutions) and leverage. In your sector, could you detail a different growth model, now?
Tal Lahav: The growth model did not change significantly from the past and is still reliant on leverage. At the same time, the leverage ratio has changed and companies are required to increase their own funds/ equity components and to reinvest profits into the business.
Q: What’s your view on employment, trade and investment in your field of activity for 2018?
Tal Lahav: Our fields of activity are seeing tremendous growth in Romania. This is due to various reasons, among these are mainly overall economic growth and better understanding and knowledge of the products and their benefits. We expect this growth in employment, trade, and investment to continue in 2018 too.
Q: Five years after the previous financial crisis, can you state a lost lesson and a learnt one, regarding the financial crisis?
Tal Lahav: Indeed we are several years following the global financial crisis. A lesson learnt is not to over leverage the retail segment when acquiring real estate. A lesson not learnt is that continuous long term monetary policy of low interest rate may also be dangerous to economies.