If you had asked entrepreneur Dan Buckley a decade ago where he thought his career was heading, it perhaps wasn't in the direction of the motor industry.
Buckley started the clothing company Huffer as a university project in the mid '90s. Taking on investors as the business grew in 2013 he ultimately sold his stake in this business, but continued to work within the clothing sector for a few more years.
He is now sinking his teeth into a totally new field by taking on the CEO role at the hyper-successful fast growth car retailer 2 Cheap Cars, which has seen phenomenal growth within eight short years.
With 17 dealerships countrywide and around 1,000 vehicles being sold each month, it's no small feat to oversee this thriving business.
Asked what is driving the move Buckley says it’s a passion for navigating uncharted territory and bringing a fresh new perspective and thinking into a new organisation. "I love the mechanics of business and enjoy the challenge of stepping into a new industry with a fresh perspective that will hopefully yield results," he told Newshub.
After hearing Buckley’s excitement over the direction of 2 Cheap Cars, discussing the future of "EVs" (electric vehicles) and his plans to make sure their customer base begins to catch access to previously out-of-reach options, his leadership skills become clear.
"I think while we remain very focused on our existing business with petrol driven vehicles, alternative fuels, like electric and hybrid could go really well for 2 Cheap Cars.”
"There is a groundswell of support for vehicles that aren’t petrol driven," he enthuses. "Our hybrid sales while still relatively small have doubled year on year for the last three years. We predict these will likely top more than 400 sales for 2019’s calendar year. Given the right approach, hopefully we will see the same uptake with electric cars when they are introduced in early 2020."
Having Buckley step into the CEO appointment is an exciting move for 2 Cheap Cars who were fined more than $400,000 by the Commerce Commission in July.
The company was found to have misled customers over promotional discounts and their warranty rights after purchase.
Buckley thinks 2 Cheap Cars is moving ahead ensuring everything they do has the best interests of their customer in mind first and foremost. "We’re learning from our mistakes and moving ahead with these lessons intact to ensure the very best outcome for all."
A first order of business for Buckley is having a cohesive team within the 2 Cheap Cars organisation. "Everybody is working toward the common goal of providing the very best service for the New Zealand car buyer."
"We have a great team at 2 Cheap Cars, with nearly 100 staff across management, purchasing, servicing, dispatch, sales and marketing. Everyone is really engaged and we want to double down on this, and provide as much opportunity as possible for our growing team."
Buckley will tap into leadership skills honed from more than 20 years of business management within the clothing industry, which he says as far as basic business mechanics go, isn't as different from cars as you might think.
"There are a lot of parallels" he observes. "When it comes to basics, it's about getting an internationally purchased product to market as effectively as possible, while servicing your market with the utmost integrity."
"The model we are working with at 2 Cheap Cars is simpler than what I did with the Huffer business. We don’t design and build the product we only purchase, allowing for a shorter more easily managed cash cycle - and a more focused business with ultimately a lot more scope for scale."