Google was invented in a garage, and so was Apple. Helveticar would have liked to start in a garage but had to make do with a garden shed. Today, the company has four locations and one big ambition: to inspire trust.
August 2018, in the middle of Belgrade: Thomas and Joshua have been invited to a wedding and are sitting outside the Airbnb when a message arrives from a friend. He has an old Toyota RAV4 for sale and asks if they know of a buyer.
Thomas and Joshua have an immediate sense of what could come next. “We bought the car,” says Thomas. With Thomas' childhood friend, Gabriel, and Joshua's brother, Niccholas, the four young men do up the Toyota, advertise it and sell it the next day.
“It was clear at that point that there was no stopping us,” says Joshua. The journey begins in Joshua's parents' garden: there are up to nine cars parked there, the office work is done in the garden shed and all contracts are signed on the garden table.
"Living our own values"
“We sometimes worked 18 hours a day,” says Thomas. "We bought cars in Ticino, in Romandy, in Bern, all over Switzerland in fact, did them up and immediately resold them." Always with one goal in mind: to move forward with independence and autonomy. And above all: "to live our own values," says Joshua.
What does that mean? “We want satisfied customers who trust us. We don't want to rip people off. It sounds romantic, but unfortunately you can't take it for granted in this industry. We'd had enough of sales games, we just wanted to put our heart and soul into the cars and sell them on for a good price,” says Joshua.
He met Thomas where they both used to work – that's when they became friends and fellow sufferers. "We're not even going to tell you some of the things we experienced in that company!" Joshua and Thomas now have their own fledgling company and are imbuing it with their own values.
Helveticar Location #1
It all started like this...
Meeting on an equal footing
For example, not ever selling a customer something that isn't right. But without the customer being king, either. “We meet on an equal footing. You're not a king's equal, you may not even be honest with a king, but simply try to please him,” emphasises Joshua.
After selling the Toyota RAV4 on 14th August, 2018, the company grows for three months in Joshua's parents' garden before indoor premises have to be found for the winter. "We gave it our all every day, and were completely committed and totally motivated," says Thomas. "Friends said we must be mad! But it was amazing how many people believed in us. And opportunities opened up for which we are very grateful."
The move to the current showroom on Buchgrindelstrasse takes place in November 2018. “It was a risky time. We put all of our money straight back into buying more cars,” remembers Thomas. “We felt that Helveticar was going to be big. We had set ourselves frighteningly high goals – and still exceeded them."
Grateful for the growth
The company grows and soon the men can no longer do the work alone. They take on employees. “It took courage to suddenly delegate and let go,” admits Joshua. "We are grateful to have always found such great employees."
Not only do people join the company, but new locations are also established: Helveticar vehicles are now also sold in Pfäffikon ZH, and a new hall and workshop are added in Wetzikon.
“Of course we want to keep on growing. But we want everything to remain manageable. We don't like the idea that one day we might come to work and not know who everyone is,” says Thomas.
They currently have eleven employees and space for 120 vehicles. They made 600 sales in the first two and a half years. But that's only the beginning of the story...
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