In top gear
If there is one business sector that has drastically changed after India’s economic liberalization of the 90s, it is the automotive industry. Gone are the days when cars were a luxury for a privileged few and add to it the limited options that were available back then. Today, we have moved to an age when almost every middle class person owns a car. Moreover, the automobile market is flush with a range of brands and models that one can choose from. So when the automobile sector has witnessed such phenomenal growth, how can the ancillary service of providing spares and repairs be left far behind? In the bustling Panjim city, if you want a car accessory or a spare part or need your vehicle to be repaired, there is one destination that almost everyone will direct you to, Jimron’s.
Located strategically, right in the heart of the city on the bustling Borkar road, Jimron’s was established by Antony X Fernandes, who has seen 67 summers in his life and has been working ever since the tender age of 14. A man of few words he sits in his chair facing the entrance of the store in such a way that not only can he oversee the, he also constantly has his eyes on the flow of customers and ears paying attention to their needs. Though lately Anthony’s sons, Jimmy and Ronny manage the day today working of the store, he holds a steadfast commitment to work even today, working even on Sundays. “Mechanics work on Sundays too and I have to oversee their activities,” he explains quite simply. His eyes crinkle with amusement when I express my wish to know his story, one that is peppered with interruptions because his first priority is still his work. “As an auto-electrician, I used to work with Vernekars in the auto winding area. In 1969, I decided to go solo. Initially we started as an automobile repair store,” he recalls. Antony was so good in the electrical field that his old employers, offered to take him around the world in a ship, but he, of course, refused due to his burning desire to set up his own venture. And though finance wasn’t all that easy to come by back then, Anthony invested all his savings and borrowed from family members to accumulate about Rs 4 lakhs. Using this capital, he established Jimrons naming it after sons, Jimmy and Ronny.
Today Jimron’s is in a league of its own and nothing short of a landmark. The store offers car spare parts and accessories. Apart from a sister concern Auto Paradise (which interestingly is right opposite the parent shop), and a workshop, they also have a branch in Margao. Antony, the patriarch oversees the entire business while eldest son Jimmy looks after the accessories side and workshops. Younger son Ronny Fernandes looks after the car spare parts and the workshops. The store provides employment to about 38 people. Availability of reliable manpower, Antony laments, is a grave problem. “These days no one in Goa wants to get their hands dirty with working in automobile workshops. Hence, most of our staff are non-Goans,” he says. On positive side, Jimron’s has great goodwill and brand value today built over all these years and at least in Panjim, they do not have much competition. Ronny says, “In the spare parts line, we face no competition, maybe a little on the accessory side. The economic downside hasn’t affected us much. Even when prices increase, people don’t stop driving their cars. Hence, we do not suffer a problem.” The USP of Jimron’s is that it caters to every whim and fancy of auto lovers. You will get everything related to auto here, down to the smallest spare part which you may not find anywhere else. The secret of this goodwill is Antony’s dictums that trust and reliability is the key to success to any business. ‘Respect the customer’ is their guiding principle, says Ronny. What about future plans? With some hesitation, and reluctance, Ronny admits that they definitely have plans to expand further. They have had dealerships with lots of companies, like Roots, PMP, Delco Remy, Denso, Autolek, Neolite, Depo lights and others. They have dealerships with more than 15 companies. “This is my life. I don’t know any other way” Antony concludes talking proudly of the enterprise he has built right from scratch.