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The Colmobil Group – Moving Forward / By Tal Ben-Baruch

The Colmobil Group, founded 103 years ago and under the full ownership of the Harlap family, is Israel’s leading group for the import and marketing of private and commercial vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses manufactured by Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors and Hyundai Motors. We met with Sharon Waxelman, the group’s recruitment manager, for a talk about the new trade-in program and Colmobil’s activity in Eastern Europe.

What are Colmobil’s areas of business?

Our core activity is focused on importing three main labels: Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Hyundai. At Colmobil good service doesn’t end with a slogan, but thought and concern put into convenience and the quality of the services our customers receive. Therefore we’ve created a service apparatus that provides our customers the whole spectrum of services under a single roof: from vehicle insurance via the Colbituach insurance agency, which is owned by the group, to trade-in service via the subsidiary recently set up, Colmobil Trade-In.
The company has 800 employees around the country, with the group’s headquarters located at the Afek Industrial Park near Rosh Ha’ayin, including the administrative headquarters and the computerized logistics center, which also serves as a distribution center with its own truck fleet. The other sites are found around the country: in Ashdod is a sophisticated transfer site that receives cars from the port and prepares them for transfer. The group also operates eight showrooms around the country, located in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and five service centers (repair shops) located in Haifa, Carmiel, Petach Tikva, Jerusalem and Rishon Letzion. The group also has a site at Park Re’em to store vehicles cleared from customs until their delivery to the customer.
Our wide-ranging customers include private customers, commercial customers such as leasing companies, organizations, institutions and more.

What is the company’s vision?
The company’s goal is to be the leader and the yardstick for the transportation industry. We aim to achieve added value, a sense of belonging and pride for all of our customers, employees and business partners. The group’s management is striving for excellence across the range of activities. This fact is reflected in the group’s vision of “becoming the leader and the yardstick in the transportation industry,” and is articulated in the company’s reputation, financial strength and ongoing commercial success.
Our goal is to serve as a model for other organizations in every possible parameter – 360 degrees. I can say that we’re there in a whole lot of ways.


Sharon Waxelman, the group’s recruitment manager

360 degrees?
We’ve built a world of values that covers all of the main areas of business. Our values affect our work with customers, with supplies and of course with employees at the company. Take, for instance, our responsibility toward internal and external customers. Other values channel us toward service, professionalism and a high level of creativity. Values of no less importance are integrity, teamwork and a personal touch, which we strive to achieve in all fields, especially the work environment within the company. Together with our workers we’re assimilating the gamut of values and acting in accordance with them. This in essence, is “the Colmobil spirit.”
To be leaders in the vehicle industry takes a winning combination of human capital made up of the top people, work according to high standards in accordance with values we’ve set for ourselves and maintaining a competitive advantage by adapting the group’s operations with constantly changing market trends.

Through the media we’ve been hearing lately about numerous changes in the vehicle industry both domestically and worldwide. How is Colmobil preparing for these changes?
During the past year and a half we’ve done long-term thinking to prepare for anticipated changes in the vehicle industry in order to ensure maximal efficiency, quality and professionalism, and of course to maintain a position of leadership in the vehicle market.
This move is apparent in the setup of a unit for business development, which is expanding the company’s activity into Eastern Europe. And in recent months another subsidiary has been started, a trade-in unit, out of a desire to provide a full range of services to our customers and to become a leading player in the used car industry.

Today we have trade-in centers operating in Petach Tikva, Herzliya and Be’er Sheva, and we’re already planning our next moves and considering additional expansion.
Another direction is building advanced technological infrastructures that will be adapted to existing demands in the vehicle market in Israel and abroad, so that in April 2009, by introducing the SAP system, we will be upgrading company operations in a dramatic way, both internally and externally.
The use of SAP will synchronize between all of the internal bodies, will create full transparency, raising the professional level accordingly. This change will springboard us into the 21st century in terms of technology and will help us provide our customers better quality service.

Despite all of the planned changes, how are you affected by the economic situation?
The Colmobil Group enters the crisis as a strong and financially established company and as a vehicle importer with a substantial market segment.
We made preparations by drawing up working plans for the new year in order to cope with the slowdown in the vehicle industry as best we can, and at the same time we laid plans to take full advantage of opportunities arising under the current circumstances. We’re using the crisis as an opportunity to find new channels, to think in creative ways and to operate in unconventional ways.

What professional profiles are you looking for in recruiting employees to the company?
Our positions are really varied. On one hand general positions, and on the other hand positions closely related to the vehicle world. We have a lot of demand for sales and service personnel at every rank. In the field of vehicles we have job openings such as regional service managers, mechanics, vehicle diagnostics, department managers within the repair shops, drivers and more.
We’re looking to bring in players who give their all and strive to excel, in all types of positions.

How is the recruitment process carried out?
First a resume screening and phone interview process is carried out. Then, based on the characteristics of the job, the candidate goes on to an interview and/or an assessment center, which includes tests, simulations, etc. In the next stage the candidate undergoes an interview by the direct supervisor. For certain jobs we include as part of the screening process assessment at an external institute. The decision reached is a confluence of all of the parameters, based on a meeting between us and the managers.
The goal of the recruitment process is to shorten the processes and make them amenable, but at the same time not to compromise on the quality of the employee. The recruitment process is clear to the candidate from the initial phase and he knows what it involves.

How is the integration process conducted?
The integration process is very organized and structured. The candidates are given an orientation day during which they are exposed to activities throughout the Colmobil Group. The Human Resources Department meets with the candidate and informs him about the benefits that come with the job, etc. He also receives a booklet containing a range of up-to-date information on the company, its goals and his rights as a Colmobil employee. We’ve also built a methodical process in which after two weeks, one month and three months from the time of hiring we hold a private meeting with the employees and/or the new managers in order to gauge their level of satisfaction. The goal is to learn how they experienced the recruitment and integration process and to extract lessons where needed.

Do you encourage internal mobility?
We provide employees opportunities for promotion and personal and professional growth, based on a perspective that the workers are our strength. Mobility can be laterally or vertically. We have a number of divisions, each of which is a world in and of itself.
Every employee can apply for a given position, and when jobs become available we’re committed, as the recruitment staff, to locating internal candidates first.

Which positions are you currently hiring for?
We have ongoing recruitment for a broad range of jobs, but unlike in the past more thought is going into each and every position. We’re evaluating the situation, like everybody in the market, as 2009 gets underway.
At present we have a range of job openings, including high-level positions in departments like marketing, sales, finance (treasurer), managers for the sales departments, marketing manager for the Mitsubishi division and service consultants for the service centers. We’re also looking for candidates for operational jobs such as operations team leader, service coordinator and sales representatives.

What distinguishes Colmobil from other companies?
It’s a fun organization. There’s something about the atmosphere besides its warmth that really binds it. Recently, for the fourth consecutive year, we conducted a satisfaction survey among the employees and the results show we’re far above the Israeli average in the level of satisfaction. We’re well placed, and in general people are happy to be working here. The secret of Colmobil’s success is its human composition. We’re “unlike any other” from a professional standpoint as well. Another advantage that distinguishes us from the other companies is the uncompromising level of service and professionalism. In a recent survey conducted by The Marker, our service centers won third place among the top service providers in the country and first place in the vehicle industry, out of a respectable list of 20 different industries in the market that were assessed, including a range of the leading companies. This is definitely another source of pride and points to our uniqueness compared to other companies.

In conclusion, why is it worthwhile to join the company?
One of the things that really characterizes Colmobil is the strong desire and motivation to stay at the organization. Colmobil is a dynamic, innovative company that doesn’t compromise on quality. Our biggest investment is in our staff. We see our employees as an inseparable part of the group and its success, stressing their personal growth and benefits. As part of the benefits package the company provides is a dining hall service, a fitness room, transports, social and psychological services for employees and their family members and recently we added a significant benefit program by providing our employees private health insurance.
The atmosphere at Colmobil is warm and embracing. You’re very quickly made to feel a part of the family. The company has established traditions and employees with years of seniority along with dynamism and a stratum of younger workers. We find that a lot of the candidates who come to us are pleasantly surprised by the company compared to the impression they had of companies in the vehicle industry. In practice we’re a company with top-flight work arrangements and management norms. Many of the employees and managers came from leading companies in the market, such as communications companies, leading food companies and more, and the comparisons they draw between the companies they came from and Colmobil are very flattering to us. Of course as a company that strives for excellence we intend to continue improving and developing.

Candidates interested in joining the Colmobil family are invited to click on the group’s website.


For the Hebrew Article

 
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