The name says it: Qualitat European
Qualitat European Motors in Penrose Auckland has a new owner –but he’s no stranger to the team, or the customers.
Vagn Dyson has spent all his working life at Qualitat. According to longtime colleague Holly Hartley he’s grown from “a pranking ratbag” teenage apprentice to a more serious, supportive manager, and owner.
Vagn and his wife Kylie took full ownership of Qualitat European a couple of months ago after buying a half-share in the business several years ago. Kylie also works in the business as a parts delivery driver. Former owners Wayne and Josie Fenton have now retired after owning Qualitat since 1972.
What they do
Qualitat European supplies genuine and aftermarket mechanical parts for VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat cars to customers in Auckland and across the country. “We take orders from Kaitaia to Bluff, and hold a stock of around 50,000 parts on site,” says Vagn. With over 9,000 customers in the Qualitat European database, the half -dozen parts staff are kept busy.
“Most people place an order by phone, although we do have a great website as well. This is the side of the business I want to build up over the next 10 years or so. VW and Audi have a good foothold in New Zealand, and I expect to see the Skoda and Seat market grow, in line with what’s happening in the European markets.”
Every two years, Vagn makes a trip to the big aftermarket trade expo Automechanika in Frankfurt to make sure he stays up to date with developments and suppliers. “Our biggest suppliers are the German companies Febi Bilstein and Hans Pries.”
Vagan says: “We buy all our parts from Europe to guarantee the quality. Our reputation, like our name, is all based on quality and if that means paying a premium, we’re happy to do that.”
The Penrose workshop is well known in Auckland for its work on European cars, specialising in VW and Audi. One mechanic, Mark Bodell, is dedicated to looking after classic VW cars and vans.
“The days of students owning a Beetle are long gone. Ten years ago, people would be happy with just a patch up to keep the vehicle running but now, these cars are owned by enthusiasts and collectors who are prepared to put a lot of money into their performance and bodywork.”
The six other auto technicians work mainly on the more modern cars. “Lots of our customers have been with us for years,” says Vagn. “The thing about VW owners is they often stay with the brand for a lifetime and update them every few years. Some will own a classic as well as a newer VW.”
It’s all in the service
Vagn and his team put a lot of energy into providing a high-quality service. This includes making sure all customer cars are given a wash and tidy up by the company’s full- time groomer before the keys are returned. “We also provide late- model courtesy cars. Customers who’ve been taking their cars to a dealership for maintenance and updates expect that level of service when their cars come out of warranty,” says Vagn.
He says while Qualitat is in competition with the dealerships, they also work together. “Some software codes related to repair can only be accessed by dealers through a dedicated online system with Germany. It’s a security thing, and an annoyance, but it’s a step we have to take to finish some jobs.”
Vagn is anticipating lots more changes in electronic technology over the coming decades as cars evolve. He’s not expecting to be flooded with electric cars any time soon, but notes that they too will need repairs and updates.
In the meantime, it’s business in usual, done in the style of the previous owners, Wayne and Josie Fenton. Vagn says: “We have not changed the work culture. We treat people how we’d like to be treated, and the business always puts quality first – in service and the products we sell.”