– Founder of Petra Automotive Products!
I am so thrilled to debut my new feature in Dealer Marketing Magazine where I get the honor of introducing you to someone in our industry who deserves the spotlight! My first “person you should know” is Arnold Gacita Sr., Founder of Petra Automotive Products! I hope you enjoy reading about him as much as I enjoyed interviewing him. Keep your eyes out for this feature every month!
Arnold, thank you for being my inaugural guest! Tell us a bit about Petra and what you do in the industry?
I've been in the automotive industry for 31 years in aftermarket products. Anything that has to do with automotive chemicals or fluids inside or outside your vehicle, I’ve been a part of for over three decades. During the first portion of my career, I worked for a company that was the largest fluids provider worldwide. I left them to pursue the American dream of owning my own business and I’m happy to report this month will be our 13th year in business. We are the fastest growing chemical company in the US, manufacture products for five OEMs, and are in 38 countries. We have over 1000 people on the ground selling Petra, representing 336 products.
Your growth is astounding. What would you say Petra brings to the industry that helped fuel this success?
A lot of our competitors go into a dealership and talk about the product, the technical aspect of the product, and what that product is going do to the car. And we do that too, but we don't focus on that. We believe that we're partners with our dealers, so we focus on keeping them healthy and profitable.
We develop programs like a lifetime warranty. If a customer comes in and gets one of our services at any dealership, that customer is covered by a lifetime warranty. Customer retention, business development, partnership buying up, making the dealership more gross – these are the things we focus on for success.
You have an awesome non-profit called Petra Cares – tell us about it.
We’ve always been heavily involved with charities. We’ve worked with Giving Hope out of New Orleans for a very long time and built an orphanage together in Brazil. I wanted to open something similar to Giving Hope in Houston. I put together a phenomenal board with some top players in Houston and started talking to chambers of commerce, judges, people in our local politics etc. We found a need here in Houston that nobody was addressing. There’s a program in the US that pays for foster children who attend University, if they qualify. Ninety percent of the kids who exit the foster care system don’t apply. They want out because they've been part of the system for so long.
Ninety percent will not accept the money. Of that group, 80% of them are either dead, in jail, or homeless in three years and the average lifespan is 23 years. These kids need to be told they have purpose, there’s something better for them and they can do it.
So through Petra Cares, we’re going to go get those 80%, we're going to bring them to Petra through a partnership with Lone Star College. We're going to take 60 students a year and bring them through a six week course to be a level one mechanic, with one week of life skills as well.
And after seven weeks, when they graduate, we have dealerships nationwide who have agreed to hire them. They will leave the Petra program hired by one of our dealerships. Now they have a purpose. Now they have an education. Now they have a job.
So not only do we change their life, but all the generations to come after them.
You obviously have a very kind heart and are driven by helping and creating community. What is your why?
My why is to see people become better than myself.
What have you seen as a major industry trend that's coming out over the next year or two?
I think most people are re-thinking trading in their car for another car. Because of the economic situation, the uncertainty, the interest rate going up, they're keeping their cars longer. The average car ownership stat of 12 years is going to slightly tick up. What does that mean for service departments? Service and Fixed Ops are going to have to be strong to carry 80% to 100% absorption at that dealership.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know?
I love to cook, and when I say cook, I mean I love to cook good! Like snapper with white wine garlic sauce and crab meat on top of it. I love to barbecue. I have a barbecue team that used to go into competition and we have never lost on our baby back ribs.
Want to reach out to Arnold and his team for more information? Visit www.petraautoproducts.com or https://petra-cares.org/
Laurie Halter is the Founder of Charisma! Communications, a successful automotive PR firm, and host of the Carearing podcast where she explores work/life balance issues for leading females. She has a passion for business and entrepreneurship, but what really gets her jumping out of bed in the morning is sharing her experience balancing life, work, and motherhood.
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