Client Story: Riverland Collision Centre

Client Story: Riverland Collision Centre

It’s not every day that an employee takes over a business and continues to build on its success, but that’s just what happened with Ben Schwartzkopff and Riverland Collision Centre.

Riverland Collision Centre (RCC) was once part of the Rosenthal Family Motor Group, which has been a client of Oreon’s Chris Gebhardt for over 20 years.  Ben – who began as an employee with the company’s crash repair arm – purchased the business in 2017 with former principal Jim Rosenthal.

RCC has since experienced steady growth, providing high-quality repair services for new, old and vintage vehicles. During that time, the auto industry has undergone massive change with the introduction of driver assist technology and new materials. Ben and his team have been able to adapt whilst delivering a high-quality service, which has strengthened his relationships in the industry.

Challenges along the way

“Being in business has many challenges, most of which just go hand in hand with simply being in business,” says Ben. “Most business owners talk about the challenges of staffing, volume, costs, cash flow, etc., but for me personally, a key challenge has been dealing with uncertainty and building credibility, which takes consistency and time.”

Fortunately for RCC, the company was classed as an ‘essential service’ during COVID, so the doors stayed open and the team continued to repair vehicles.

Keys to success

Ben feels there have been three main keys to his business success: Setting and achieving goals, having the right support, and careful organisation.

“Each year I set goals on what I want to achieve on a personal level and a business level,” Ben explains. “I make these goals visible on a vision board, keep the vision board saved on my phone and computer and use that as motivation.”

“The support from my family and those within my business has been critical,” he says. “Having good people who wanted to come on the journey has definitely helped me get to this point. “

He believes that good organisation is vital for any successful business, because it helps everything run more smoothly and efficiently.

“I’m a firm believer in ‘Kaizen’, a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement in working practices,” he explains.

When asked about advice for other business owners, Ben says, “Be consistent. Each day, move forward or tick that box and just be productive. Some days will be better than others, but don’t let the bad days outweigh the good and don’t forget to occasionally enjoy the perks of being the boss.”

Oreon’s role in the business journey

The Oreon Partners team has assisted the business in numerous areas, including succession planning in the beginning (when Ben took over the company), the acquisition of the workshop the business operates from, and support and coaching surrounding the accounting work and business performance.

“Transitioning a business from owner to employee is not an easy task and can create a lot of uncertainty from within and surrounding the business,” explains Oreon Manager Matt Hosking.  “With continued support, we’ve been able to build on the solid foundation laid by the Rosenthal family and encourage Ben to use his strengths in growing and making the business his own.  It’s rewarding when a client lets us join them on their journey, and it’s not an experience we take for granted.”

“The team at Oreon Partners has been with me from the beginning,” Ben says. “From the day I started talking about becoming the business owner, Oreon was there to offer advice and support and to help make the acquisition easy so that the outcome for everyone was positive.”

Ben says what he appreciates most about the team at Oreon Partners is their attention to detail and personal service.

“They take the time to get to know me, my family and my business,” he explains. “The service they provide is tailor-made to suit my needs. Being 300km from Oreon’s office presents no problems at all, because with phone calls, emails and regular visits, the distance is never an issue.”

Future of the business

Ultimately, Ben hopes to add a second location/workshop to concentrate on custom and restoration projects.

“Restoration work in the past 36 months has skyrocketed, due to a demand for older Australian-built cars that are selling for good money, so there is an opportunity to capitalise there,” he explains.

Ben also expects more technological advances and continued business growth in the years to come.

“In the future, vehicles will be repaired differently,” says Ben. “We’ll be seeing vehicles made from different materials such as plastic, aluminium, carbon, and ultra-high strength steels. Technology is changing, with most vehicles fitted with high tech safety and driver assist systems as standard. I look forward to growing the business and investing in tooling, equipment, and staff training to repair the new era of vehicles.”

To learn more about Ben and his company, visit the Riverland Collision Centre website.