Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In this installment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know Sebastian Zelger, CEO at LIQUI MOLY USA/Canada.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job was working for Porsche, in a very exciting department: It was called Porsche Cars Exclusive and Equipment. We received special requests from various customers all over the world, for example for air vents to be coated with leather, seat stitching in all types of colors, or OEM-style bumpers for the Porsche Cayenne (police cars in the Middle East). The part I really loved about this position (besides getting to know everything about my favorite car brand) was that we operated very independently within the Porsche corporation, almost like a separate company. But we were fully integrated in the Porsche AG. Therefore, I had amazing insights, from purchasing through production to sales, that you normally don’t get in a corporation that size.
What do you like best about your current position?
Coming from a bigger corporation, I definitely enjoy working in a medium-sized company, where you are not only a number but an essential part of the whole operation. Your “doings” not only matter but are very visible and transparent. You can’t hide behind the structures of a corporation. If you do well, it gets noticed. If you don’t, it will get noticed, too. The flexibility LIQUI MOLY gives every individual is great – the management puts a lot of trust in us to do what is right. We are not micromanaged, nor do I micromanage my team; we hire professionals who we expect to know what they are doing. Of course, training and guidance is essential and important, but the day-to-day business is managed professionally by our talented team. Personally, the most rewarding aspect of my job is that I can put all my creativity into the business, and it sometimes only takes a couple of days from having an idea to actually implementing it!
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
Up until my internship at LIQUI MOLY, I never really thought about entering the automotive aftermarket. Having been raised in Germany, a common dream of many of my student colleagues and myself was working for a big OEM such as Porsche, Mercedes or BMW. I was always a fan of cars, and it always sounded very appealing to me to work for such a big corporation. But soon I learned that such a structure also imposes limitations and more and more I enjoyed working in a more flexible environment, where your daily work actually matters and truly has an impact. LIQUI MOLY really brought out the entrepreneur in me! And I love it!
What do you do when not at work?
I love going to the UFC gym to keep myself fit and in shape and also to discharge the stress which can sometimes accumulate during the day. Doing these workouts really prevents you from burning out or from going to bed with a pile of bad emotions. I also enjoy camping: I bought a Toyota Tacoma last year with a rooftop tent and for me this is the best way, besides working out, of detaching myself from the fast pace of everyday operations. It is great to recharge your batteries out in nature.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Caring, curious and creative.
What kind of car do you drive?
My daily driver is a Toyota Tacoma with a rooftop tent, which I never take off because you never know when spontaneously you have to go for a weekend camping trip. 🙂
What are you currently reading?
“Give and Take” by Adam Grant.
Who is on your dream dinner party guest list?
Elon Musk, because he is such an inspiring person, and because he challenges us in the oil industry to seek new ways of doing business.