It may sound odd, making a 300-mile round trip to play a game of pool, but this is not a simple trip to a bar or snooker club. Instead, I’m playing at ELTA Automotive, and learning about the business at the same time.
To be honest, it’s more about that than the pool, although the idea is a clever one. A chance to network with company bosses and other members of the press. I haven’t played in years, so when I’m drawn first, it adds pressure. But you’re not reading about the match, so I’ll move to that later.
ELTA Automotive Ltd, originally named ELTA Lighting, is an independent, family-owned business, which was formed in 1993 by Chairman, Martin Bates. It consisted of just five people, one of which is Ian Hallam, who began by working ‘on the shop floor’ but has risen to become the company’s managing director.
You may know ELTA for its association with Lucas. In 1994, the company became supplier to the brand’s aftermarket network, and remained the chosen bulb suppler when Lucas and the Varity Corporation merged in 1996. But the company was also winning new supply agreements with Hyundai, Unipart and Hella.
2004 became a particularly notable year as TRW agreed to an exclusive, UK and Eire licence arrangement with the company, for the Lucas Electrical brand, that included among other products, bulbs, engine management components, switchgear, warning and safety products and mirrors. Initially, ELTA sub-licensed engine management components, but the programme was bought in-house in 2009.
Due to the fact that much of the company’s growth had subsequently come with products beyond its original lighting specialism, ELTA Lighting became ELTA Automotive in 2013.
Yet, while supplying other brands is a noble cause, having your own brands is a way of highlighting your commitment to the industry and driving business growth. Therefore, ELTA is marking its 25thanniversary by launching two new product lines for vision and electrical items. Both will form the ELTA PRO range.
The VISIONPRO and VXPRO offering is one of premium quality and positioned at a price point more reflective of the current market conditions, but which also meets their need for a broad range of products under a single, consistent brand image and sourced from a single supplier with a pedigree able to underpin its future growth.
VISIONPRO will include ranges in bulbs, mirrors, warning and safety lighting and wiper blade, while VXPRO features lines in engine management, fuelling components, vehicle management, ignition components and window lift regulators.
Managing Director Ian Hallam told the assembled press: “As the market has evolved and the influence of the big buying groups increased, independent factors and their workshop customers need to have access to a premium quality brand they can call their own.
“With VISIONPRO and VXPRO they have the answer to their vision and vehicle electrics requirements, powerfully packaged and with the behind-the-scenes support they need to address the changing business landscape.
“With the growing influence of electrics and electronics in current and future vehicle design, related products will become an increasingly important area for replacement components within the aftermarket. ELTA has considerable experience in the field and has extremely refined testing and quality control procedures to ensure its products perform at the highest level, under the most arduous conditions, which is why we can confidently state they will compete at the premium end of the market.
You can see the products first hand at Automechanika Birmingham on June 5-7 at the National Exhibition Centre.
I will alleviate your suspense, I did not win. After a valiant effort, or sorts, I lost my first-round match to Dan Cross, Editor of PMM Online.
The Final came down to James Onions of Garage Wire and Jon Hickley of Workshop Magazine. The match swung in favour of both players, before a small mistake from James when the black was the only ball on table opened the way for Jon, who didn’t spurn the opportunity and took the win.
“The tournament proved to be a great success and supported the important announcement of the launch of our new brands perfectly,” said Ian.
“Everyone took to the spirit of the event and it was a great opportunity for them to relax and enjoy some banter alongside the business-focused element of the day.