CAR PASSION DRIVES GINO TO SUCCESS
From selling hot pies at the footy to running a large automotive aftermarket business, IM Group’s Gino Ricciuti has always excelled
IM Group’s Gino Ricciuti knew he was destined to work in the automotive industry right from when he fell in love with cars during the Dandenong street meets as a teenager.
“From working at the service station through to spending my teenage years hanging out with my mates at the ‘Dandy’ drags on the weekends, my love of cars has been reinforced over the years,” he said.
Born in Oakleigh in 1967 to Italian parents, Gino was the second of four children. He grew up in Springvale and went to the Sandown Park Primary school and then onto Clayton Technical school in the early ’80s.
He started part-time work at the age of 13 pumping petrol at the local Caltex service station on Springvale Road after his school day. At the same time, he was selling newspapers on the side of the Princes Highway on Saturday mornings and selling hot pies to the football crowds at VFL Park in the afternoon.
“These experiences clearly showed me that I wanted to be in a sales role in some capacity,” Gino said.
Gino’s first full-time position was as a phone salesperson at HM Gem engines in 1987 when he was 18 years old.
Being part of a rapidly expanding company and industry provided him with numerous career opportunities.
“I took the approach of jumping in feet first where I could, even though at the time I was probably under-qualified,” he explains.
“I took on a role as a marketing manager in the early ‘90s without formal qualifications, but I then completed a marketing diploma at night school to gear up for the role. The management of HM Gem offered a lot of support and had great faith in me during this time.”
It wasn’t long before Gino found himself at a crossroads in his career.
“Once I’d completed my time at HM Gem, I was deciding between two roles in the automotive industry,” he says.
“One was in a large corporate organisation; the other was with Injectronics (now IM Group). At the time Injectronics was a privately owned company.
“I was looking for a role where I could add value and make a tangible difference. So, I chose to work for Rex Vandenberg at Injectronics.
“I know I made the right decision, and I have enjoyed working with this company and being a major part of its outstanding growth major part of its outstanding growth for the last 17 years.”
However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
“There was a time as a manager where I should have trusted my initial instincts. I ended up choosing what might have been considered the easier path and the repercussions come back to bite me. I learnt a lot from that incident, mainly about backing myself,” Gino says.
There has been a lot that Gino has learnt about himself over the years.
“I value being genuine, honest and open. I feel these are my strengths in dealing with people both in and out of the workplace,” he says.
“Having worked in the industry for over 35 years, the longevity of my career is something I’m extremely proud of and I’d consider that a great strength.”
So what would today’s Gino tell his younger self?
“The main points I would try and emphasise would be that hard work and loyalty are still highly valued in today’s automotive industry. Plus a positive attitude also goes a long way to protecting and strengthening your brand,” he says.
In fact, Gino believes a good attitude is “100 percent” the best attribute a prospective employee could have.
“Someone with a good attitude and work ethic makes a great team member. Skills can be taught and enhanced on the job,” he says.
Gino enjoys watching his AFL team, Carlton, play – even though results have been slim lately.
“Unfortunately, they haven’t given me much joy over the recent years. I also love horse racing and getting to the track with mates is always fun,” he says.
“I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, whether it be going out to dinner or a backyard BBQ. I’m a people person and enjoy having friends around.”
Gino has been with his partner, Elizabeth, for eight years. He has a five-year-old son Oscar, who he says “keeps me on my toes.”
“Whilst having a young child at my age can be exhausting, I really wouldn’t change it for the world. There is always something happening and I love watching Oscar grow and learn,” he says.
From small acorns, big oak trees grow
Injectronics began in 1983. Rex Vandenberg and his brother started out by repairing Delco ECM’s along with other electronic parts and selling them as exchange units, with Rex a pioneer in this field.
IM Group was established in 2012 to house the integral Injectronics brand. Other brands such as RAE Ignition Distributors and MAP Keys and Remotes were also added along the way while the company also became the exclusive ANZ market distributors of the popular American brand, Dorman.
In 2017, the IM Group was acquired by GUD Holdings and Goss Vehicle Mechatronics was moved into the IMG portfolio of brands. IM Group is now an important part of the GUD automotive arm which comprises several leading aftermarket brands.
“We consider Injectronics as our very own innovation hub, providing the aftermarket with testing, repair or remanufactured solutions for electronic parts for anything from passenger vehicles, all the way to heavy-duty earthmoving equipment control modules,” Gino explains.
“Our immediate future also includes an exciting move into the Electric / Hybrid Vehicle space.”
Gino believes that Goss provides the aftermarket with a true alternative to Genuine OE products. From automotive sensors, injectors, air mass meters, EGR valves, throttle bodies and all ranges in between.
Dorman is an American company for which IM Group has exclusive distribution rights in Australia and New Zealand.
“Innovation is at the heart of the Dorman brand, and our product offering is extremely wide and varied, manufacturing and selling only products that are known to fail. Anything from dipsticks to oil coolers and pre-pressed hub assemblies,” Gino says.
“We have an extremely strong distribution network in Australia and New Zealand, including GPC, BAPCOR, Wesfil and many independent resellers.
“We are always working towards our strategy of ‘Solving our customers electronic and mechatronic needs fast.’”
Gino explains that the move under the GUD umbrella was the turning point in the business.
“Whilst Rex was a fantastic businessman and person to work for, he also acknowledged that he had taken the business as far as he could,” Gino says.
“The sale of the business to GUD Holdings has allowed IM Group to spread our wings into some very exciting spaces.”
He also says there are plenty of challenges ahead for IM Group, but he believes the business is up to the task.
“Our customer service and being first to market with our new and emerging ranges sets us apart from our competitors. We are extremely nimble and can make changes on the go,” Gino says.
“Rapidly changing technology and the smarts that are being utilised in electronic and mechatronic components, has historically and always will be our greatest challenge.
“The ability to reverse engineer products as well as research how each module communicates with each other, programming and other technologies is constantly challenging us as a business.
“In the past you may have had one or two modules communicating with each other to run the car; however, the number of modules in today’s modern vehicles that are all interconnected and communicating is another challenging aspect of what we do.
“We see hybrid and electric vehicles as a natural progression to our existing business and skill set. While the on-road numbers of EVs are still quite low, we expect these numbers to rapidly increase over the next few years and we want to position ourselves at the forefront of developing programs for the Australian and New Zealand aftermarket.”
IM Group has created a third business segment which it has internally called CHEV (Circular Hybrid and Electric power solutions). The three pillars of focus will be:
• Focusing on products from a Circular Economy/Environmental perspective, developing second, third and even fourth life opportunities for automotive products.
• Developing programs solely focused on hybrid and electric vehicles (non-ICE).
• Exploring alternative uses for products that can no longer be used in the vehicle, such as power storage for lithium batteries, and ultimately end of life recycling of components.
“Our focus is on the long-term commercial ability of any programs we develop, and as such, this is an IM Group and GUD financial investment and step into this future space,” Gino enthuses.
“We are extremely excited about this new business segment, as it reinforces the IM Group already strong reputation of being an innovative leader in the industry.”
For more from IM Group, visit www.im-group.com.au