Now one of Australia’s largest automotive parts distributors, CoolDrive has this year been celebrating 40 years in business in real style

In a busy 2017, along with its giant birthday bash, CoolDrive recently opened its 30th branch across Australia and New Zealand, and also acquired the Logicar engine management spare parts business.
Originally established as an automotive air-conditioning specialist, CoolDrive today offers the trade a comprehensive range of automotive air conditioning, electrical, and associated engine cooling, management and efficiency products.
CoolDrive marked its four decades in business earlier this year with a celebratory dinner in the Melbourne CBD.
Attended by 250 industry luminaries, suppliers, key staff past and present, branch managers and special guests, the evening at the iconic Zinc restaurant at Federation Square included CoolDrive’s annual Branch Manager awards presentation.
Across the celebratory evening, many stories were relayed of CoolDrive’s early struggles and the challenges along the way, and Managing Director John Blanchard spoke of the tremendous growth the business has experienced over the last 10 years.
“It was a tremendous night for everyone involved with CoolDrive, from the early days to the present,” CoolDrive General Manager – Marketing, Tim Blanchard, said.
“We were honoured that so many key industry people and suppliers chose to join us to celebrate our 40 years and to acknowledge the efforts of our amazing network of Branches over the past 12 months.”
Not long after the 40th Anniversary dinner, CoolDrive announced further expansion of its operations in automotive parts with the acquisition of Logicar’s engine management spare parts business.
And at the same time, CoolDrive also acquired a 50 percent stake in the remaining Logicar Equipment and ECU reconditioning business, which will continue to operate as a separate entity in a joint-venture between CoolDrive and the Stillwell Motor Group.
Taking over the engine management spare parts business formerly run by Logicar has further strengthened the CoolDrive operation in this field in the southern states, with four of the Logicar outlets being absorbed in the acquisition.
Additionally, the existing Logicar Hobart outlet has rebranded as CoolDrive’s 29th branch.
“Acquiring the Logicar engine management parts business was about expanding our offering to the market in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, to bring it to the same level as that we’re already offering in NSW and Queensland,” Tim said.
“It’s also about capacity … this move enabled us to strengthen our product offering as well as our technical and sales expertise, all of which enhance our brand.”
Logicar’s workshop equipment and ECU reconditioning business remains under that brand, but warehousing, transport and logistics is now managed by CoolDrive on behalf of the new joint-venture.
“Going forward together with these aspects of the Logicar business makes sense for both joint-venture partners,” Tim said.
“It plays to the strengths of each … we bring all the logistical hardware and systems you need to run the business efficiently and effectively, while Logicar has the investment in the sales specialists, product knowledge and industry expertise.
“With the new joint-venture, Logicar is now able to offer its customers CoolDrive’s expertise and areas of speciality new to it, such as the commissioning of automotive air-conditioning equipment.
“It’ll be reciprocal business and jointly we anticipate good growth from both ventures.”
An example of benefits of the Logicar acquisition is the ability for CoolDrive to refer customers to Logicar, for the renowned Challenger brand of automotive workshop hoists.
The first of these, the SA10, is hugely versatile with its adjustable symmetrical or asymmetrical configuration, adjustable height and width options to accommodate varying workshop bay sizes and larger vehicles within the rated capacity.
Challenger manufactures a large range of hoists to suit most workshop situations and is one of the leading brands in the USA and is the first choice for efficient and reliable lifting solutions.
CoolDrive has also been acquiring infrastructure too, with the purchase of a new bulk warehousing facility in Melbourne, after out-growing its existing storage space.
Used for bulk storage of larger components and parts, the new facility in nearby Blackburn complemented the existing but overflowing warehousing adjacent to the company’s national head office in Box Hill.
“We used space from our previous office and warehouse next door, but our continually-increasing inventory meant that we had outgrown those facilities,” Tim explained.
“By purchasing the additional space, we now have somewhere to store bulk deliveries when orders arrive, and it has given us room to better handle the larger components and parts we sell.
“The diverse range of products supplied by CoolDrive, with items as small as switches and spark plugs to the larger sized items such as truck radiators, has challenged our Logistics team to find appropriate storage and shelf space.
“With the new building, we have overcome this challenge and these efficiencies are delivering additional benefits to our customers in the form of quicker response.”
Perhaps CoolDrive’s most visible activity this year has been its branch expansion program.
CoolDrive started the year with 27 branches across Australia and New Zealand and has added a further three new branches here, to reach the milestone 30th branch in early October.
The 30th branch, at Ashmore on Queensland’s Gold Coast, is a well-located new facility which features a modern showroom and offices, supporting an 800sq metre warehouse which carries an extensive inventory.
“Reaching our 30th branch was an absolute landmark for the business,” Tim said.
“People and location are critical to delivering the product and service customers expect from CoolDrive, so I am delighted we were able to meet those expectations on the Gold Coast with the opening of our 30th branch.”
Earlier in the year, CoolDrive officially opened the doors to its 28th Australian branch with an outlet in Wagga Wagga, in regional New South Wales.
Prominently situated on one of Wagga Wagga’s busiest roads and in the hub of the local automotive area, the new branch brought to seven the number of CoolDrive branches in New South Wales.
CoolDrive Darwin also unofficially opened its relocated branch in style in mid-June with a ‘Trade Show’ that saw Supercar driver Tim Blanchard and his CoolDrive Racing Commodore making a special guest appearance.
Both were in town for the Supercars round at Hidden Valley, making it the ideal opportunity to celebrate the Darwin branch’s much-needed relocation to larger premises.
The new Darwin premises boasts significantly larger warehousing space, enabling CoolDrive to have more stock on hand to respond to unprecedented growth in the region.
Recognising the tyranny of distance in the Northern Territory, CoolDrive designed the new facility to minimise such logistics issues, doubling storage capacity, which in turn sped up customer response, service and satisfaction.
Along with CoolDrive’s regular product and support offerings, the Darwin branch also has extensive large machinery expertise to service the nearby port and mining operations.
CoolDrive has been on the march in Tasmania too, moving to a new location in Launceston as well as opening in Hobart, in the former Logicar premises.
“It’s been an amazing year for the business, it’s hard to imagine even more going on than all this,” Tim said.
“But the future looks very bright, we have more exciting plans and developments underway, so you can expect plenty more to talk about in our 41st year!”

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