When Jack Dube migrated to New Zealand almost 23 years ago, he had no idea that he was destined to become a successful entrepreneur, meeting scores of people every day and employing a staff of varied capabilities and talent.
Being involved in the trucking business of his father, the late Maharaj Dube in his native Fiji, he did not envisage a need to work for anyone else.
But arriving in New Zealand with heart full of hope and ambition, he had no alternative but to seek employment.
After three years of working for a car dealer, he asked himself, “Why not start my own retail business of selling used cars?’
Most of his associates and friends were against the idea and tried to discourage him from moving forward.
“Do not make such a mistake. This is a tough business and your enterprise can crash easily,” they said.
However, the late Mr Dube was supportive of his move.
“You have the drive; you work hard, be honest and upfront, and you cannot fail. Remember that you should never tell lies or mislead anyone,” he advised.
That was the beginning of a new chapter in Mr Dube’s life and career.
He established ‘Tela Investments Limited’ at 32 Saleyards Road in Otahuhu on November 15, 1994 to retail used cars.
He has never gone on the reverse gear since then.
It was of course not a smooth ride.
He was among the first Indo-Fijians to be a Licenced Motor Vehicle Dealer (LMVD), he could neither seek help from his compatriots nor learn from their experience. But his father’s words rung the truth.
His company opened its doors with just 10 cars.
“I was on the slow track. Selling proved to be difficult and at the end of the first month, I had sold just five cars. They were vehicles imported from overseas and were called, ‘New in New Zealand. I learnt the art of patience and perseverance. I was confident that the company would pick up speed at some stage,” he said.
He was not wrong.
As customers began to realise that the company was a staunch believer in honesty and integrity, they began to multiply.
Tela Investments Limited later became The Car Clearance Centre and in 2005, moved to a larger premises at 41, Saleyards Road, just across the road from its previous location.
“One of the problems with purchasing used cars is that you are never sure if the odometer has been tampered with to make them appear having travelled less distance since its date of manufacture. But at The Car Clearance Centre, we feel assured and confident. Mr Dube is known for his integrity and so are his people,” a customer said.
It is often said, “Reaching heights of popularity and profitability is less difficult than remaining there,” but in the case of Mr Dube and his team, the challenge is to do more and add value to every transaction.
The company reached a milestone in 1996, when the first batch of cars arrived from Japan directly shipped to The Car Clearance Centre.
The movement of cars was on the growth path.
But it was not until a year or so later that the company experienced a major turning point, when it imported 35 vehicles, following Mr Dube’s visit to Japan.
“It was a major risk- bringing in so many vehicles. But I knew that my customers would not let me fail. The cars began to move from our showroom at a faster rate than ever before,” he said.
Two major developments in later years helped The Car Clearance Centre to accelerate its path in progress.
They related to two important men in Mr Dube’s life- his brother Rakesh Dube, who joined the company to become the Chief Buyer and Dalip Singh, who assumed the role of Business Manager in 2003.
“We call him ‘Uncle D’ and respect him for his age, expertise and experience. He is a source of great strength and confidence to all of us. He has been instrumental in steering the company towards higher levels of productivity and progress. It was by chance that we met him at a party in North Shore City, although we had known him as veteran car dealer in Fiji,” Mr Dube said.
The fact that the company deals with people through people makes it a successful working mechanism.