WARREN VON BIBRA REFLECTS ON A COLOURFUL CAREER
With 10 new car franchises and an extensive used car operation, Warren Von Bibra is one of the biggest operators on the Gold Coast.
In 1998, Warren sold his dealerships in Tasmania and moved to the Gold Coast after purchasing Warren Mackie Nissan and Honda. Two additional dealerships in Robina and Tweed Heads were purchased in 2007. Five years later, the Von Bibra Motor Group purchased the Zupps new and used car businesses. Here’s an insight into one of the Gold Coast’s most successful businessmen.
In 2012, you said that the opportunities on the Gold Coast were excellent. Is that still true in 2014?
Yes. You’ve just got to pick your mark a little bit but there are plenty of opportunities up here.
Have you always been a keen supporter of charities?
Absolutely, my son Wade recently organised a family fun day where we got all our families together including business associates’ families and invited the public, we raised $20,000 which we donated to Bravehearts and the Animal Welfare League – they’re our two major sponsors. Last year we pledged $90,000 to Bravehearts which amounts to $20 per car sold.
Another time, he sat me in a dunking machine. I was set up on this stool and they had to hit a special spot on the wall beside me and then the trap door would open and I’d fall into the water…the young blokes were lined up ready to dunk me but it took them a while.
The Institute of Glycomics is my baby. They’re trying to conquer Leukaemia in young children and other different diseases out there.
Do you miss Tasmania at all?
Tasmania was very kind to me. I loved it growing up. All my family —Sally, Wade and Caroline, we all grew up there but I wouldn’t like to be running a business there at the moment.
What does Warren Von Bibra do to relax?
I’ve got a 72 foot Princess at Hamilton Island and every five or six weeks we take it around the islands, find a nice spot, drop anchor, have a casual drink and relax.
What are your dislikes?
I’ve got some slow racehorses – they’re expensive, like the boat.
What are your likes?
I love my family. I love being with people who are positive. I don’t like negativity when it comes to all sorts of things but mainly people—I surround myself with good people that are vibrant and are interesting to talk to. I also love to swim. I do it almost daily because I live on the beach. I used to love surfing but that’s all history now.
What have you learned about yourself over the course of your career?
That I put in too many hours and went too hard and didn’t stand back and look at my business as often as I should have done and so now I’m doing that, because I’ve got the time to do it.
Do you still use your ‘Yes, Yes, Yes.’ and ‘We’ll Trade Anything.’ slogans in your advertising?
I’m still remembered in Tasmania for my advertising campaigns. But all the stuff I used to do like sitting in a rubbish tip and saying ‘take a tip from me, I’ll trade you cash’ are long gone.
Over the years I traded all sorts of things, chaise lounges, cattle, horses, port, a gold nugget, bulldozers, and houses – you name it. Up until a couple of years ago we used ‘Betcha Bibra’s will beat it.’ But my son said that was okay for the 80s and 90s but not 2014. Today we use ‘The Years Behind Us Puts Us Years Ahead.’
Also, I’m vigorously promoting service and parts and trying to compete against the other guys who are out there saying that they can do it better than the franchise dealers, which they can’t, we know they can’t, but we’ve got to get that message out there.
What do you think is the main issue that the reformed AADA should be tackling?
I’ve been a member for many years and we’ve got a great opportunity to unite. It’s like a glove – it’s got to fit and we’ve all got to work together to make that work. Over the years, dealers have been too independent and haven’t been able to get involved or want to get involved and there were lots of reasons why they shouldn’t. Now I think we must get behind the new AADA, support and work with them. It’s fine just to put your hand in your pocket and give some money but you’ve got to be a part of it.
To a degree, I think we’re a bunch of cowboys which disappoints me because we should be a lot stronger than what we are. We’re small, we get controlled easily, but I don’t know. It frustrates me. I’m hoping that this is the light at the end of the tunnel, what’s happening now, and I’m certainly behind it a hundred miles an hour.