Leszek Kadelski interviews Krzysztof Oleksowicz, founder and first president of Inter Cars. 

This year Inter Cars is celebrating the 25th anniversary of establishment. How did the first day in history of Inter Cars look like, back in 1990 at Powsińska Street in Warsaw? 
Frankly speaking it was a smooth transition, as I had already been trading in spare parts before, since 1984.  After 1989 it was possible to do it legally, because before that time I was able to import parts as a private person, I was not able to run my own company.  So I had been operating before, realizing my idea, there were customers and even employees, but in 1990 I was able to register my own company.  In the first month of our activity we generated around 50 thousand Deutsche Marks turnover, so it is difficult to talk about a start-up in today’s meaning of the word.  
And how did this first month look like in numbers?  What was the product range like? 
At the beginning we were selling only engine parts - pistons, bearings, rings, seals - and the product range included around 500 items.  All for cars from Western Europe, we had nothing for Polish cars and this was a very fortunate decision.  
Inter Cars started back in 1990 and was developing very fast from the start.  When did you get the feeling that in the future your company might become a market leader?
At first it was just a short-term activity - just buy and sell.  At that time the demand was dramatically higher than the supply, so it was easy to sell everything.  It was also easy to generate huge increase and margins, but I cumulated the margin, what was not so often at that time.  Another thing is that I have believed in selling spare parts since the very beginning.  Friends used to come to me, offering possibility of involving in different kinds of businesses, but I rejected such offers.  I was just “blinkered” and I wanted to work in the automotive industry only.  When did I begin to think that Inter Cars can become a great company, a real one, with strategy of operations?  It was after 10 years of activity, at the end of 20th century.  Only then I realized that the pace of our growth shapes our position in Europe.  Distribution companies in the west recorded 5 percent growth in sales yearly, and Inter Cars - 50 percent.  Catching up with them was only a matter of time.  
Was awareness of that one of the reasons of today’s success of Inter Cars?
Polish distributors in the 90s of previous century had identical market conditions.  We had the same suppliers, the same customers, but Inter Cars ended in a different place.  The idea of how to sell parts was the driving force of this situation, i.e. the strategy.  
The history is not a list of successes only, though.  
Of course we made mistakes and I might risk saying that running a business is not the art of not making mistakes.  It is rather the art of making conclusions and analysing your mistakes.  If I made a mistake, what was the reason of that and what should I do in order not to repeat the mistake in the future.  The distributor number two on the market was Fota Company and it was our biggest competitor.  We should analyse what caused that today Fota is not only not a number two, but is almost leaving the market - and make the right conclusions on that.  Today the problem of Inter Cars is that we have become a big corporation divided into departments.  In each of the departments we are employing specialists, but we lack people who can see the whole process.  While seeing the whole process allows building the strategy.  
Has Inter Cars - just like some American banks - not become “too big to fall”?
Fota was also great, but still this happened.  Of course we cannot talk about one mistake only, but about many wrong decisions which cumulated and led to bankruptcy.  In case of Inter Cars the threat is very little.  Today we can compare to an express train which competes with cars crossing the railway tracks on which the train is moving - figuratively speaking.  Looking at Polish market, we are 5-6 times bigger than competitors and probably we are standing on several “legs”: spare parts for trucks, tyres, accessories, lubricants... Nevertheless our competitors do not sleep and they also generate growths.  In some cases not only not smaller than ours, but maybe even bigger.  
Source:motofaktor. pl