Nestled in the hustle-and-bustle of Sydney's Silverwater industrial area, is MotorActive – a specialist automotive aftermarket distributor owned and operated by car enthusiast, Bruce Morrison.
MotorActive is the Australian importer, distributor and marketing agent for world-renowned brands; Mobil™ motor oils (retail) and Meguiar's™ car care products. They also manufacture and distribute ColorSpec – their own brand of automotive paint.
Initially established as Meguiar's Australia in 1990, the name of the operation was changed to MotorActive in 2005, to better represent the company's ever-expanding portfolio of automotive products and services.
“A fitter and machinist by trade, I eventually moved into industrial consumable sales – which included Meguiar's mold release wax,” says the company's founder and sole owner, Bruce Morrison. “Through this I got to know the company matriarch, Barry Meguiar. On a gentleman's handshake, I struck a deal with Barry to become the Australian importer and distributor for the Meguiar's range of car care products.”
“As someone who was born and bred in western Sydney, I'm proud to have our base in Silverwater. I know the people, I know the market – it's where a lot of the car hobby is based.”
“Although we distribute nationally, I believe being here in ‘enthusiast heartland', is an important part of the success of the business.”
“Besides, I'm proudly associated with the area, I came from grassroots, and will always stay connected to grassroots.”
As head of MotorActive, Morrison oversees a team based all around the country. This ensures consumers have access to the world's leading car-related products, no matter where they live.
“MotorActive sells into some of the nation's leading automotive retailers, as well as thousands of independent retailers and workshops located around the country.”
“We also do everything in-house; shipping, warehousing, distribution, marketing, point of sale, social media – everything! We even have our own in-house videography, editing and web development team.”
“To still be selling and still be relevant after 30 years is pretty cool – especially when you take into consideration what has changed over the years with technology and so on.”
Whilst being involved with the Meguiar's brand in Australia from the moment it entered the Australian market, it's a different story with Mobil lubricants.
“We know them (Mobil 1) as such an iconic brand, but they probably lost their way a little here in Australia and were de-ranged from several retailers.
“Mobil lubricants still had a very big slice of the industrial and commercial space, but it was not very strong in the retail consumer space.
“As a retail specialist, ExxonMobil knew MotorActive had the know-how to look after Mobil 1's rich history – and connect with people that are passionate about brands and the retail experience.”
“We specialise in the customer-facing space, and to be honest, I grew up with the brand – I was a Peter Brock fan! For quite a period, Mobil 1 was one of those brands that everyone knew but didn't buy. This created an exciting opportunity for MotorActive. We knew that we could leveraging our retail experience, to reinvigorate the brand, get it back on shelf and re-establish its profile with retail customers.”
“We've done a good job, partnering with a number of retailers – that are enjoying having Mobil lubricants including Mobil 1, Mobil Super and Mobil Delvac back on their shelves again.”
Meguiar's and Mobil 1 are not only both market leaders, the two brands also complement each other. As Bruce says, “we're helping people take care of their car both internally and externally!”
This gives MotorActive an edge when it comes to promoting and driving retail sales.
“They're iconic brands, they sit well together and drive retail traffic in both the car care and lubricants categories. These are the two biggest categories in aftermarket automotive retail. By having a ‘foot in both camps', we've become a lot more important to the retailers.”
With the world having gone through so much change over the past couple of years due to COVID and with a real dependence on importing and distribution, the business no doubt has faced its challenges.
“Early on, through to the height of COVID, everything was very good. A lot of people were spending more time at home and had a bit more time on their hands to look after their car. With retailers still trading, we did unbelievably well sales wise. On the flip side, the tail-end of the pandemic has presented a host of challenges that we've had to overcome.”
“Additional ‘buffer' stock had to be purchased to allow for delays in international freight. There's also the disruptive delays in manufacturing that everyone else has also had to endure. Through constant attention and focus on a near daily basis, MotorActive has been able to overcome these challenges to reach our desired forecasts.”
After 30 years as a successful businessman, it would be easy for Morrison to walk away. However, he's one of us, he's a car guy! It's this automotive passion that keeps him motivated.
“From my youngest days, I've always been passionate about cars. That's why I've deliberately steered MotorActive towards products and brands aimed at the enthusiast. This way, I'm able to combine my business with my passion for cars – it's all connected and has definitely kept me sharp.”
Meguiar's and Mobil lubricants can be found in a number of independent workshops, as well as all good retail outlets – including Speedcafe.com Platinum Partner, Supercheap Auto.