Executive Interviews


“I would apply the Japanese business practices acquired through AOTS program to my country” --Interview with an operations manager of an automotive dealership in St. Lucia--


 (St. Lucia/セントルシア)


Northwest Ltd.
Mr. Anderson Duane Auguste (Operations Manager)
St. Lucia


Many business people from abroad including the emerging countries have participated in AOTS training programs. Positions of the targeted participants vary with the programs including the ones for top executives.


We conducted an interview with an operations manager of an automotive dealership in St. Lucia.

Distributing brand new Japanese cars

Northwest Ltd. was established in 1983 as an automotive dealership, with 37 employees, inclusive of 3 directors. It provides products and services to the entire country from its single location strategically located in the capital city. Our products and services comprise new vehicle, parts, battery, lubricant, and tire sales, vehicle repairs and fleet management services. Our company imports brand new cars from Isuzu and Mazda of Japan, Kia from Korea, and Ford, mostly from South Africa.

Open door and easy access

-Please tell us your management philosophy.
The company’s basic corporate philosophy is putting our faith in an open door policy and ease of access to both our customers and especially our staff. The middle and upper management are always reachable and so make it as easy as possible to create an atmosphere of connectivity.

Advanced education in college

-How do you address challenges inevitable to a developing country?


One of the reasons I am attending the AOTS PQM (Program for Quality Management) is to improve customer satisfaction within my country. This has a lot of challenges without any proper structural format. The PQM program will help our country bring in a customer-satisfaction format. It will definitely help alleviate the problem.


The population of my country is 160,000. Since there are no trains in my country, the majority of the population takes buses to commute. Although some people own cars, most people either travel by bus or use the ‘carpooling’ system especially during the week because of the parking problem in the city. The vehicle industry in my country has recently downshifted to selling used cars, so one of the main challenges facing our company is the upward trend of used imported vehicles sales against new vehicle sales. Despite the fact that, like new cars, used cars are also mainly imported from Japan, the used car market does not have controls whereas the new car market has to follow government policy. New vehicle dealers are subjected to many standards in order to maintain sales of their products and services whilst used car dealers are left up to their own devices. I have long advocated that the playing field should be level if competition is to remain fair. A competitive atmosphere would be beneficial for everybody across the world. However, because of globalization and since we live in a democratic country, it is difficult to change the current situation, so we have to learn how to regulate our imports under the current system. Used cars are as cheap as the cost of a hood on a brand new car and the condition of used cars coming from Japan is immaculate, and on a par with the workability of brand new ones. Being in a country that does not have a great deal of wealth, we do not have a solid middle class feeding into economy, so the industry tends to get people who prefer to buy used cars rather than new ones.


There are also shortages of specialized trained personnel in specific areas of the business (e.g., service managers and service advisors). I have made several attempts over the years to engage our local tertiary institutions in talks with automotive dealers in order to design a new syllabus to incorporate the technologies and standards recommended by the manufacturers in sales and repairs so as to create more competent workers. On numerous occasions I have been asked to give lectures to college students, which I enjoy tremendously. I have a very good relationship with my colleagues at the colleges and we are trying to change the vision and creating more realistic subjects for the syllabus of the schools. We cooperate in teaching and training college students depending on the different industrial sectors so that they are ready to work by the time they graduate from college.


Another challenge for our business is shipping logistics because more or less all products have to be sourced from outside the country and delays in shipments have a crippling effect on product availability and negatively impacts your targets. Some manufacturers have moved parts distribution centers to North America as a way to shorten delivery times on orders.

Increase purchase from existing supplier

-What are your business prospects with overseas?


Business in the global market will always be an uphill battle for companies like ours because micro markets are still neglected by foreign companies. In most product sales driven businesses, the focus is on after sales service in order to maintain customer retention. The strategies to achieve good customer retention in larger markets do not always work in micro markets (e.g., administering quality warranty policies to customers). Some of the pay rate calculations are so low that it affects the bottom line and causes businesses losses which jeopardizes the quality of the after sale service administered to the customer. I think greater analysis should be placed on those markets in understanding the real issues affecting them so policies could be crafted for better stabilization.


Expanding your business should always be part of your strategic plan if a business is to be successful. In our case we will more likely to explore increasing our purchase from our existing suppliers rather than add new suppliers at the moment.


We lack long term structural strategies that would allow us to develop the industries to control our rate of importation, namely the agricultural and fisheries industry. Self-sustainability projects in different sectors of that industry should be the way to start the proper development of the country. As a business we are able to remain competitive with some products, but others, like new vehicle sales, it is a two-pronged attack; namely, direct competitors and the influx of the used vehicle market.

Inculcating practices through PQM program

The business culture in my country and the Caribbean region is slowly evolving but not at the rate it should be. The mindset of the majority of the people is driven by some form of dependency that hinders the progress of the nation. The nature of politics in the region subliminally teaches the working class to depend on governments and not foster an atmosphere of independence that will transition into productive growth of a nation. That is why programs like PQM are so important to developing nations like mine because they thoroughly equip people to inculcate effective practices created by a successful Japanese business culture to help steer change. This could also be beneficial for when grants are given by Japanese donors who are trained in the right business practices so the projects are sustainable long after the grants have been handed over.  
My company has made it a priority to develop human resources by engaging in team building workshops with professional self-development centers and also with our own after hours/off compound company activities designed to do the same. We believe we have had some measure of success from these, however, the challenges are always a question of discerning how the motivation of the entire human resource as a group may be set against that of the motivation of the individual.

Can't wait to apply the knowledge to my country

In 1993, I was exposed to the discipline and work ethics of the Japanese people. Since then I have endeavored to emulate those ethics and standards. This taught me that for success at any level, there must be a solid structure at its foundation. Now visiting for the second time after two decades I was surprised to see that there was not a negative change but a vast improvement in the qualities I remembered from my last visit. I am always truly fascinated by how the average Japanese is so receptive to assisting anyone when asked for help.
All the companies visited were very informative. Even when some questions were almost regarded as trade secrets, they still answered to the best of their capabilities. It was quite noticeable from the interaction with the staff of those companies that they were very knowledgeable about the products and services offered to their customers. It was also remarkable that the training received at the AOTS on PQM was applied in exactly the same way as those companies operated.
I can't wait to apply the knowledge I received to benefit the final product within my company and by extension my country.
Thank you very much for your kind understanding and cooperation.