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Entrepreneurship on wheels, it goes fast for Jaguar Land Rover Spegelaere

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Bruges

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Jaguar Land Rover Spegelaere has been a household name in the West Flemish capital for years. At the wheel are Filip and Frederik, who were brought up on their passion for everything that drives on four wheels. They left the beaches of Knokke behind to join their successful family business in Bruges. Since then, things have been going fast for the brothers.

Growing up with flour and vintage cars

"My father was a baker," Filip interrupts. "But in addition to the bakery, he also had a strong fondness for cars and especially vintage cars. As a child we loved to ride along in the Range Rover. His first vintage car was a Willys Jeep and later an old Jaguar XK. No wonder my brother and I both chose to study automotive engineering. I had my first job at Land Rover in Ostend. Then a prime location became available in Bruges, where there was not yet a Land Rover garage."

We write the year 1997. Filip is then 23, his brother Frederik 27. But the entrepreneurial blood is clearly running high. "My brother and I decided to take the plunge. We started out in a rented building in Oostkamp. When the building in Bruges was finished, we moved to the current location. In the beginning we divided Landrover and MG - Rover. We did everything with the two of us: sales, administration, maintenance and repairs. As you can imagine, we were working long hours. So we started to hire employees pretty soon. In 2005 MG - Rover went bankrupt, but Land Rover sold so well that our company continued to grow."

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"Our new building required a huge investment and I was only too happy to have Titeca on our side!"

Entrepreneurship is about making tough decisions

"In 2016, Jaguar joined us, through a global partnership between Land Rover and Jaguar. That required the necessary adjustments to our building and showroom. We sat around the table with our architect for a very long time asking ourselves: do we adapt the existing building or do we immediately put up a brand new branch? Because our branch was less than twenty years old, that seemed rather drastic. One option was to rent or sell the building, but in Bruges you don't have many A-locations for a garage, so we quickly decided to start all over again. Quite an undertaking, though."

"Currently we are working together with twenty employees. My brother and I feel each other very well. We can count the discussions we had in the last twenty years on one hand."


Tightly committed

"In the early days we had Erik Martens, our uncle, as our accountant. He was an accountant in Merelbeke and drew up a wonderful financial plan. Erik always guided us very well, until he became ill and passed away. Before his death, he left his office to Titeca. In the meantime, we made the move to the Roeselare office. We work closely together with Bram, Veerle and Marijke, among others. What I like is that Titeca is more than just an accounting firm, they can assist entrepreneurs in many different areas. For example, Titeca has really guided us in the realization of this new building, with a tight financial plan. Marijke carried out the negotiations with the bank. She does a fantastic job. We have been working together with our account manager Veerle for years now. That bond of trust is important to me. She knows the history and our file through and through. Moreover, Veerle knows the brand well, which is important for our obligatory report to Jaguar-Land Rover, among other things."


Back to the coast

When asked what his advice to young entrepreneurs is, Filip doesn't have to think long. "Keep your feet firmly on the ground, even if everything is going very well. Things can stagnate or decline at any time. That's how we felt the banking crisis a few years ago. At such times, a good accountant is indispensable. Someone who keeps an eye on your figures and doesn't let you jump further than your cane. Our new building required a huge investment and I was only too glad that we had Titeca on our side!"

Not only does his business run, but Filip also ventures out to run from time to time. "I love to run or mountain bike for an hour in the evening to clear my head. In the weekend we often go back to Knokke, where my parents still live. I love living in Bruges, but I miss the sea."


Travel and racing

Whether any succession is planned for the future, Filip doesn't know yet. "I have two daughters aged 13 and 15. If they ever want to continue the business, I would of course be delighted, but I will leave them to it. In any case, they are very interested in cars. Twice a year we take our customers on a 4×4 trip, one weekend and one longer trip. We always travel through a different country. We have already been to Hungary, Scotland, Wales, Finland and Corsica.

 

True car love

It's hard to choose for Filip, "I can't really name one favorite car, it's like choosing between your own children... The big Range Rover remains for me the best car ever, but currently I have the 100% electric I-Pace which drives really fantastic. In the summer I like to drive my Defender convertible where the dog then sits in the back of the trunk with his ears in the wind. As a car enthusiast, it is indeed an advantage to be a concessionaire yourself."

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