From one man’s dream to one of Malta’s most established family businesses, Burmarrad Group has come a long way since Mario Gauci, the family’s patriarch, started out almost 40 years ago. Today, it enjoys recognition as Malta’s largest supplier of new and used vans, trucks, special-purpose vehicles, cars, warehouse equipment and industrial machinery, and continues to hold true to the values of the passionate Gauci family.
Mario Gauci Jr, one of the Directors, has officially been involved with the Group since the age of 19, after completing his studies in business and marketing. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t a part of his life before that. Recalling how his childhood was inextricably linked to the business, he confides, “I used to spend most of my summer holidays assisting the team in the workshop – back then, the operation was much smaller than it is today. It gave me the opportunity to literally start from the bottom of the organisational structure.”
Today, he is responsible for the vehicle rentals department, business development and marketing, and is also in charge of the Group’s Enterprise, Alamo & National rent-a-car business. On a more personal level, he’s considered the calming force within the family business, who balances what he describes as the “very spontaneous characters” of the other Directors: his father and sisters. “I try to keep the calm since our passion can escalate at times! Having said that, we are a very close family, and we spend a lot of time together. We get along really well.”
From the company’s early days focusing on sales of used commercial vehicles to becoming Malta’s leading automotive solution providers, Burmarrad Group’s journey has diversification at its core. Looking back, Mario Jr believes that the most important factor to its success was “adapting to clients’ needs, changing with the realities of our evolving world while setting an example and being the trendsetters, rather than following trends.”
Elaborating, he affirms, “from the importation of used trucks to supply the construction industry in the early ‘80s to the supply of cranes, concrete mixers, water tankers, lifting equipment and later, small vehicles, all imported from the UK, we then became one of the first companies to import vehicles from Japan. We tapped into the car and 4×4 pickup market before the country became saturated with used car dealers.” Then, in the late ‘90s, the company introduced a game-changing service which was unheard of within the corporate industry locally: commercial vehicle rental and leasing.
Elucidating on this line of business, Mario Jr explains that leasing of vehicles is long term hire of a vehicle for an agreed amount of time for an agreed fixed monthly fee, and when it comes to sourcing vehicles for a large business, leasing can prove far more beneficial than purchasing outright. This proved to be a feather in Burmarrad Group’s cap, through which they take full care and responsibility of clients’ fleets, allowing them to focus on their business operations. “We help our clients choose the right vehicle or fleet by understanding their operations and how much it costs them to run their own fleet, offering multi-brands according to the clients’ requirements,” he maintains, adding that apart from that, “one of the advantages when leasing vehicles from our company is that we offer all after sales services in-house.”
At present, Burmarrad Group has over 1,000 vehicles rented and leased. “Nowadays, we are recognised as the largest vehicle rental and leasing company in Malta for commercial vehicles, cars and lifting equipment,” Mario Jr shares proudly, adding that the group also offers short-term vehicle rentals for individuals and the corporate market, and more recently, leasing of electric vehicles.
“We are aware that the automotive and transportation industry is a polluting one, yet Malta does not have any other means of transportation of goods other than commercial vehicles. Over 50 cars were registered daily over the last three months of 2020, and by the end of the year, the number of cars registered exceeded 400,000. Targets to reduce emissions to help prevent climate change are set, and this is a very important agenda at Burmarrad Group,” the Director maintains, explaining that the company introduced the leasing of electric vehicles back in 2019, with a fleet of panel vans, as well as a fleet of electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
“The advantage of having electric cars in Malta, apart from the obvious environmental benefits, is that the distances are very short and the battery range, depending on the type of vehicle, can last for an adequate amount of time,” he continues, noting that electric cars are growing in popularity due to their eco-friendly credentials, while also offeing reduced running costs. Yet while electric vehicle leasing makes this new technology more readily available to a wider range of budgets, Mario Jr admits that there are also challenges, as electric cars can be more expensive to lease and insure, and there are some limitations to the charging infrastructure.
Finally, although Burmarrad Group is an established brand in Malta, the company has also decided to tap into the rent-a-car market to inbound tourists, and was selected to represent and operate the global franchise Enterprise, Alamo and National. “In 2021, Enterprise was voted the number one brand globally, closely followed by National, at second and Alamo at fourth,” Mario Jr says, admitting that while times are still challenging due to the ongoing COVID situation, the operation was a perfect fit for the group. “We managed to increase our economies of scale by using our knowledge, experience and expertise to operate, maintain and service the fleet.”
And now, the next step in the enterprising group’s journey is an exciting one that the family has thought long and hard about. In Q2 of this year, Burmarrad Group will be relocating to new, larger premises in Marsa, which will house state-of-the-art equipment, training facilities, and an academy for students.
Revealing that the decision wasn’t easy for the family – who have all been born and bred in Burmarrad, it’s a necessary next step for the business. “Diversification has resulted in growth, and the space we currently occupy in Burmarrad has now become limited. The new premises in Marsa will consist of circa 14,000m² which will host our current operations at a much more sophisticated and elevated level, as well as housing our headquarters, customer care centre, a training centre for our team and new employees together with a gym, canteen and medical room facilities,” the Director smiles.
The company will also be adding new services, Mario Jr reveals, with most of the workshop’s space to be dedicated to the manufacturing of commercial vehicle bodies, box, curtain siders, tippers, cranes, tail lifts and body modifications in addition to the conversion of panel vans into refrigeration vehicles, as well as the assembling of refrigerated bodies for all sizes of vehicles and the installation of cooling units. Other services will include VRT facilities; servicing and repairs of refrigerated trailers used for freight forwarding; sandblasting of vehicles’ chassis; Dyno testing; refurbishment of classic cars; and servicing of luxury cars.
“We will also be training students who are interested in learning the skills of the services we offer, like mechanics, auto technicians, spray painters and vehicle body manufacturers and offering a firsthand experience to apprentices by observing and practising on jobs with the supervision of our professional team,” he continues, revealing the group’s intentions to collaborate with MCAST and other institutes.
Another main reason for the move, he continues, is being closer to their clients, who are mostly based in central and south industrial areas, and finally, the group will also benefit by being close to the airport for their Enterprise operations.
And, once the move takes place, the family’s got big plans for the Burmarrad premises too, he reveals. “We are planning to regenerate the current location, which spans some 6,000m², and develop it into a retail centre. It will consist of retail – including two anchor brands focused on DIY and sports – as well as a food court and other services, including a clinic and gym. We are going to maximise and really make the most of the area, as we feel that the north of the island would really benefit from a project like this,” he maintains, adding that this is projected for completion in Q2 of 2024.
“The future has never been more challenging and riskier, yet it took us almost 40 years to arrive here and we are ready to execute our plans and strategies,” Mario Jr says, looking ahead at the years to come. “Being a very close family all working on a common goal, we want to continue offering a safe workplace for our 80 personnel (which we are planning to increase to over 100 when we move to Marsa) with opportunities for career growth. We consider our team to be part of our family,” he maintains.
This also extends to their clients. “We also plan to elevate the quality of service we give to our clients. We want them to have a unique experience when using our services or buying our products, and be their solution providers for all their automotive requirements,” he continues, adding, “we will carry the name Burmarrad Group to Marsa and we want our clients to understand that our services go beyond rental, leasing and sales of commercial vehicles.”
“Progress is impossible without change. With our vision and with our teams’ knowledge and support, we can continue evolving and growing Burmarrad Group into a more dynamic and powerful entity, surpassing all the obstacles that we encounter along the way,” he concludes.
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