Car enthusiast turns hobby into business

By Nikka Garriga

PARANAQUE CITY, METRO MANILA—Bernard Liberia's passion for cars began with a career in the local automotive industry back in the late 1990s, some years before he ventured into car dealership.

He then shifted careers as a printer for a while. Though his printing press business was doing well, Bernard's clients will often call and visit him for advice on car-related concerns.

Eventually, Bernard decided to go back to dealing with cars full-time along with a business partner. This time with a car wash/car exchange enterprise.

The business has been operating for six months except that it was lacking one important part: it still didn't have a name.

"That's when I found out that in the buy and sell business, it's all about how to draw people in. We wanted a name that's something unique and synonymous with our line of business," Bernard says.

Taking inspiration from the Italian company Automobili Lamborghini, Bernard named his company Automobili Co. with a hint of humor that sounds like “Auto mo, bili ko” which translates to “I'll buy your old car.”

"This didn't really sink in to our clients at first. But what helped was our logo, which was the only lighted sign along the street where our showroom was located. So people would pass by, read and start recognizing the spoof in it."

Automobili Co. soon began creating a buzz among the buy-and-sell market, eventually growing to full-fledged car exchange company with over 300 pre-owned cars on display in its two showrooms located in Paranaque and Central Manila.

It also offers various options like trade-in, consignment, auto-loans, and even car rental services.

Bernard believes the business of pre-owned vehicles would become a flourishing trend in the coming years because people are starting to see more to pre-owned cars than just being second-hand.

“Why would you decide to buy a brand new if you know for a fact that its value gets depreciated by 30 percent the minute half of your tire rolls outside the showroom?” he says.

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