Troubled to Thriving

River Murray Auto Wreckers

When they bought the business, Darran and Nai did so with the aim of further expansion and growth, and Darran was also looking forward to independence and being his own boss. A particular goal they had was for the business to be able to function well without them, so they could have time off if they needed to.


• Business was not growing quick enough and revenue had fallen by more than 30%
• Not the type of business that could function without constant input and long hours


River Murray Auto Wreckers (RMAW) is a quality second-hand auto parts supplier based in Barmera, South Australia. The business began in 1974, and was bought into by Chris and Eve Vandewoude in 1982.

The Vandewoude’s son Darran worked in the family business from 1996 in a managerial and salesman role, and helped to grow the enterprise from a local vehicle dismantler to a national auto parts supplier. Darran and his wife Naiomi bought RMAW in 2010 after Darran’s parents exited from the business.



1. Direction and Focus

While Darran had been in the business for many years and knew the industry very well and how to make a living from it, running the business as an owner / manager was an entirely different ball game. Essentially, he knew where he wanted the business to go, but lacked the knowledge and experience in creating and implementing strategies that could make that happen.

Solution: Attaining his goals required a shift of mindset – from one of working day-to-day in the business to thinking like a strategic manager. By doing this he was able to shift his focus more towards the bigger, longer-term picture.

2. Strategic Financial Planning

While money was coming in, Darran had little idea of where in the business the most or least income was generated.

Solution:Through coaching he learned how to measure the business revenue and analyse where the sales were coming from – in other words to determine what was selling and what wasn’t. This enabled him to identify where he needed to direct his time and energy to generate more income, and to make informed decisions that would contribute to real business growth.

3.System and Training

Darran wanted a business that could perform without him always needing to be there, and this wasn’t happening.

Solution: By learning how to focus on worthwhile and profitable activities, Darran has also been able to spend more time training the team – which has led to his employees needing him a lot less. The company has also developed a policy and procedures manual, which means staff now have a resource to guide them.


The number of clients has increased, and turnover has grown by around 90% from pre-coaching levels. Also, as a result of identifying one of their best-selling products, the company’s retail side has increased by around 75%.

• Marketing has improved to such an extent that some products are now being sold overseas – in New Zealand, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
• The business has been able to take on another full-time employee.
• Coaching has helped Darran break all time sales records, something that has not been achieved in 40 years.
• Roles and responsibilities for everyone have become clearer.
• Darran recently achieved a weeks’ worth of sales in one day.
• The business has become much more organised and efficient.
• Coaching has brought personal as well as business growth.
• Darran is now able to focus on team training, attending auctions, marketing, and attracting new sales.
• Darran and Nai are now able to have time off without worrying how the business will function while they’re gone.

Darran says coaching has exceeded his expectations. “While I am still working the same sort of hours as before, I am achieving a lot more during that time and no longer sitting around wondering what I should be doing. I have a clear focus and outcomes in mind, and I know what I need to be doing at any given time of the day. Being able to work more efficiently means we get more accomplished, which will hopefully free up some hours for us in the coming months”.