• This ‘nerd’ knows his automotive stuff

    Francis Aguila shows off the high-end products sold at Autoperformance PH like Sabelt racing suits and belts and HRW wheels.

    Francis Aguila shows off the high-end products sold at Autoperformance PH like Sabelt racing suits and belts and HRW wheels.

    IF there is anybody who gives justice to the term “nerd,” it is Francis Aguila. But Aguila, who established Autoperformance Ph and ARC Automotive with partners, is not necessarily trapped in his own world – cars and almost everything automotive are just his passions.

    Aguila, who once worked in the family-owned factory producing windshields for trucks and buses, is also the face of Brembo in the Philippines and can talks hours about the brand and why virtually every motorist should switch to Brembo brake pads or shoes.

    His venture into the automotive business started with ARC Automotive that can service high-end brands like BMW and Mercedes Benz but is also aimed at those who own Japanese or even Korean brands.

    Aguila said ARC stands for Aguila, Manolet Ramos and another partner who prefers not to be named.

    “It sounds nice [ARC]. So we put up the car shop in May 2011, and then a year later, myself and Albert we partnered up and we put up Autoperformance,” he added.

    “We’re a car repair center, we do mechanical service and we do detailing as well. No paint and body [works]. We do a little bit of tuning for BMW,” Aguila said.

    Put it plainly, ARC Automotive offers service that is at the level provided by car dealerships but at a price that is not sky-high. Its capability to service top European brands also became a key to attracting more clients.

    Ramos said the shop’s first clients were members of the BMW car club in the Philippines who were their friends.

    “When you put up something like a restaurant, the first people you invite are your friends. And since we were all active in the BMW car club, the first people we invited to our shop were our friends,” he added.

    It also happened that Aguila, Ramos and their partner own BMW E30s that is one of the most coveted compact cars produced by the brand.

    ARC Automotive was also able to get the services of a certified BMW master mechanic, a Filipino who grew up and worked in the United States for the brand. Although the Filipino certified BMW master mechanic will go back to the United States, he was able to train ARC’s top mechanics on how to tinker with BMWs.

    “So everything just fell into place. We actually brought him here from the States. He’s actually a certified master BMW mechanic and has been here for three years,” Ramos, also a long-time officer of the Manila Sports Club, said.

    Aguila said that because of the good reputation they built over the years, there is a need to move to a bigger place in the future. The facility of ARC Automotive, which also houses Autoperformance PH, is located at 1159 Don Chino Roces Avenue in Makati City.

    “We are looking at expanding the facility a little bit here. It is in the cards that we are looking around for a bigger place. But we don’t want have a bigger place for the sake of having a bigger place,” he added.

    ARC Automotive is already part of the Bosch network giving it access to maintenance parts of the brand that are available for most brands like filters and spark plugs. Aguila said the shop only carries brands that he and his partners can trust and are willing to use in their vehicles.

    “If it’s a product we won’t put into our cars, we’re not interested in carrying it,” he added.

    When it comes to motor oils, ARC Automotive primarily carries three brands: Motul, Liqui Moly and Shell. The other brands under ARC are V-Cool tinting, Sonax car care products, Liqui Moly engine and car care products. Then there’s BG engine additives.

    Aguila said ARC was convinced to carry BG products after they conducted tests on a dynamometer that measures a car’s horsepower at the wheels.

    “If I see less than two horsepower gain, I’m not going to pay for it, because that might be just a fluctuation,” he added.

    Aguila and his partners, however, saw a five-hp gain from the dyno test and were convinced BG was product worthy to be marketed at ARC Automotive.

    “Ever since we started using [and selling]them [BG products], the feedback has been tremendous, very good,” Ramos said.

    When it comes to the brands available at Autoperformance PH, Brembo is perhaps the most intimidating because it is popularly associated with super cars and motor sports.

    Aguila dispelled the notion that Brembo is only for high-end vehicles and motor sports, saying that almost every vehicle on the road can benefit from using Brembo brake pads and shoes.

    He added that although Brembo brake pads and shoes are more expensive than the mainstream brands, they are still worth the investment.

    “Brembo pads are easier on the brake disc. The pad is meant to wear before the brake disc because the pad is the cheaper component. It makes no sense to wear out the brake discs [first],” Aguila said.

    He explained that if a vehicle’s discs or drums wear out faster, their ability to absorb and disperse heat is lessened leading to “brake fade” or lesser braking efficiency from heat build-up.

    “When you think of it [brake disc]as a cup, your cup gets smaller and what it means is it absorbs less and less heat. And your brake system will fail faster,” Aguila said.

    Brake fade can thus become a nightmare for motorists when the need to make an emergency stop happens. There is, however, a way to avoid brake fade, which is to drive slower.

    “In terms of driving habits, drive slower,” Aguila said.

    But as the mileage of a car starts to pile up, the brake discs and drums eventually wear out, requiring refacing them at automotive shops. The purpose of refacing is to even out surfaces of the discs and drums so the pads and shoes, respectively, will have an even surface to adhere to.

    Since refacing also makes the discs and the drums thinner over time, this will result in the brake system having lesser area to disperse heat that can cause brake fade.

    Thus Aguila believes motorists will eventually have to choose between using more expensive Brembo pads or shoes to spare their vehicle’s discs and drums, or scrimp on pads and shoes that will eventually lead to the need to replace the discs or drums over the long term.

    “You don’t pay for brake pads to last long – you pay [for]the brake discs to last long. Because in any system, one has to wear out faster than the other,” he explained.

    “As far as the brakes pads are concerned, the model range [of Brembo]is quite complete,” Aguila said.

    It was in May 2013 that Brembo was officially launched in the Philippines in the presence of Kenichi Yano, Brembo Performance Asia Pacific Region Manager at Autoperformance PH, also the official distributor of Sabelt racing seats and suits and HRE high-performance rims.

    Autoperformance PH can also replace the braking system of a car, primarily the discs and some piping, with Brembo parts that, however, can come at a steep price (as expected). So Aguila has chosen to concentrate on the mainstream market or the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) market.

    Aguila said it took him several trips out of the country to bag the deal to be the official distributor of Brembo in the Philippines.

    He added that when the representatives of Brembo visited the Philippines to evaluate him and two others vying to distribute the brand in the country, he made sure he was prepared.

    Besides interviewing Aguila, the Brembo representatives visited the ARC Automotive shop and a brand of Aguila glass.

    But Aguila made sure he knew his stuff when the time came for him to make a presentation to the representatives of the Brembo brand.

    “I’m a nerd, I studied it, that’s my love and I mean it,” he said.


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