Until next Wednesday, cars will be tampered with in Garage Hendrickx in Mechelen. So after more than 30 years, the sign at the entrance on Battelsesteenweg disappears. “I sold the whole building to continue my business in a small building on Antwerpsesteenweg. I choose a future in the technology of connected cars, self-driving and electric vehicles, ”says Steven Brocken (40), the current manager of Garage Hendrickx.
Leo de Nijn
Steven Brocken was barely 16 when he took his internship with René Hendrickx in the garage of the same name on Battelsesteenweg. Two years later, he started working there on a regular basis. In 2011, he took over the business from René to complete the Seat franchise four years later. Next week, Mechelaar draws a line over Garage Hendrickx to embark on a completely different course.
“We did not take ice overnight. We have been diving into a completely different technology for several years now. The automotive industry is at a turning point in terms of powertrains and more. We have already mastered software adjustments, updates, calibrations of cameras and radars”, says the enthusiastic technician.
“You will not hear me say that we all drive electrically within 5 years. But I am aware that the economy will be different and that many will drive less. The more people will soon be driving electric or hybrid, the less traditional maintenance will be required on a car. It certainly played a role in going in a different direction now, ”says Steven.
“No matter how you look at it, driving has become an expensive business. For many, the car is 95% stationary. Leasing then becomes an option. This means that there will also be work from leasing companies or experts. Cars will become more and more complex with built-in technologies that will be programmed. We already have about 800 customers we work for. Even harms companies from the coastal region. I want to make it my business when I’m 40. ”
Brocken does not need the 3,600 square meter showroom with garage, a 340 square meter apartment and a 100 square meter terrace for its new future plans. “I sold the property to AUGUSTUS BV, a company within solar panels, air conditioning and home batteries from Leest. The manager is struggling with lack of space in his village and may settle here next summer. I myself bought a 210 square meter building on the Antwerpsesteenweg in Mechelen, on the Dockx Rental site. We will only work for workshops and body workshops and experts from insurance and legal experts. We do not need much space for that, “explains Steven.
For customers, it stops next week. “But I will stay here with my diagnostic technicians on board for a while until we move to October. The transition to our new business has been underway for several years. We have invested around EUR 300,000 in connected car technology for all brands. In 2017, I also obtained my diploma in collision data, the so-called black box, which will be mandatory in all new cars by the end of this year. My two colleagues, who with me change to Antwerpsesteenweg, also undergo regular further education ”.
Choose a new company name
Steven Brocken’s car technology company will also be renamed. “We’re thinking about it. But continuing with Garage Hendrickx in our logo would not be good either. We still have time. To be clear: the Hendrickx towing service by colleague Kurt Van Kerckhoven has nothing to do with stopping the business here and will continue to work from Mechelen-Nord.
In recent days, Steven has written to his clientele that they are stopping all activities. “We have recommended colleagues in the neighborhood where they can turn to to maintain their vehicle from now on,” Brocken concludes.