When did your Subaru adventure start? If you’re like Kenneth at Subaru Belux, it started the moment you were born. Join him as he talks about growing up with Subaru.
Growing up with Subaru
I work as Technical Specialist at Subaru Belux, and when I introduce myself to Subaru dealers and customers, I like to say I’m 26 years old with over 20 years of experience with Subaru. I guess there’s not many people who can say they were practically born in a Subaru, but it’s true for me!
My parents and grandparents definitely inspired my passion for cars and for Subaru. They had a garage, including a Subaru dealership, so I grew up surrounded by all these wonderful cars. I remember, when I was 7 or 8, I would walk around the dealership holding a Subaru catalogue and ask customers about their dream Subaru while they were waiting to collect their car from the garage. I’m not a salesman, but I’ve always found Subaru cars to be great and I wanted to share that with everyone I met.
So you can imagine, when I grew up, deciding what to study was an easy choice.
Subaru is a shared family passion.
A shared passion
Actually, Subaru is a shared family passion. Everyone in my family – my grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, cousins – and a lot of our friends drive Subaru. I think, between the family, we have over 30 different Subaru models, and each of them has special memories.
Our oldest model is a right-hand drive 1972 Subaru Rex. It was one of five Rexs imported into the Benelux from Japan to test interest in the market and its story is quite special. It literally fell off the boat onto an oil barrel and was badly damaged. My father fixed it, but kept a lot of the damaged parts, including the bent bumper, as they’re part of the car’s story. It was his first car and still means a lot to him. He still has it and restoring it is definitely amongst his future plans.
A 'now or never' opportunity.
I always wanted to work in the automotive sector, preferably for Subaru. I got really excited when I was accepted for internships at Subaru Europe and a Subaru dealership. These were precious experiences – and they made me even more passionate about working for Subaru.
When I graduated, I looked for vacancies at Subaru, but there weren’t any jobs available at the time, so I started to work at another car company. A couple of years later I heard that there was a vacancy for a Technical Specialist at Subaru Belux. I knew it was a ‘now or never’ opportunity. So I jumped at the chance and applied to the job. I couldn't believe myself when they returned to me with a favourable answer. It was perfect for me.
What do I do? What I’ve always dreamt of doing! There are a lot of different aspects to my job, but the main one is to provide technical support to dealers and customers. I also train the Subaru technicians in Belux and give technical presentations to the media and customers at local events.
One of my favourite roles is preparing the cars for the Brussels Motor Show. I love the pressure of ensuring the cars are perfect in every way. It feels really rewarding to see them all nicely displayed on the booth and admired by the visitors.
I’m also a flying doctor. Not a real, medical doctor, but a Subaru one. I help to diagnose issues and provide technical support on the fly for dealers and customers over the phone.
I enjoy working closely with dealers and customers, helping them when they need it.
Being able to hear feedback about Subaru cars from our dealers and customers inspires and motivates me to keep on learning. Of course, there are challenging moments, but it’s part of the job. When I leave the office at the end of the day, I hope I’ve put a smile on a customer’s face by getting his/her Subaru fixed. Their appreciation is extremely satisfying.
Besides working for Subaru in Belgium, one of my other dreams was to visit Subaru in Japan, and I did that last year for a training. It was a fantastic experience to be at the training centre and get to learn more about Subaru technology directly from the Japanese engineers. I still dream about visiting the Subaru factory one day.
My Subaru cars
From my first car to my latest car, Subaru has always been my first choice. Actually, there was never a question on choosing a different car. I’ve always loved Subaru.
How can you tell? Well, in Belgium when children are around 12 years old, they often do their second communion and have a series of photos taken in a beautiful location to celebrate. My beautiful location was a Subaru garage surrounded by wonderful Subaru cars! It looked great!
And, it’s not just the Subaru cars that look great – Subaru bikes are also fantastic as I happily discovered at my second communion when I received one as a gift. It was my main transportation right up to the day I got my driving licence.
Rally driving is another family passion. Before Subaru officially started doing rallies, my Dad was already out there! He used to race in a Subaru station wagon, and the announcers would sometimes shout out “Attention, Attention, Service Car” when they saw him. They really didn’t expect to see station wagons on the course! He did rally driving from the 1980s to 2007.
At Francorchamps with friends.
I started rally driving last year at an amateur level. It’s actually a family hobby. I did my first rally with my Dad’s first co-pilot and I now drive with my Dad’s last co-pilot in his old rally car, a 96 Impreza Turbo, Rally Blue colour, of course.
I’m collecting parts to build my own rally car – based on the 95 Legacy. I’m going to make a replica of Subaru’s first rally car, modified to my own preferences.
To be honest, I find the journey of getting the car ready for the rally precious – and driving is really fun!