Fer­rari chief’s magic boy­hood mo­ment

Pranc­ing Horse­power Se­duced by the rasp of a Fer­rari V12 pow­er­plant at the age of 12, Her­bert Ap­pleroth is now the cus­to­dian for the Ital­ian brand in Aus­tralia

The Australian - The Deal - - Front Page - Story by: Glenda Korporaal

HER­BERT Ap­pleroth can still re­mem­ber when he heard the roar of his first Fer­rari. “I was 12 years of age play­ing golf with my fa­ther when I heard this car,” says Ap­pleroth who is now chief ex­ec­u­tive of both Fer­rari Aus­trala­sia and Fer­rari Ja­pan.

When he found out what it was he told his fa­ther he would one day buy one. “He said: ‘If you work hard, one day you will’. I was lucky enough to pur­chase my first Fer­rari when I was 25. And now I am run­ning the brand.”

Now 41, Ap­pleroth says he comes from a “long line of car fa­nat­ics.” His great grand­fa­ther, Bert Ap­pleroth, was a Sydney tram con­duc­tor who founded a busi­ness in 1917 that be­came known as Aero­plane Jelly. Bert Ap­pleroth’s love of planes in­spired him to choose the name for the brand of jelly crys­tals.

Ap­pleroth grew up in Sydney and went to Bond Univer­sity on the Gold Coast be­fore his pas­sion for cars saw him work in the car in­dus­try. He worked for Volk­swa­gen and Audi and then joined Maserati. His suc­cess with Maserati in Aus­tralia saw him pro­moted to global mar­ket­ing direc­tor based in Maserati’s head­quar­ters in Italy.

He moved Ja­pan in 2010 to over­see the mar­ket­ing of Fer­rari which, like Maserati, is also owned by the Fiat group. He moved back to Aus­tralia last year but, for the mo­ment at least, over­sees the Fer­rari busi­ness in the two coun­tries. When he ar­rived in Tokyo, Ja­pan was the sixth largest mar­ket for Fer­rari and now it is the sec­ond, sell­ing around 500 of the lux­ury cars a year. The Aus­tralian mar­ket is much smaller, but rel­a­tive to the size of the pop­u­la­tion, is it is do­ing well here.

“If you take a five-year av­er­age, we de­liver around 120 cars (to Aus­tralia) a year,” says Ap­pleroth. As part of its lux­ury brand mys­tique, Fer­rari de­lib­er­ately re­stricts the sup­ply of its prod­ucts in each mar­ket. “It is al­ways the Fer­rari tra­di­tion that we de­liver at least one less than the de­mand.”

Ap­pleroth says he can’t talk about Fer­rari’s clients in Aus­tralia but Lin­fox founder Lind­say Fox is re­ported to be a Fer­rari lover as is for­mer Coca-Cola Amatil chief Dean Wills.

He says Ja­panese buy­ers opt for more top of the range mod­els while Aus­tralia’s lux­ury car tax makes the top-end cars very ex­pen­sive. “Aus­tralian cus­tomers re­ally think a lot more about the pur­chase of lux­ury goods than in Ja­pan,” Ap­pleroth says.

For would-be Fer­rari own­ers, he is over­see­ing the ar­rival of the new Cal­i­for­nia T this year. It has a re­tractable hard­top and a tur­bocharged V8 en­gine – and an “en­try level” price of around $410,000. He says the Cal­i­for­nia T ap­peals to a slightly younger buyer in Aus­tralia – about 45 com­pared to the av­er­age age of 48 for other Fer­raris – and has at­tracted first time buy­ers. “It re­ally is a ver­sa­tile car. You can drive it to a beau­ti­ful moun­tain lake – or the su­per­mar­ket.”

Well, maybe.

Fer­rari Aus­trala­sia’s Her­bert Ap­pleroth, above, is over­see­ing the launch of the Cal­i­for­nia T at the ‘en­try-level’ price of around $ 410,000

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