Ronnie Kessel looks me straight in the eye. “We do not offer services. We offer dreams.”Kessel’s boyish looks are deceptive. Behind them is a man who leads a group company with seventy employees; a person whose life experiences have matured him faster than his peers and someone who has a genuine passion for his work and for realising the dreams of his customers. Shakespeare said, all men are “such stuff as dreams are made on,” and someone’s dreams often tell us more of about their them than their cv. Kessel is a man who intends to realise dreams – for himself and others.
The enthusiasm with which Kessel and his staff explain what they do, and how they do it,is contagious. His vision provides Kessel Group with its strength. It would be difficult to withstand the enormous sacrifices that his business involves if it was not fuelled and supported by such belief and commitment. For a car lover, entering the Kessel factory is like crossing the threshold of a cathedral. It provides the very best that the industry can offer, but above all, when there, you feel the genuine care with which everyone carries out their work. Over all of this hovers the figure of the late Loris Kessel, Ronnie’s unforgettable father, and former F1 driver. He died suddenly in 2010, and Ronnie, just 22, at an age at where most young men are studying and enjoying life, found himself shouldering the a great responsibility of running the company.
The memory of Loris is still tangible to Kessel, who describes him as a sort of spiritual guide. He says: “The early years after my father died were very challenging, but we were able to maintain and grow what he had built thanks to the solidarity and humanity of the people who worked with him. I grew up with these people, 90% of those who worked with my father are still with me. The advantage of our Group is that, despite our numbers and workloads, we remain a family company. Of course we work with prestigious brands which make it more engaging work and encourage us to give our best, but none of this would be possible without the hard work and commitment of everyone here.
” The challenge of maintaining such a high level of excellence is, according to Ronnie, met by integrating people. He explains: “Each person has their own skills, but all realize that the group is a whole and cannot be separated from their individual contribution to each aspect of it.” Kessel Group is unique. It is a giant machine divided into six areas (the racing team, the motorsports industry, car sales, the workshop for racing cars and everyday cars, the restoration of classic cars and renting supercar exclusive). Ronnie explains “Kessel Car has many competitors, Kessel Racing few, we have no rivals to a group as a whole, or to our ability to engage in many fields. The other parts of the company specialise in racing, or car selling. No one else has successfully engaged in all these fields.”
Kessel explains that they’re so successful because, while selling different brands and catering for many different types of customers, everyone at the company “thinks Kessel.” He explains “what unites our clients is passion, but our customers have many different interests. There are the sports racing customers who are naturally linked to Ferrari Maserati, and Pagani, while in Restorations we cater to an audience who prefer elegant and classic cars.” Kessel offers several brands, but unites them all with a single philosophy – that of providing car sector excellence. For example, in brand positioning Kessel offers a full range of cars and in doing so are able to offer all customers the car of their dreams with the highest quality of bodywork, traction and power.
The automotive sector, despite, or perhaps because of, the recent financial crisis, is among the most innovative. What looked like a mature product, often under fire, has recently found new life because of new technology which has provided more environmentally friendly cars to a society that does not want waste. Kessel sees this as a great opportunity for the future: “We should not be afraid of the future in our industry, but thank it for the opportunities it gives us. We have to welcome it in the best way. We can already see an integration of technologies – new materials, electronics – that enable companies to make even better machines, more efficient with lower fuel consumption, more environmentally friendly. And we must not forget that this future is also giving added value to the automotive past. Right now there are major investments in the sector, we are facing a positive situation that is made possible precisely by the awareness of such a promising future. ”
Kessel has no doubts or worries about the next move of the Ferrari brand, which is expected to be listed on the stock exchange soon: “We are very confident that this decision will take the Group forward. We have already seen that with the positioning of the Maserati brand in the premium sector which represented an opportunity for us to provide prestige cars for everyday use. I think Ferrari will be equally successful because the brand has a great future in front of it and a great history behind it. ”
The link between Ferrari and Kessel is longstanding. In addition to the team in charge of the races and the sale of prestigious cars, collaboration is very strong in the restoration of classic cars. These operations are delicate, and are of high-quality industrial architecture, which can be likened to the restoration of ancient books. The quality of restoration reached is such that every car is given a certificate saying it came from the Kessel factory in Maranello. Kessel commits its most experienced employees to this area and safeguard the knowledge and expertise of people who would be in trouble in other areas of the company where new technologies matter more. The work is so detailed that it even creates new components for the cars which are based on original designs. At the end of the restoration, the customer does not have in his hands a “fake”, but a perfectly restored Ferrari original. All work completed is documented step by step and kept in on record. Of course this level of service is not provided by everyone – the number of companies in the world that can make restorations certified Ferrari can be counted on one hand. The classic car sector has here received a big boost from the financial crisis because many investments have been based on “material” such as watches, stamps, coins and just classic cars.
Kessel by numbers
Kessel’s group numbers are impressive:
Twenty-two titles won in the classes they represent in the Ferrari competition. Six divisions of the company (Racing, Event, Car, Service, Classic and Rent). Thirty racing cars involved in five championships for about one hundred thousand kilometers of distance in the race. Six trucks accompanying various leagues for a total of three hundred thousand kilometers. Sixty employees of the group, of which fifty are engaged in the racing department. Forty pilots served, twenty different nationalities. The races are held in more than forty international circuits. Others who have used cars prepared by Kessel are champions MotoGP Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. For the 2015 racing season Kessel has been engaged in the Blancpain Endurance Series, in the European Le Mans Series, the championship Ferrari Challenge, GT Sports Club and Sports Races.