The story of Hungary’s largest car parts provider began with electric mosquito repellents. Antal Zombori, a mechanical engineer freshly graduated at the beginning of the nineties, could not find a proper job, so he settled at his uncle’s company, which was dealing with these gadgets. He was assigned to do sales tasks, in which he had no prior experience, but he gave it a shot. He packed the mosquito repellents in his Zhiguli, drove to the Sugár mall and sold two cartons of the product to the first merchant. In five minutes he earned the amount equal to his six-month wage as a mechanical engineer. That was the moment when he decided that he wanted to deal with trade.
The business thrived until September, but late summer days killed the bloodsuckers so that repellents were no longer needed. They needed to change. ‘I have always liked cars, I loved tweaking my Zhiguli and that is where the idea came from. So I asked myself: What if I started selling car parts instead of mosquito repellents?’
Unix literally started out in a garage: the “office” was in Zombori’s flat, while his garage was used as a “warehouse”. Business was going quite well, so he had to employ the first worker, soon followed by the second one as the number of orders were growing and growing. The founder was dealing with procurements by that time. ‘The first milestones were largely due to the fact that we had found something in short supply. In this period the country was full of spare parts for two-stroke engine cars, but hardly any supplies were available for fourstroke engine Trabants and Wartburgs,’ recalls Antal Zombori. The entrepreneur’s parents lived in Germany, so he called his father, asking him to see about how he could get the products so sought after in Hungary. This is how the first agreements were born with foreign suppliers, thus making UNIX a solely incumbent firm on the market of car parts for four-stroke engine cars.
Two or three years later the roughly 20 employees of the company were running hundreds of service points everywhere in the country. In 1993 they bought a lot in the 13th district, which was formerly used by a bread factory, and to this day, it serves as the headquarter of the company. However, in the mid-nineties it was already visible that the chosen segment has reached its expansion capabilities. Therefore, the founder, driven by a sudden thought, travelled to Frankfurt to visit the Motor Show and struck a deal with some of the car parts manufacturers already active in Hungary.
The expansion of supplies gave a nice boost to the company but more importantly, UNIX was the first to introduce an electronic ordering system to the sector. At a trade fair in 1994, they displayed a solution, not yet web-based, but utilising telephone modems, which was considered a major breakthrough at the time of large-format printed catalogues. This new ordering sys tem made it so easy for the services, that they chose UNIX en masse over the competition.
Keeping in line with consumer needs, this was the time when the company started to establish its network of branches throughout the countryside, which they expanded to Romania (in 1999) and which counts up to 130 units today. This dynamic growth could have been interrupted by the financial crisis in 2008, had UNIX reacted to it the way all the other players in the sector did. That is to say, car parts dealers typically reacted carefully and chose a more cautious business policy considering the financial setbacks. UNIX, however, chose another path. The company, at the peak of the crisis in 2009, decided to start an investment worth 2 billion forints, and built its new logistics centre in the 9th district on Timót street. Quite similarly to their former practices, they ventured all this without any support, by taking a loan, in a period when the conditions were not quite favourable to say the least. Besides, they developed their car fleet, increased the number of deliveries and broadened their range of products.
The anticipations of Antal Zombori proved right, yet again. As a result of the crisis, Hungarian car owners chose less expensive, independent services instead of the official brand services, thus increasing the customer base of UNIX eventually. Due to these developments, the company could offer a higher standard of services compared to the somewhat reclusive competitors, and has produced an immense growth in recent years. Its domestic market share has doubled its precrisis level of 20 percent, and its revenue has increased from 10 billion forints in 2008 to 50 billion forints by 2015.