After death of his colleagues on the Ritacuba Blanco peak in Colombia, Krzysztof Oleksowicz quitted climbing and never again reached any other mountain peak. He came back to trading used cars, and later also spare parts.  The latter brought him one billion PLN and thanks to them he established Inter Cars.

Within 20 years Krzysztof Oleksowicz has built a great conglomerate.  His company, Inter Cars, runs distribution of spare parts in 14 markets and is the biggest company of this type in Central and Eastern Europe.  When back in 2004 the company went public on Warsaw Stock Exchange, its share price was PLN 21, and currently it reaches almost PLN 295.  Thanks to creating Inter Cars he became a billionaire himself.

Seasonal work in the United States

In secondary school he was not paying too much attention to learning, listening to Pink Floyds and wearing long hair.  And also because of his long hair, which Krzysztof Oleksowicz did not want to cut, he became a student of Catholic Theology Academy, where against his parents he was studying philosophy.  They were dreaming about their son graduating law or engineering school.  Then he would have a good profession and find a good job.  20-Something year-old-hippie decided to go his own way.

In breaks between semesters he went abroad to work.  He used to wash windows and perform high-altitude works when visiting the States.  – (…) within one day I was earning the same as my parents within one month – said Krzysztof in his interview with autoEXPERT. He soon got used to having money, and realized that after graduation he will not find a well-paid job.

Up the mountains

So when he got back to the country, he got a job as a car mechanic.  He got some experience and soon after left the country again, this time to Germany.  There, like in Poland, he was repairing cars, and also started trading them.  Newsweek wrote that thanks to saved 5k dollars Krzysztof Oleksowicz bought abroad a used car, which later he sold with profit in Poland.

Next martial law came, the borders were closed and Krzysztof did not get a passport.  As a result he could not leave Poland to keep earning money.  Luckily in 1982 he met a mountain climber Wanda Rutkiewicz, who at that time was organizing a female excursion to K2 and needed to get to Austria, in order to buy and prepare climbing equipment. - I had all the qualifications: I knew the language, I had a car and international links - Oleksowicz said to Forbes. Thanks to this he got the position of a driver of the Alps climbing excursions.

No-one invited him to climb

Newsweek wrote that the excursions he organized were always successful for the climbers, but also financially successful for Krzysztof, as in the meantime he was trading used cars. But till 1986 he was not climbing himself, until his colleges asked him for the reason.  - I told them: „Because no one has invited me”. „So you are invite to the sixth mountain in the world”- he recalls.

But he did not get to the peak of Cho-Oyo, as he stopped at the level of 7,800 metres. He explains not being prepared for the climbing excursion and being afraid of frost-bite of his feet.  Despite that, two years later, he put on again crampons on his shoes, and with two colleagues reached Ritacuba Blanco in Colombia.  During the way up, they got under an avalanche and his two colleagues fell down 500 metres and died.

Himalayas or business

His colleagues tried to talk him into another excursion.  But he did not decide for it.  He realized that trying to reach mountain peaks is too much dangerous and also, after getting back to the country, he started trading used cars again.  - You can either go for one month in the Himalayas, or run a company - he says.  Oleksowicz decided to go for the second one, taking into consideration, that „in Poland a favourable climate for business has just started”.

Two years after the excursion to Ritacuba Blanco in Colombia, Krzysztof learned that selling automotive spare parts can be much more profitable than selling used cars.  At that moment he took a trade credit and launched Inter Cars.  At the same time he started distribution of spare parts to some of our Eastern neighbours.  He did not choose the West, as the market was saturated there.  But the Central and Eastern Europe was different, where the number of cars per capita was not large.

Billion PLN turnover

Oleksowicz thought at that time, that soon in this part of Europe there will be more and more cars and the demand for spare parts for repairs will be growing as well. - For us the worst market would be Switzerland, where the GDP per capita is so high, that most citizens can afford buying new cars. Because of this the demand for spare parts is much smaller - he added.

But not only were the prospective markets to guarantee success of the company in a very near future.  Strategy of development was also important, as the vision of the founder of Inter Cars.  Krzysztof Oleksowicz assumed that his company, in relatively short time will reach the turnover of one billion zlotys, and will be the biggest company of this type in our region. Additionally he planned to base the business on a flexible franchise system of distribution.

Franchisees earn more than the Board

In previous times it was quite a new business model, and competitors used their own chain of shops for selling spare parts.  But with Inter Cars it was to be differently.  Indeed, Oleksowiczow created such a chain which works well not only in Poland, but also in other countries. The numbers speak for themselves: in Poland there are 200 branches of Inter Cars, and worldwide there are 191. - In Central Europe we are running business activities in 14 countries from the Baltic to the Balkans- he says.

But the franchise system is also favourable for the franchisees.  In an interview with Puls Biznesu, Oleksowicz told the magazine, that owners of branches earn more than Members of the Management Board.  For them, there is not upper limit of remuneration.  If they are good they can earn as much as PLN 2m per annum, and the more they earn, the more Inter Cars earns.

Share price going up

But not everywhere the company creates brick and mortar shops.  In the West it operates differently.  In Germany it has launched an e-shop, which after just half a year generated a monthly turnover of EUR 200k.  Called Motointegrator, the e-shop is also present in Poland, Czech and Slovakia.  Not only can the customers buy spare parts for their vehicles, but they can also make an appointment to replace those parts in one of Inter Cars chain garages.

Launching the e-commerce system was a natural way of development for the company.  But one of milestones for the company was going public in 2004 on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. At that time one could buy shares for PLN 21, today their value reaches almost PLN 295.  Another milestone, which took place four years after going public at WSE, was takeover of Inter Cars competitor, JC Auto.

I do not live like a rentier

Two years later Krzysztof Oleksowicz stepped down from the position of Chief Executive Officer of the company.  He does not deal with administrative work of the company, does not represent it and comes less often to it.  He explained to Onet, that he is focussed on selected distribution projects and still tries to be in touch with Customers.  He feels complete as an entrepreneur and does not intend to live like a rentier.