Eugene Potapov | Provide Cars


Expert in finding vehicles for customers, fixing their problems and probably needs a little more rest!

Contact Eugene: [email protected]

In the beginning …

Eugene’s passion for cars developed while studying in Far Eastern State Maritime Academy (FESMA now), back in the 80’s it was Far Eastern Maritime College in the city of Vladivostok, Russia Far East..  End of 1980’s and the beginning of the 1990’s the city of Vladivostok became a major hub for used car imports to all of Russia from east to west.  His first car was a 1.8ST EFI Toyota Celica with a 5 speed manual gear box and retractable head lights (top option those days).

A move to NZ to study …

In early 1990’s he moved to New Zealand, and his love for Japanese cars didn’t stop, rather than driving popular big thirsty Australian Holden Commodores he got himself behind a 1991 B20A 2.0L Honda Prelude

From 1997 to 1999 he was flat out studying the Japanese language at Auckland UNITEC. From year 2000 he started work in Japan.

Start at Provide Cars …

Eugene started his sales work for Provide Cars back in 2005.  His fluency in Russian, English and Japanese as well has his hard work ethic made him very successful as a sales staff at Provide Cars.  He not only learned the ins and outs of buying good cars in the auctions but he also involved himself with the shipping, the loading of cars into containers as well as many other aspects and complications of the whole used car export business.
My involvement in other aspects of the used cars export not just sales can be good point for those who wanted to deal with pro.

When he is not working …

Eugene knows the value of family, even above a stable job and is totally committed to his wife and young daughter Ana.  This year (2012) is her first year at primary school and everyone in Provide Cars is standing back in great anticipation of the wonderful impact she will have on her school and the friends she will make around her.

Eugene’s other passions are F1 racing (I mean what a cars really for?), as well as putting a nylon line over the back of a boat and hoping something fishy will happen, (fishing!!) although because the auctions rarely have a holiday his chances of doing this passion is limited.

Chikara Imashioya | Provide Cars


This gentle English fluent father of 4 won’t think twice about doing overtime to make sure a problem or job is fixed before heading home each day. Often the last one out of the office.

In the beginning …

Chikara was born and raised in Japan, in the Osaka, Higashi Osaka.  He never imagined going overseas, let alone living a major part of his life overseas.  After he graduated from Shijonawate Kita High School he headed overseas to study bible and music in Portland Oregon USA.

A chance to study overseas …

The degree was 4 years long and 2 years of theology.  He met his future wife, Sarah in his 3rd year.  When he was 21 he got married to his girlfriend of 2 and a half years.  Once they had graduated they stayed on in the States for another 4 years, acting as a teacher in the school.  They then decided to come back to Japan, and more specifically, Osaka Japan.

Back into “Japanese reality” …

When Chikara first came back to Japan he worked in an import business in Kyoto.  This involved the import of vegetables and fruit.  This involved trips to Australia and Europe and also trading with customers from the Philippines (bananas and mangos), Mexico (avocados and squash) and America (brocolli, celory and citrus fruits). However, to a degree this ate into family time.  Japanese company hours are not like foreign company working hours!

Time for “cars and trucks” …

Chikara first came to work for Provide Cars in 2004. The learning curve about cars in the beginning was step.  He remembers training himself on the models of cars in the car parks when going on outings with his family.  Chikara has spent many, many hours translating auction sheets for customers.  He is also a great trouble shooter, finding solutions to problems when they occur, squeezing an extra car into a container, whatever the need there is.  He has now cut one day a week off his commitment to Provide Cars, allowing him more time for his other passions:

When he is not working …

When not working at Provide Cars he likes to spend time with his family. Four young daughters keep a man busy!  He also loves to pour his time into song leading and the youth in his Church that he attends.  Both he and his wife Sarah are very talented musicians and have produced songs together, regularly translating English worship songs into Japanese.

Takako French – A Biography


Takako likes to take time to spend on crafts and spinning, not exactly related to cars! Occasionally I can identify a Toyota (by its badge), but beyond that I get lost on all those names. I do like spending time on accounts, and I love to throw my head into a set of pages until I see figures balance!

Takako was born and raised in Higashi Osaka, Japan.  She is the eldest of 5 children.   She studied at Yale Business College in Osaka.  After graduating from here she spent 3 years working for a fishing magazine company, before going off to America for a year of study.  After coming back to Japan, she started a community newspaper for the Filipino community in Japan, called Pinoy.  This is where she first met her future husband, Jon French, who helped in the production of the newspaper.

When her husband started Provide Cars in 1997, she spent long hours arranging shipping, paying dealers and auctions, arranging transportation and learning the whole ropes of exporting used cars from Japan.  What she learnt of the process, she passed onto new staff as the company grew.

Her main role now is overlooking the Japanese staff and the accounts side of the company.

Jon French – A Biography


Jon likes to lead from the rear. He believes an atmosphere of freedom in the workplace creates the healthiest environment for work. Staff need to be free to make their own decisions, as long as the end goal of serving the customer to the best of our ability remains.

In the beginning …

Jon, born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand in the same house in a suburb called Titirangi, the last town you pass through to the now popular surf beach near Auckland, Piha.  When it came to a high school, he and his parents chose one on the far side of this vast city, so they decided upon him attending boarding school.  During his 4 year stay at boarding school he learnt the skills of living and studying together with the full range of personalities that a large boarding school brings.  After getting his driving licence at the age of 15, his last year of school was spent driving one and a half hours each way to his school on the other side of town in a Ford Anglia, his first introduction to cars.  The car below is not the actual car, but it is an Anglia.


University days …

After graduating from St Kentigern High School in Auckland it was down to Christchurch to do a degree in Horticultural Science as well as teaching qualifications for New Zealand high schools.  On top of that he took TEFL qualifications in Australia for teaching English as a foreign language in places like Japan.  In his second year at university the Ford Anglia was written off (by Jon) in an accident.  It was then replaced by an even older Morris Minor that had an “automatic opening passenger door”  that opened by itself when turning right.  The below car is a similar car with the split windscreen.


Onto Japan …

The best place in the world for teaching English in 1990 was Japan, so Jon left the modest shores of New Zealand and started his teaching life in Osaka, Japan.  On his trip to Japan, as well as returning to New Zealand on holidays, he noticed most of the other passengers were car dealers and private New Zealand citizens gong to Japan to buy cars.  Even the hosts and hostesses on the planes were buying cars from Japan.  This must have been a good market to create such interest.

The first international trade …

After teaching for 5 years Jon began to get restless to do something a little more challenging.  Now married to his wife Takako and with 2 young daughters in tow, he embarked on “importing” a classical car, a Morris Mini, from New Zealand to Japan in partnership with another New Zealand teacher friend.  They made the mistake of repainting the car in New Zealand into a different colour (British racing green), thinking that would be more popular (rule one of classical cars “ORIGINALITY” reigns).  Now came the first experience with trade.  A “bill of lading” was sent to him in Japan to clear the vehicle.  At first he thought they had made a mistake with the wording, surely it should be a “bill of LOADING“?

They were ripe rookies ready for harvest.   One “kind” company offered to clear the car through customs and give the car a “pre-registration status” so that it could be driven.  250,000yen later (real commission should have been 50,000yen) the car was on the road with a number plate and a driver (Jon himself).  It was a simple one hour drive, mid-Japanese summer.  Road temperatures around 55°C and a 1966 Morris Mini does not have an air conditioner, just a natural heater coming from the engine.  At the traffic lights he would jump out of the car trying to cool down.  A very long story cut, the car was eventually sold at cost to a dealer who looked at it in the night and expressed his dismay that it had been repainted a different colour.  The car below was probably an original British racing green, but with a repaint, it looked just like it.


Now into some real international trading …

Soon after this experience, a small dealer in Wellington, New Zealand, contacted Jon and expressed a desire for someone to “purchase cars from the auction” for him.  Jon contacted a dealer with memberships in the Kansai area auctions and Provide Cars Ltd started.  So did the huge learning curve about cars.  Little did he know that under the back seat of a 1990 Nissan Terano would be rust.  Little did he know that a 2.4L Toyota hilux surf was a bad engine had it not been serviced, nor that a manual turbo 2.0 litre skyline would be so expensive.   Add onto this the learning curve in documentation for export.  The learning curve in documentation for deregistering a car for export.  The endless paperwork and guarantors needed for membership in the auctions.  Still, the curves were learnt and the mid-1990’s was the boom time for exporters, as people from around the world flocked to Japan to buy up these cheap cars, SUVs and trucks that the Japanese economy was churning out.  The Irish market was booming, the English market was opening, the New Zealand market was growing, the Australian market had loop holes in it to allow vehicles in, Cyprus, Africa!

There must be a better way to do this …

As Jon became familiar with the vehicles he was purchasing and the whole export process, he began to realize short falls in the way he was operating.  He was limited to the number of vehicles he could view for his customers.  A customer would be requesting a Toyota Landcruiser in a certain colour and condition, for example, but it was just not available in the auctions he was visiting.  It WAS however, available at auctions elsewhere in Japan.  By only covering a small percentage of the vehicles available each day in Japan, he was doing his customers a disservice.  And Japan is all about service.  Through the brilliance of a very talented programmer, a homepage was developed that began to make available, every vehicle on sale in the Japanese car auctions each day.  From there the company grew.

Outside of Provide time …

Jon likes to spend his spare time with family of 4 children and wife.  Doing something in nature is what he likes the most.  Whether it be swimming or diving around beaches.  Tramping or walking through the endless New Zealand walking tracks.   But some of the Japanese culture has brushed off into his play.  There is nothing more satisfying at the end of a hard day than going to a Japanese hot bath, and eating a healthy Japanese meal!