Dealerfloor spoke to the man in charge of the very successful Hyundai Dealership in the North West mining city of Rustenburg. Hugh Watson is the DP at FNFM Motors (Pty) Ltd Hyundai Rustenburg and recent winner of ABSA’s Golden Partner Award.
It is no small feat being back as an ABSA Golden Partner as retail winner in the Central Region of South Africa. What made the difference in 2019 after not being a Golden Partner for some time?
Success is not built on, but it’s built with partners sharing the same objectives and enthusiasm, for which we salute ABSA’s Bruwer Nel, Heidi and her team from Rustenburg. May we grow from strength to strength in these tough and challenging times.
To achieve success during a declining economy countrywide, and in Rustenburg with the ups and downs of the mining industry and a pandemic, requires special leadership. What is your leadership style, what drives you and what do you focus on?
One needs to surround oneself with people who are willing to change, having the “right attitude” - who want to be “winners”. Yet in today’s world, one needs to be humble and respectful, fair but firm; so lead by example and make sure that the whole team follows.
Sometimes, one needs to look in the rear view mirror to ensure that the team is still keeping up with you in this ever-challenging world of business, to the extent of having to change our behaviours and manner to sustain; and sadly, those who don’t change need to move out of the industry.
How crucial is your team, the manufacturer you represent and then your financing partners?
With COVID-19 and a challenging economy, we had to restructure the entire dealership to sustain and re-grow. Success is built with people - our biggest asset - yet they also need to be constantly uplifted to ensure we seize every opportunity. The support from Hyundai SA and our banking partners has been built on integrity with true friendship of understanding and willingness to make a difference.
Tell us more about your background, your career in the motor trade.
I joined the motor industry in 1983 and enjoyed every moment, having been through the thick and thin and seen the industry change over the years. I have been blessed in that it has allowed me grow and provide a comfortable life style, with the benefits of being invited and seeing a lot of the world and being able to meet a wide variety of people from all industries. Throughout the years, I have had the privilege of being able to work with “guru’s” who have made an impact on my life. My biggest highlights today are being able to uplift people and to give something back to the community or those in need.
Can you tell us more about the dealership, background and ownership?
From a used vehicle stand, we took on the Hyundai franchise in 2003. I joined Hyundai Rustenburg in 2013, coming from German brands all my life. We have never looked back – the Hyundai brand is extremely reliable, good quality and stands proud with its 7-year / 200 000 km warranty and thus the brand just grows from strength to strength.
In 2010 we bought land and built a large model dealership in the upper market area of Rustenburg, next to the main shopping Mall. The new and pre-owned showroom is around 2 200 square meters, which is supported by a service and parts area of similar size. We are an independent dealership, and we do our very best to get involved with the community and being able to give back to the different charities that are in need.
Any expansion plans any time soon?
The motor industry is currently in a difficult spot, new vehicle stock is extremely limited with lockdown all over the world, manufacturing plants closed, and vehicles are not being exported or shipped around the world.
Between now and the end of the year, business is going to get tougher. At the same time, the buying public’s salaries have been reduced, their deferred home bond and credit cards have all come to an end… money is getting tighter and tighter. At this stage, there is no plan to expand, other than rolling up our sleeves and acting swiftly and smartly to every opportunity and managing our expenses.
What are the pros and cons of running an independent dealership these days?
The first half of my motor career was with a large corporate. This has taught me to keep to strict rules and deadlines on our business administration, which is something that many independent dealers do not do. However, having a big daddy behind you is always great when you are in need of that extra cash flow. I do not miss those endless corporate meetings, it’s a lot more fun being actively involved with your staff and it’s more productive.
The last question. How does Hugh Watson relax?
I grew up on a farm in Kenya and Malawi, so farming has always been close to my heart. So when we moved to Rustenburg, we bought a farm just outside of town. Living on a farm has is perks, great life style with two young sons (now all grown up) being able to have space to play, learnt to drive, ride bikes, care for animals and learnt to ride horses and sleep under the stars.
If I am not at the dealership, we are outdoors in the bush, dipping or dehorning cattle or farriering horses and fencing. The list never ends or just socialising or helping friends or organising a gymkhana day, or just being involved in good old fashion “Boere Sport” with a camp fire, a piece of meat on the braai and a cold one in the hand!
It does not take long to realise that the person on the other side of the telephone is a remarkable woman, someone who knows the motor trade by heart and defiantly not a pushover.
There is no substitute for hard work with passion, doing the things you love.
As the most awarded Volvo dealership in South Africa, TCM is the current South African Volvo Car Dealer of The Year as well as Service Dealer of the Year. Their secret? Making sure their focus is on their people.