In Ladybrand, Ficksburg and De Aar, the local Toyota dealerships are owned by the agricultural co-op, which makes them an intimate part of their local communities.
The three Toyota dealers belong to the OVK (Oos-Vrystaat Kaap Beperk), which is run by its shareholders or co-owners that are predominantly farmers from the local community.
The head office of "the OVK" as it is generally known, is in the town of Ladybrand in the Eastern Free State. From here it delivers diverse services to different farming communities in the Eastern Free State, Eastern Cape, South- and Western Cape as well is in the Northern Cape.
Dealerfloor asked the Manager of Mechanisation and Vehicles at the OVK, Willie Dietrechsen, a couple of questions on how selling cars are part of their business model.
What are the advantages for a business like the OVK to own retail car outlets?
“Our biggest client base is farmers. They are also co-owners of the business with the advantages of buying from their own business. They receive shares via a loyalty scheme every time they support the business.
“Another huge advantage we have, is the financing options on vehicles which are part of the total financing package of OVK Financial Services,” he told Dealerfloor. This could give a competitive edge in many instances over the bigger retail groups that might offer a price advantage on vehicles because of larger stock volumes.”
How has the local economy in each town affect business?
“From the announcement of the lockdown the market fluctuated quite a lot. The impact will be felt far longer than just 2020. The fact that a lot of our clients live and work in neighbouring Lesotho which is close to our dealerships in Ficksburg and Ladybrand, delivering products and rendering services were very difficult with the border been closed,” Willie says.
And being in the farming business and selling Toyotas, it come as no surprise that all three dealerships’ best-selling models are the Hilux, Land Cruiser and Fortuner.
How extensive is the dealerships involvement with their local communities?
“It is very important for all three dealerships to support their local communities. They are based in smaller communities that makes it so much more important and participate in various initiatives with different entities.
“The safety and security of the rural community is of high importance to us and all three dealerships are involved in this important effort through organised agriculture institutions like Vrystaat Landbou,” Willie says.
The three Dealer Principals, are Darius Steyn that is part of Ficksburg Toyota since 2016 and working for Toyota since 2003; Marnitz Nienaber switch over from the coast at Vredendal to De Aar in the Karoo and in Ladybrand, Barnie de Villiers, has recently been appointed as DP of Ladybrand Toyota.
Despite the severe drought in large parts of the Karoo, the motor business in Graaff-Reinet is stepping up with more brands being represented in this part of the world.
If a pandemic and stock issues aren’t enough of a challenge, why not add a building project/dealership revamp/moving of facilities and getting a second dealership to full independent dealership status to a DP’s list of tasks.
Scott Auto Mazda in Bethlehem has a proud history that stretches back nearly 50 years, which makes them one of the best-known Mazda dealers in the Free State.