DAF ready to spread its wings

A promising future awaits the Dutch truck manufacturer, DAF in South Africa, especially with the establishment of a local assembly plant within two years.

Marius Barnard 1

This is according to the newly appointed Managing Director, Marius Barnard, who took over the reign at Babcock’s Transport Solutions business.

Dealerfloor spoke to him about the challenges with the DAF brand, but first a short overview of his career that include 20 years in the retail space and 6 years in transport solutions.

Marius is no stranger to the commercial vehicles industry. He started in 1994 at the Barloworld Group, first as a Sales Executive for Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars. He then moved over to the manufacturer’s commercial vehicles as a MB Transport Consultant and held different managing positions in Sales, Service and Customer Management.

He was appointed Dealer Principal and General Manager at Garden City Commercials in Pietermaritzburg for the MB Trucks and Vans, Freightliner, Fuso and Western Star. Under his management the dealership won five consecutive Dealer of the Year Awards, over 20 category awards and Marius were awarded the much sought-after Chairman’s Award. He also served 20 years as the Chairman of The National Dealer Council of Mercedes-Benz South Africa.

In 2014 he joined Barloworld Transport (which operates 1 400 commercial vehicles and 1 800 trailers at 38 depots) as a Fleet Executive. Marius led his team into developing a Commercial Vehicle leasing business within Barloworld’s AVIS Fleet division.

Marius Barnard, the new Managing Director of DAF in South Africa.

We asked Marius about the seemingly underperformance of the famous DAF brand in South Africa while elsewhere in the world, mainly in Europe, it is doing very well. Monthly Naamsa sales figures for new vehicles show that DAF have an uphill battle against most of the other players in this sector with new unit sales lagging substantially behind those of the competitors in South Africa.

“DAF SA had different owners over the years and locally some internal challenges. We need to correct this and change the market’s perception of the brand. My task will be to turn the ship around. We must bring credibility back to the brand. I believe we will be able to do that through consistent customer service, aligning all our processes and looking at our internal structures and in a broader sense, our national customer support processes.

“We have three independently owned dealerships in Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Klerksdorp and four fully fledged dealerships owned by us with the supply chain supported from our head office.

According to Marius there is another 23 service agents for parts, servicing, and warranty repairs. “Our aim is to establish modern services facilities in the urban centres, not just for trucks but also very importantly for trailers. We will be working hard to establish bigger and better equipped service agents in the larger SADC region. We also need a larger parts inventory at the point of requirement,” he told Dealerfloor.

He also says a new head office for Babcock Transport of which DAF is an integral part, will be built at a new venue in Johannesburg next year and will include a state-of the art dealership and parts distribution centre.

Asked about the future and the forthcoming legislation on the “Right to Repair”, he said there are many variables that need to be taken cognisance of. “The Right to Repair legislation will have an influence as to how dealerships will operate. The establishment of chains of service centres would have an influence on the business and the whole supply chain except for the selling of new vehicles.

“It is not necessary a bad thing but an opportunity also for our services agents. The challenge is to assist truck owners not to take unnecessary risks when servicing elsewhere and using different parts.”

Marius says the used truck business is vital and plays a big role to assist new vehicle sales. “The aim is to maintain the vehicle in such a way that it has second-life value. Managed maintenance creates used vehicle credibility and with extended warranties and finance options could see a competitive cost of ownership for the new owner and benefit the previous owner at the trade-in process.”

On a lighter note we asked the Welkom-born Marius about his hobbies when not trucking.

“I collect legs,” he told Dealerfloor with a slight laugh in his voice. “I lost my one leg in a motorcycle accident in 2003. Since then I went through a couple of legs and have seven artificial legs now”, he says.

But that has never hold him back and he enjoys deep see fishing, plays golf (not often), and spend time with his wife and two daughters and socialising with friends.

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