Any bike enthusiast worth his or her salt will know the Suzuki Hyabusa, the brand’s fire-breathing superbike-cum-tourer.
Many of these enthusiasts, especially those who own a ‘Busa or have ordered the new Gen 3 model, will know Jaco Viviers at Suzuki Richards Bay. Jaco is the Dealer Principal and owner of this specialist Suzuki bike shop, which sold five new Hyabusas even before the model landed in SA.
“For the past 15-odd years, we have only sold Suzuki bikes. We are completely invested in the brand and have a passion for all the models. I believe this is what attracts customers to our shop in Richards Bay,” says Jaco.
A passion for Suzuki motorcycles runs deep in the Viviers bloodline. Jaco’s father, Peet, is a stalwart in the bike-world and the owner of Bike Centre Suzuki in Potchefstroom. This is where Jaco cut his teeth in the bike world and where he qualified as one of the youngest bike technicians in the network at the age of 21 in 1996.
“I work on the bikes myself and since we have only worked on Suzuki for the past decade-and-a-half, there is not a bolt or nut that I cannot pick from the shelf without having to look it up on the system,” says Jaco.
The road from Potchefstroom to Richards Bay was not a straight one. Aside from qualifying as a motorcycle mechanic, Jaco also completed his training as a building inspector. It was this profession that lured him to the North Coast.
“Shortly after my wife and I landed in Richards Bay, we saw Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki open up in town. I decided to keep an eye on the market and in 2007 I told my wife that I was going to set up a Suzuki Motorcycle dealership in town.”
His new shop started well, but in 2008 the economic recession hit them, and everyone else in town, hard.
“We decided to stay positive and work hard on our shop and on servicing our customers. At least I was not used to selling big numbers by that time, like some of the other dealerships, so in a sense I was a bit more resilient to the downturn than they were.”
Jaco says that this tough time helped him and his wife Belinda, who works alongside him (and is his main source of energy) in the shop, to really sharpen their marketing skills and customer service. This has been their main calling card ever since.
“We see customers travel from as far afield as Cape Town and Nelspruit to pick up their bike in Richards Bay. All customers, whether they buy a scooter or Hayabusa, get the same treatment and all leave our shop with a T-shirt, a photo-opportunity, and a small gift hamper. It makes all the difference,” says Jaco.
Today, Suzuki Richards Bay sees their market split evenly between commercial and leisure or sports bikes. The town remains the hub of many industries in Natal, and commercial bikes have picked up thanks to a renewed interest in home deliveries and take-out food.
While the commercial bikes are sold, and serviced, with the focus on cost and quick turnaround times, Jaco says that the leisure and sport bike owners appreciate the in-depth knowledge of the bike and the in-house Dynojet service.
“Many customers will make the trip to Richards Bay on a Saturday. I take them to the mall and work on their bike in the morning. By lunch, they are back on the road with the bike singing all the way home,” Jaco.
Jaco divides his leisure time between his love for bikes and racing and his passion for golf. He recently ran a 9.2 second drag at Dezzi Raceway on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and has raced and dragged Suzuki bikes all across South Africa.
“I always buy the latest Suzuki superbike for myself. I need to know what I talk about when a customer walks in. I cannot wait to do the same with the new Hayabusa.”
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