The prospect of new solar and wind farms to supplement the businesses of struggling farmers in the area means that the businesses in the De Aar area are keeping a keen eye on their future.
De Aar used to be the second largest railway junction in the country. Unfortunately, the ailing economy and declining effectiveness of the railway as the ultimate mode of transport have had a negative effect on this historic Karoo town with its approximately 42 000 people.
“We are thankful for any developments in our region to stimulate the economy even if these developments are by nature just sporadic like the introduction of more solar and wind farms. In the meantime, we do business as well as circumstances allow us with COVID-19 also a serious threat to normality,” says Hentie van der Merwe, Shareholder and Director at De Aar Motors, retailing Nissan, Datsun and Renault.
“The drought in most parts of the Karoo has been with us for a long time and with a negative impact on the agricultural sector, which form a huge part of the economy in De Aar and the surrounding towns and communities.
“The establishment of large solar and wind farms has a positive effect on the region that also benefits us, but the traditional agricultural sector has had a bumpy ride. We do, however, need to service towns in the region as far as Prieska, Britstown, Colesberg, Douglas, Victoria-West, Richmond and a few others in the Karoo,” Hentie tells Dealerfloor.
Hentie says the Karoo is, notwithstanding the challenges, still a farming community and as such their bakkie ranges remain popular sellers, especially the smaller NP200 and the NP300 represent excellent value, especially as we must remember customers are price sensitive in these challenging times.
“We see it on the Renault side: the lower priced models like the Triber, Kwid and Sandero, and even the more robust Duster, are the most popular models in our region. We also have the Datsun brand that is a serious player on the entry-level side of the new vehicle market. We are looking forward to the addition of new models like the new Nissan Navara bakkie and new additions from Datsun and Renault during the year,” he says.
Asked about the history of De Aar Motors, which has been an institution in the town for many decades, Hentie says it has a rich history that stretches back as far as 1942 with Willem Verburg the founder and first owner. Verburg used to transport patients for the local hospital, where his wife was a nurse, to Bloemfontein. After he passed away, the business was bought by Henk Wichers. The current owners bought it from Mr Jannie Venter.
In recent years, the building has been updated, expanded and modernised to the different manufacturers’ requirements and is serviced by a Caltex filling station over the years. The Nissan/Datsun and the Renault dealerships have their own customer entrances and showrooms, but back office duties are shared.
He ended on a positive note that the introduction of new models will be a highlight notwithstanding the damage the drought, a struggling economy and the COVID-19 pandemic and that they are as ready as ever to do business.
Hentie and the Fourie family are the owners of the business and have been petrol heads for a long time. “The Fourie family is involved in the insurance and auditing fields, and I was part of the local government up till 2013 when I decided to join the world of new vehicle retailing,” he says.
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