Piet du Plooy started selling Mahindras shortly after they became available in South Africa.
Today, with 16 years of selling under his belt, Piet is well known for his product knowledge and commitment to the Mahindra brand, earning him the name of “Piet Mahindra”.
Piet took over as Dealer Principal (DP) of Mahindra and Haval/GWM in Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State in 2020. The small, multi-franchise is part of the larger Smith’s Auto Group (SAG) with its head office in Bloemfontein.
“I arrived more or less at the same time as the pandemic in Bethlehem last year. I started in Bloemfontein at SAG’s Mahindra dealership and spent time at Mahindra dealerships in Mbombela (Nelspruit) and Lydenburg before coming to Bethlehem.
“I have the utmost respect for our Mahindra range. I am humbled by the fact that many of the clients where I worked previously still do business with me today, and we deliver vehicles all over the country, from Gauteng, the Cape to smaller towns like Theunissen in the Northern Free State,” Piet tells Dealerfloor.
“At the moment the Mahindra side of the dealership is still linked to Mahindra in Bloemfontein, but I hope that we could function independently in the future like the Haval/GWM side of our business. As you know, Mahindra in Bloemfontein is an award-winning dealership with top honours as the best dealership numerous times. My goal is to do the same with Mahindra in Bethlehem to be awarded the Dealer of the Year in the small category once we stand on our own feet,” says Piet.
Talking about Haval/GWM, Piet says Haval is immensely popular, and interest is growing in GWM’s new P-Series bakkie. This bakkie was launched recently and it is considered by some as a proper challenger for the more established bakkie brands.
“The most interest is coming from private buyers, with farmers waiting in the wings to see how it will perform. Our Mahindra bakkies are already well established in the agricultural sector, which is the dominant economic activity in our region. I believe the GWM P series can win farmers over,” he says.
He reckons the disruption in the global supply chain has led to a serious shortage of stock and subsequent frustration with customers and the dealers alike. This backlog is hampering business and is expected to continue for some time as many manufacturers and suppliers work at less than optimal capacity.
“We are fortunate that the brands we have here under one roof all represent excellent value for money over different segments. Because of the pandemic and its effect on the economy, customers are more price sensitive, and good service is now more important than ever before,” says Piet.
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.