Family business reaps rewards for hard work

A good, solid business relationship and great service from ABSA saw Suzuki Zululand scooping up a Golden Partner Award.

22 Suzuki East Roland1

The dealer won this award from the bank in the Franchised Small category earlier this year, and it was more recently also awarded Platinum dealer status by Suzuki.

Dealerfloor had a chat with Roland Witthoft, Dealer Principal of the Suzuki Zululand as well as the Chery and Haval dealerships in Richards Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

Roland and his brother, Dieter, are the owners and directors of the East Motor Group with seven dealerships in total. The dealerships include Toyota and Ford in Eshowe and another Suzuki and Chery dealership in Salt Rock.

“My brother started out with the Toyota dealership in 2001, and I joined when the Suzuki dealership was added to the portfolio. We have been in the used and new car business for many years and have built up a good reputation.

From left are Sherika Singh (ABSA), Roland Witthoft (DP) and Marga Wessels (F&I).

“Except for the addition of new personnel, my original staff members when we started with Suzuki are still with us, and we boast very good teams at all our dealerships,” says Roland.

“Yes we are honoured with the awards, and some of our other dealerships have also won various awards over the years. We are a family business and believe to be hands-on in all respects. We put great emphasis on personal service, and customer care is an absolute priority for us,” Roland tells us.

Asked about the obstacles the motor retail business faces today and especially in KwaZulu-Natal, Roland says although the floods and unrest in the province had a serious effect on business conditions, they were fortunately spared physical harm and damage.

“We are glad to see an improvement in stock availability across the spectrum. On the Suzuki side, we are privileged that the manufacturer could deliver a good stock supply even during the more difficult times. It did not only help at dealership level, but also put the brand on the podium in terms of overall sales and market share in the country.

“The Suzuki range starts at real entry level models, and a wide variety of offerings are really doing great while our Chinese brands like Chery and Haval are also shining in the market segment in which they do battle. And it is no surprise that in the more rural and agricultural settings of Eshowe, our Ford and Toyota dealerships’ pick-up range is immensely popular,” he says.

And what does the future hold in terms of expansion? “I think where we are, the market is saturated, but in Salt Rock there is room for growing our footprint, and we look at numerous possibilities,” Roland concludes.

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