Their love for Nissan and the retail motor business is a family affair. With dad, mom, son, daughter and son-in-law all involved in the motoring trade, true passion is not hard to find in this family.
Dealerfloor chatted to Darius Viljoen about business in the capital city of the North West province, Mahikeng, previously known as Mafikeng. At 26, Darius is perhaps one of the youngest dealers principal in the game.
Darius is the DP at 4Wheels Nissan in this economic hub where the provincial government is seated. Not far from Mahikeng, about 70 kilometres or so, is Lichtenburg where his mother, Annelie Viljoen, is the DP at 4Wheels Nissan on which Dealerfloor reported last year.
But that is not where the family relations with the motor trade or Nissan end. His father, Woenie, is a regional manager at another motoring group, and he is based in Northcliff, among other things, overseeing their Nissan dealers, and his sister, Mari, is the F&I at a Nissan dealer in Vryburg. Her husband, Deon, is the DP at the dealership.
“We grew up in North West around Lichtenburg and Coligny, and cars have always been part of our household’s DNA. We are passionate about the Nissan brand, and I am extremely excited about the arrival of the new Navara, the new Magnite and later in the year, the new Terra. The deteriorating condition of our roads sees a growing demand in our SUV range with vehicles like the X-Trail, Qashqai, bakkies and even the small Magnite.
“Times are tough now, with stock shortages and the effect of the pandemic on a wide front of economic activities. I am, however, optimistic about the future and our new products. The demand outstrips the supply at this moment, which is frustrating, but it’s also a good indicator of the popularity of what we have to offer,” says Darius.
Asked about the economy and buying power in Mahikeng, Darius tells Dealerfloor that government employees make up a large part of their business with the agriculture sector from the surrounding areas playing a lesser part at this stage.
“Fortunately, government continues to function during the pandemic and people get salaries. In other sectors, there are people who lost jobs, had to make cutbacks with less money going around that see people trading in more expensive cars for cheaper ones to get a lower monthly instalment.
“Our workshop and parts departments play a major role in our business model, and they went through difficult times during some of the lockdown phases last year, after the border with neighbouring Botswana was closed. We do a tremendous amount of servicing and repairs for customers from across the border and that business has picked up good momentum during the last couple of months,” Darius says.
And how did his career evolve to where he finds himself today? “I started at the 4Wheels group around 2014, first as a workshop trainee and later moving over to the sales side and eventually becoming the Sales Manager at Nissan. I also had a stint at a Hyundai dealership in the 4Wheels group before being appointed DP at 4Wheels Nissan in Mahikeng.”
Darius says that his passion and the support of his family helped him a lot, but senior staff at the dealership, like the Workshop Manager, Edward Shead, with more than 40 years’ experience in the motor trade, his current Sales Manager, Abrie Vos, and Mandisa Skisazana, a senior Sales Executive at the dealership, all played a huge part in him gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to lead the team.
“I am honoured to be in this position, and we are thankful for the success we are experiencing during these challenging times. The leadership I receive from my colleagues, the 4Wheels Group and even my mother who faces the same challenges at her dealership, is of priceless value. I believe in treating my staff as family and in creating an environment for us to enjoy work and being together,” Darius concludes.
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.