From cab driver to dealer owner

There is no substitute for hard work with passion, doing the things you love.

Nates 1

Ask Nathanael “Nate” Padayachee, a 34-year-old who rocketed from driving cars in the East London port for R10 an hour to owner of Nate’s Car Sales, a used-vehicle dealership in the city.

Employing around 25 people, Nate says he comes from nothing where there was no point in even carrying a wallet.

Nate did many things to earn a living – working as a driver for R700 a week (substituting it with harbour driving), driving a taxi in Cleary Park where he was the only Indian taxi driver (“they used to call me Raja!”), to calling “at every single shop in the Transkei” for work, including cleaning counters and putting up stickers.

“I was grateful for every job,” he says, adding that he later upgraded to working at dealerships where he sold cars “even late at night to get the deal”, getting home at 23:00, only to be back at work early the next morning.

“I pushed and pushed (myself),” he wrote in a Facebook post, adding that he was born as a premature baby weighing only 2 kg, leaving him with ongoing respiratory problems and carrying an asthma pump. He was also born with a club foot, but that never slowed him down – in his early years he walked where he needed to be, surviving a mugging, a stabbing that led to five stitches, and even ducking from bullets.

“I always remember - no matter the situation, no matter where you come from, there can always be change. Trust me; I know!”

Today, Nate owns what he calls “one of the biggest car dealerships in the country, offering customers over 200 vehicles to choose from. Nate’s Car Sales grew from one car at a time to his current dealership at 106 Main Road, Amalinda, East London (contact number 043 050 1031).

“I always tell my staff the reason I wake up every day and push (myself) to do the most, is not only to ensure my son does not go through what I went through, but to help feed the mouths of hundreds of people in need every month through our suppliers who depend on us, as well as our staff and their families.

“We sponsor so many people by making their dreams come true as well,” he says, adding that without all the support from their clients, they would not be able to support those in need.

Nathanael “Nate” Padayachee with some of the Nissan GT-Rs on his showroom floor.

“There is no greater feeling than giving back. I believe that if you give without expecting anything in return, God blesses you in insurmountable ways. We do a lot of community work, which also shows our clients that we care about our broader community and giving back to those in need, thus inspiring many other businesses to follow our lead.”

What makes Nate’s Car Sales different compared to other dealerships, is that “we cater for every single person’s specifications”.

“If we don't have what the customer is looking for, we make sure that we source it. We have over 200 vehicles available, ranging from R9 000 to R1 million, all to be seen in the Nate’s Car Sales’ Legendary Showroom.”

Nate says family makes the motor trade exciting. “I get so excited when I see customers that I haven’t seen in a long time, especially those who might have been in not such a good space but come back. That makes my whole day...”

Nate loves meeting new people. “I don’t think there is any other industry where you meet so many people from all different walks of life. It’s really amazing. It opens doors for everyone as I like to link people I know to make everyone’s journey a greater success.”

He says he sees automotive retailing changing. “The industry is definitely changing. I think that is one of the reasons we grew so rapidly as we are different compared to the old-school dealerships. I definitely see vehicle sales becoming a more online purchasing platform with customers not leaving their homes. Also, vehicles will change a lot – more will soon have electrical drive, making the demand for older vehicles less desirable.

“Yes, the future will definitely change, but we need to change with it. We love interacting with our customers from the beginning ­– checking options, going for a test drive, building relationships, from the start to the end. That is what it’s all about.”

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