She might have been thrown in at the deep end when she started in the trade, but Louise de Witt has definitely found her happy place.
Louise runs the Morgan Group facility in Harrismith. As Dealer Principal, she oversees the sales and service of UD Trucks, Nissan and the group’s newest acquisition, GWM and Haval. Prior to this, she was a sales executive at Nissan Bethlehem.
Louise, who grew up in the Kestell district, made a turn in Johannesburg as an auditor for a steel company and then later went on to live on the West Coast before returning to Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem, she joined the Morgan Nissan dealership in 2016 and was appointed to her new position in Harrismith in February this year.
“I am fortunate to have learned a lot in Bethlehem, especially from the Sales Manager, Johan Lubbe, and Dealer Principal at Morgan Nissan, Dicky Roux. The training and experience prepared me for Harrismith. The truck side of the business differs quite a lot from the passenger side, but I am getting the hang of it.
“Our truck operations are important and of great significance. We are located on the famous N3 route linking Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Breakdowns and servicing play in important part in our operations with high volumes of truck traffic in this area. We do a lot of business in the agriculture sector, which had a good season with important produce being farmed in our region.
“Owing to the success of the UD Trucks and a demand for Nissan products, a Nissan dealership was opened last year just before the hard lockdown with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. The premises and workshop of UD Trucks were moved from the well-known Highway Junction to a more central spot close to where the N3 and N5 Highways split, making it more accessible to customers.
“These premises accommodate UD Trucks and their workshop, the Nissan dealership and a soon to be built GWM/Haval dealership. At this stage, we accommodate the new brand in the space previously occupied by our used cars as a temporary measure. Trading of GWM/Haval kicked off during August, and the brand is extremely popular with the first two consignments already sold out,” Louise tells Dealerfloor.
“On the Nissan side, we have a lot of interest shown in the single cab Navara bakkies, and we plan a road show once they arrive in the district so that farmers and industries can view them. Stock shortages remain a headache. The fact that we do not have stock does not mean we stop selling.
“We have a good system within our group where we swop and help each other with vehicles, where possible. On the GWM/Haval side, we are linked to each other via a social media platform to assist with obtaining the right vehicles for a client,” she says.
Asked about the recent unrest in Harrismith and shortly afterwards the KwaZulu-Natal violence on their doorstep, Louise says it was a bad time for business. “Harrismith was cut off during the local unrests, and businesses had to close shop on and off for two weeks. Then the unrest in neighbouring KwaZulu-Natal broke out and the N3 was closed for some time affecting business yet again.
“I am glad business conditions are returning to normal in this still abnormal time with the pandemic and the subsequent fallout and serious stock shortages we experience. We are, however, looking forward to expand our dealership with a new division for GWM/Haval that will be added and the arrival of the full Navara bakkie range,” she says.
“Harrismith is an interesting town. It is very multi-cultural, has a serious industrial side, and its location between the economic hubs in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal makes it attractive for business also as a springboard into the wider region,” says Louise.
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