Heading for their seventh decade in SA

This year the well-known Lazarus family celebrates 65 years in the automotive business in South Africa.

22 Ford Colin Laz1

Renowned Ford collector and CEO of Lazarus Motor Company, Colin Lazarus, remains one of the best examples of a successful family-run business in the local automotive industry.

During its six-and-a-half decades in business, the company has survived several economic downturns, not least the COVID-19 pandemic, while each of the successive four generations took the company to greater heights.

Lazarus Motor Company started with Ford and it remains at the heart of its large multi-franchise facility in Centurion.

Colin says he fondly remembers the company’s humble beginnings during its formative years and key transformation periods.

In 1957, two months after Colin was born, Lazarus Motor Company was established when Colin’s father and grandfather started selling tractors and cars in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.

The Lazarus family was successful from these early days, despite competing in a very competitive industry. The secret, says Colin, was exceptional customer service. It was perhaps also this good reputation that led, in 1961, to Colin’s father winning the Ford franchise in Bronkhorstspruit. The Lazarus Motor Company has been a proud Ford dealer ever since.

“When a customer is stuck, he or she needs assistance today, not tomorrow,” says Colin. “We believed back then that being able to respond faster and provide more personalised feedback would help differentiate us and it became one of our most valuable hallmarks going forward. To this day, customer experience is ingrained in the way we do business, and we still put people first,” he says.

“Colin is a true Ford ambassador who lives the brand to its fullest potential every day,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa. “He carries immeasurable industry knowledge passed down by his grandfather and father, and now to his sons. If the Lazarus legacy is anything to go by, then the company is sure to continue its evolution and growth into the next generation, alongside Ford’s range of next-gen products,” she says.

When Colin was 22 years old, he took over the reins and began searching for new opportunities that would modernise the business and meet changing customer demands.

In 1990, Colin would be influential in setting up a new dealership in Pretoria. It was here that he noticed the potential and realised the importance of having the right location. Colin then moved to his current premises in Centurion and pioneered a multi-franchise business which he now runs with his son, Ross.

Colin (right) and his son Ross with some of their impressive Ford GT models that they have collected.

Colin easily admits that Ford holds a soft spot in his heart. “I grew up with Fords, and some of my fondest childhood memories are with the Ford brand, that’s all we ever had,” he remembers.

His collection of classic and modern Fords indeed lends credibility to this passion. A variety of bakkies, sports cars and hot hatches, some older than the company itself, are kept in pristine condition in his personal museum. Many of the cars, like the last Bantam to leave the production line, carry a unique story. His collection of GTs, capturing 50 years of Ford motorsport heritage, is one of the rarest in the world and deservedly takes pride of place – especially when attending local and national special events.

“I was incredibly fortunate to be get my 2020 Ford GT into the country,” he admits, “but having the other two GTs proved how passionate and serious I am about these Fords and the bearing they have on Ford’s greatest motorsport achievements.

“Seeing everybody’s reaction to these three cars is terrific for the brand and illustrates the evolution of technology and performance. I doubt there is another private collection like it anywhere in the world,” Colin says.

“The family legacy looks certain to continue its upward trajectory, eclipsing our previous success in ways that may have seemed impossible half a century ago. Ross will bring renewed stability to the Lazarus Motor Company and ensure that our dedicated team never loses sight of the mantra of putting customers first,” he concludes.

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