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.
The dealership opened its doors back in 1975, when Greg Scott, the father of the current Dealer Principal and owner, Trevor Scott, set up the business. At the time, Greg was the area manager for International Harvesters (IH) in the region.
As there was an existing IH dealer in Bethlehem in 1975 when Greg decided to start his own business, he became a Same Tractor agent with an additional floor for used implements. By 1985, Greg Scott decided to go it alone in the nearby rural town of Reitz selling Deutz tractors, Alfa Romeo and Daihatsu cars, as well as Yamaha motorcycles. This mixture of mobile equipment led to the establishment of a Ford dealership in Reitz in 1986 and Mazda in 1992.
Later years, the Ford and Mazda dealerships became available in the bigger, neighbouring town of Bethlehem, and the Scott family jumped at the opportunity.
“During 2014, Mazda Japan decided to break ties with the Ford Motor Company as a distributor of Mazda in South Africa. Mazda Japan also refreshed the whole passenger car line-up during 2014/2015, which created the need for a new premium showroom to fit the Mazda brand. The new showroom was erected in 2015 on the corner of Muller and Commissioner streets,” Trevor says.
After 30 years as a Ford dealer, the Ford dealership was sold in 2016.
Trevor took over from his dad in keeping the family tradition alive with his wife Lorraine and daughter Lauren who are also part of the Mazda dealership, known as Scott Auto Mazda.
“Times are challenging and could probably become even more so with the current conditions owing to COVID and the aftermath of the pandemic. I remain positive, and we have an excellent brand that is getting good traction with especially first-time buyers,” Trevor tells Dealerfloor.
“The Eastern Free State is quite a large area of responsibility and includes towns like Harrismith, Reitz, Heilbron, Senekal, Fouriesburg, Ficksburg, Vrede and Phuthaditjhaba where a large number of our customers are based. Our loyal customers, dedicated employees and family commitment are the main contributors to our survival story.”
“We are busy with a marketing campaign for our new BT-bakkie range, focusing on the leisure market as we only have double cab versions at this stage. Our SUVs – like the CX-5, CX-3 and CX-30 – are extremely popular, and we have lately seen an uptake on the Mazda3 as well,” Trevor says.
“Yes, the havoc created by COVID-19 and all the well-documented problems caused by it, are known and felt throughout the motor industry. A worrisome factor is the steep price increases of new vehicles, owing to currency fluctuations, which is making business difficult in a region that is not a wealthy metropolitan area.
“We are cautious about the used vehicle segment with good stock being limited and overpriced. Like I mentioned earlier, we have a high number of first-time buyers, which means we do not get that many trade-ins affecting our offer on the used side. But we manage with what we have, and we are careful where and what we do buy.
Trevor says that 2017 was their best year and that the economic downturn thereafter and then the arrival of the pandemic after that, led to challenging business conditions. “We are currently, given the circumstances, fighting our way back to 2017 levels.”
“An important aspect of the business for me is the importance of local support. Around 90% of our business is in our area of responsibility, which benefits us in the long run, in terms of services and repairs. I support local business as we are part of this community. We do not say no to business elsewhere, but our focus and effort are here in the communities that support us,” Trevor concludes.
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