Kabelo, the leader of the pack who took The Glen to No 1

It should not have come as a surprise when Kia The Glen scooped up the top trophy as the 2023 Kia Dealer of the Year. With a formidable Dealer Principal in the person of Kabelo Tlailane at the helm, it was just a matter of time one could say.

23 Kia Kabelo1

Although in only in his second year on ‘this side of the fence’, it took a team effort second to none to pull off this achievement, he tells Dealerfloor. “As General Manager of Sales at Kia South Africa, I came to the realisation that OEM experience is only one half of the automotive story and dealership experience the other half. I needed that half.”

Kabelo, who grew up in the Temba township in Hammanskraal, holds a master’s degree in communication management as well as a BCom degree in marketing from the University of Pretoria. He joined Kia SA in October 2019, bringing with him a wealth of experience from previous ventures in the automotive industry.

The management team at Kia The Glen is (standing in the back) Mpho Tjale (Pre-Owned Manager), Nervashin Padayachy (Parts Manager), Llewelyn Thomas (Service Manager), Kabelo Tlailane (Dealer Principal) and Jacques McDermott (F&I Manager New Vehicles). In the front is Vanessa Giltrow (Financial Manager), Shiksha Singh (New Vehicles Sales Manager) and Lebogang Motau (F&I Manager Used Vehicles).

This includes 7 years with the then DaimlerChrysler, where he started his automotive career as a training graduate. There he grew into various positions in different departments, which includes being a regional manager for Mercedes-Benz Passenger Car division and also a stint in Corporate Affairs.

He then went on to join Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) where he spent four years as a Regional Manager; two years as National Sales Manager before landing the position as National Parts and Accessories Manager for South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa where he spent nine months.

After that the road took him to Kia SA as the General Manager of Sales before jumping the fence so to speak to dealership level in 2021 when an opportunity at Kia The Glen arose. It is categorised as a large dealership that sells around 40 new and 38 used vehicles a month operating in the southern part of Johannesburg with Soweto accounting for about 60% of the sales.

A wide-angle view of Kia The Glen’s location in Oakdene.

“This title as 2023 Kia Dealer of the Year is an important award as it shows our dedication and success during business conditions that were not always favourable. My management team and I studied the stringent requirements and lived and breathed what was needed to become the top dealer in the country,” Kabelo tells us.

The effort and dedication paid off and the venture to the ‘other side’ was well worth it. “Look, life at head office and life at dealership level are two different things. I was originally a bit shocked to say the least. Leaving the jacket and tie of head office behind to step into the hustle and bustle of a dealership was intimidating.

“Dealing with customers requires its own skill set and one has to adapt to what was certainly a huge challenge for me. Thankfully, I had the support system of people like my General Manager, Gavin Robinson, who I used as a sounding board and who guided me in many ways,” Kabelo says.

Kia The Glen 2023 Kia Dealer of the Year.

Asked about current business conditions, Kabelo says a number of factors are hampering growth. “Although I am optimistic and the sales chart seems to have turned for better this month, the interest rates, political landscape, load-shedding and high fuel prices create uncertainty in the market.

“Notwithstanding these factors, Kia products and Kia The Glen have found favour with many new customers and as part of our success story, we want to build on that foundation. We have won the top trophy and now the fight begins to retain it, apparently it has not been done before,” he says.

“The secret is to surround yourself with people who share the same vision as you and strive towards the same goals. That is when the magic happens,” Kabelo concludes.

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