Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, once said that great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.
Although that is true, when it comes to Tessa Pienaar, General Manager at Mahindra Vaal, her multi-tasking skills are so enhanced that it could feel as if she is a team all on her own. Currently, she runs the award-winning Mahindra Vaal dealership; she has been part of the management team of the Vanderbijlpark Business Chamber since 1995; she established and chairs the Vaal Triangle Dealer’s Forum and is busy writing a training manual for the dealership she steers.
Dealerfloor found a small opening in her busy schedule to talk about Mahindra Vaal recently receiving the Mahindra Dealer of the Year (DOTY) award for medium-sized dealerships, making it the 4th time in seven years this dealership has collected this prestigious award. The best Mahindra dealers across the country are recognised annually for the part they play in sustaining a successful brand.
“I have a hard-working and excellent team supporting me and the dealership and they really stepped up to the plate in performing during a very challenging time, not only for the economy, but internally for the dealership as well,” Pienaar said. “I believe one must be good to your employees even when times are tough. During lockdown, we did not retrench anyone and also did not ask for salary cuts,” she explains. “And now things are looking up, and we are working at full speed, selling vehicles despite a shortage in stock brought about by the pandemic.”
Mahindra Vaal was started in 2009 by five Pienaar brothers who were introduced to Mahindra by farmers when they bought a farm in Greylingstad many years ago. Impressed with the performance of the rugged, trustworthy Mahindra, the brothers decided to open a dealership in the Vaal where the dealership has grown to a consistent award-winning dealership over the past 12 years.
“My husband and his brothers literally started the business from home when interviews with potential staff members were held in the garage at our house where my husband’s fishing rods were hanging on the walls. It was a really primitive setting, but from the start everyone believed in the brand,” she said.
Because of a couple of setbacks during this time, Pienaar had to jump in and assist in doing admin, finance and everything else in between that was needed to ensure this fully-owned Mahindra subsidiary stays in business.
“I learned a lot on the fly, making sure we get our processes in place, and by implementing a good Dealer Management System, we were able to increase performance delivery and overall efficiency,” Pienaar said. “We are now an established dealership in the area, and we’re expanding the parts department and our footprint part of our vision for the future.”
As a big picture thinker, Pienaar envisaged the auto sector in the Vaal as a well-organised and structured industry with the dream of the biggest motor show in the Vaal looming on the horizon. “I believe in nurturing the industry and making sure dealerships work together for the betterment of the industry as a whole, especially during trying times like the current pandemic,” she said.
She also has a different take on the old adage of the auto industry being a man’s world. “I don’t think the business world or auto industry are typically man-focused. Actually, it is a very stylish industry that needs the finesse of a woman to truly shine and perform,” she explained. “And I want to encourage any female to start in this industry since it is one of the few places where you receive proper and continuous training and support so that you can make your dreams come true.”
Photo: The five Pienaar brothers with the Scoprio Pik Up Single Cab 4x2 2.5 Nef Turbo Diesel that started their journey with Mahindra all those years ago, on the Witpoort Farm in Greylingstad.
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