Apparently, a Jamaican Proverb says, “Mi old, but mi nuh cold”, meaning – do not underestimate the value of the elderly.
When you are “too old” for the corporate world, you become a “Home Salesman”.
So says Robert Wienand, a career vehicle salesman for the past 23 years with an unquenchable passion for selling vehicles. Despite his enthusiasm, the message to him was clear – retirement age is 65 and Robert, like he describes himself, is turning a young 75 in August.
“I was part of the team at the Peugeot/Citroën in Fourways and was retrenched when the dealership closed its doors during February this year. I then started looking for a new employer where the age limit of 65 did not close the doors on me.
“My first retrenchment was after a career at the Head Office of a Manganese Mine. Thereafter, I secured a position as a sales executive in the motor industry. It was the beginning of an interesting and joyful work experience that I never imagined I would love so much.
It was while working for different motor groups representing a vast number of brands such as Hyundai, Nissan, Peugeot, Citroën and Mitsubishi that I realised my passion lay with the Citroën brand specifically. I started growing with the brand and continued working until Citroën decided, in 2016, not to bring new vehicles into South Africa.
“At that stage I took the decision to try the life of a retiree. And what a failure that was! I could not stay at home and became extremely bored and short tempered.
“During my years selling the quirky French brand, the flagship branch of Peugeot/Citroen Fourways carried the entire country with the sales generated, doing between 30 and 40 Citroën vehicles a month. Good money was made by the dealership and the sales executives.
I was recalled to Peugeot/Citroën Fourways when Citroën re-entered the local market in October 2019, working there until February 2021, when the dealership closed its doors for the last time.
“In spite of applying for various positions since then, I have hit a brick wall owing to my age, and I am constantly being told I am too old to work, the emphasis being placed on age and not experience,” he says.
“Imagine my disappointment when I heard these words, but then again, I was not going to let this get me down and decided I would be a “Home Salesman”.
“After discussions with a certain Peugeot/Citroen/Opel/Isuzu dealership on the West Rand, I secured a ‘spotters’ position that allows me to ‘sell’ from home and be paid a reasonable spotters fee for every successful delivery done.” This is not what he envisaged, but Robert says at least it keeps him busy.
“I would ideally want to go back into a dealership where they look at your experience rather than age. I am not too old. Being a successful salesman is measurable. If you are good, you sell well and you sell many,“ Robert concludes.
Managing a dealership as well as a satellite dealership in another province is not an easy task, but this is exactly what Jose Menezes has been doing since August last year.
Volvo Trucks South Africa has opened a new R130 million dealership facility in Durban to support the growth of the brand’s vehicle parc in the region.
Servicing and maintaining a vehicle are necessary but can often be viewed as a grudge purchase.