Rich family tradition at Sentra Motors

Like the roar of a lion, the 54-year family history of Sentra Motors rumbles across the country from a humble beginning in the late sixties in Welkom with two state-of-the-art branches in Bloemfontein and Umhlanga today, still run by the same family.

Sentra Hoof

Clive Leeuw was the founder of Sentra Motors with the first dealership opening in the hub of the Goldfields area during the late sixties.

“Being a big family business where Clive Leeuw had his family as staff members, Sentra Motors just gave a very personal feel to purchasing a vehicle. A second branch of Sentra Motors was opened in Bloemfontein towards the end of 1996,” says Travis Leeuw, Dealer Principal and Director (together with his mom and sister) who followed in his father’s footsteps.

Sentra Motors today – on top is the dealership in Umhlanga and below it the dealership in Bloemfontein.

To get an idea of the Leeuw family – Clive was the founder but sadly passed away in 2011. Travis, who shadowed his father since 2001, took over in 2010, about a year before Clive`s passing. With Natalie (Travis`s sister), Nadine (Travis`s wife) Tommy (Travis`s brother in-law), Sello & Papi Lepitla (Travis`s brothers) and last but not least, Mamma TAU (Carol who was Clive`s wife and Travis & Natalie’s mother), the legacy of a family business continues.

The family grew up on a farm in the Welkom/Odendaalsrus district. Travis says he could speak Sesotho before English or Afrikaans, and Sello & Papi (who are cousins) grew up with them and joined the business after completing their schooling.

Travis and his dad, Clive, the founder of Sentra Motors.

Today, the cousins are both sales executives at Sentra Motors in Bloemfontein. With a surname like Leeuw, which sounds like the Afrikaans version of lion, the Sesotho equivalent being Tau, stuck with the Leeuw family and is even part of their e-mail address today.

“My dad would drive between the two branches in Welkom and Bloemfontein every week, developing the same structure as the Welkom branch did with its clients. Once again, Sentra Motors quickly became a household name in the City of Roses. The dealership in Bloemfontein grew to such an extent that my dad sold his building that housed the Welkom dealership and moved the whole family to Bloemfontein in 2000,” he tells Dealerfloor.

“With the growth of Sentra Motors in Bloemfontein as one of the few exclusive pre-owned dealers to go to, the premises grew as well. The Bloemfontein branch stretches over roughly 5000 m2.

Travis, his mom, Carol, and his wife, Nadine.

“Today it is a one-stop dealership, with a fully equipped and qualified RMI-accredited workshop for all servicing and repair needs, a fully equipped valet area as well as a chip mark and scratch division. We have between 50 and 80 cars at the dealership.

“With the popularity of dealing with a family business, we also opened a branch in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal in 2016, which has become very popular in that region. At this stage, we have between 20 and 25 cars available there,” says Travis.

As Clive did between Welkom and Bloemfontein branches, Travis now does the same travelling between the Bloemfontein and Umhlanga Rocks branches, building the business.

Papi, Sello and Travis.

“I think dealing with a family business that has been around for generations, brings comfort and trust to potential customers. Today we sell vehicles across the country and also do quite a bit of sales in neighbouring Lesotho.

“We concentrate on good quality and clean vehicles. A service history, spare keys, accident-free vehicles and a Deckra report are essential for us. With used vehicles in high demand owing to the lack of new-vehicles sales, I believe even the higher prices being paid and asked for used cars still give customers a value proposition. New-vehicle prices are also high, and good quality used vehicles are still more affordable and will always be in demand.

“Being a family business with a solid reputation and a 54-year history, Sentra Motors has stood the test of time and will continue to live up to its slogan ‘Our Name is your Guarantee’, Travis says.

The first and original dealership in Welkom and its service bakkie, and the dealership in Bloemfontein with its service bakkie.
Nadine Leeuw.
Natalie (Travis’s sister) and her husband, Tommie Ferreira.
An aerial view showing the Bloemfontein dealership (in the front).
Maria Mtimsulu at Sentra Motors.

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