Kimberley might have received good rains during December and January, but in the broader region, a large part of the agricultural sector is still on its knees after years of severe drought.
So says Johan Booysen, Dealer Principal at Morgan Nissan/Datsun & Renault in the Northern Cape capital city of Kimberley.
“Farming is a huge contributor to Kimberley and the surrounding towns’ economies. On the positive side, we are looking at a good season owing to the rainfall in certain areas. On the negative side in some regions you see desolated farms, no animals and the environment bears the scars of the long-lasting drought.
“I am optimistic, but in terms of crops we still need to see the extent of the output in the next couple of months and the same applies to livestock farmers with new arrivals expected soon and towards the end of the year,” says Johan.
“On the Nissan side, bakkies are big business in any farming community. The shrinking demand in the agricultural sector, because of the drought, and the normal stock shortages owing to the COVID-19 pandemic are bad for business. Add to that the time lapse between the availability of our new Navara range, which for the first time will include workhorse variants, and the demise of the NP300 did not do us any favours.
Johan says if all goes to plan with good yields from the farming community, they can make up lost ground with the new bakkie offering, winning back customers and bringing about a turn-around to about 75% of their pre-COVID sales, which are now substantially less.
“On the Renault side, the Duster, especially the diesel models, are immensely popular with customers who stay in rural areas and people having to drive dirt roads. The Kwid, on the entry level side, receives great support from first time buyers.
“With Kimberley being the capital city, it has a lot of state departments, and we get good support from these entities. The problem is getting to clients, showing vehicles, following up leads and getting all the paperwork done, owing to COVID restrictions and many people working from home,” Johan says.
Asked about the workshop, he says it is up and down and they are putting in a huge effort in this regard. “One of the problems we face is the tourism and vehicle rental industry, which under normal circumstances bring in a lot of business. Now there is not much going on, and we hope for a speedy recovery of this industry.”
He says the mining industry is also a big player in Kimberley, but in most cases the industry has contracts with certain manufacturers as mines also do some of the servicing of their fleets themselves.
Talking about the dealership itself, Johan - born and bred in Kimberley – has been the dealer principal for the last 13 years. The dealership itself was part of Imperial but was bought by the Morgan Group in 2019.
The dealership and some of its staff members have, over the years, snapped up numerous awards, from both the Nissan/Datsun and Renault sides being awarded Dealer of the Year for 2019 by its then owners, Imperial.
Johan says they have a good solid staff component, and both the Parts Manager and Workshop Manager are women. “They bring calmness and leadership to the different departments and both have excellent admin skills. One of our employees, Greta Lekoma, a cashier has more than 27 years of service at the dealership and that is an excellent accomplishment,” says Johan.
“To be involved in our community is essential. People must know we are not here to only make money but to plough back into the community, which has supported us over many decades. On a personal level, I am involved with different NGOs and I am a director of one working with people with disabilities.
“With all the strange circumstances we find ourselves in today, we have to stay on our knees not to be forced to our knees,” Johan concludes.
True empowerment must be visible and sustainable. The transfer of expertise and knowledge is crucial to make it a success, and last but not the least, all parties must invest in the venture.
Namaqualand is an unforgiving region, and during the current prolonged drought, farmers can suffer. It can also be a paradise in the flower season bringing much needed tourists to this remote part of the country.
Kia South Africa rewarded its top-performing dealerships across the country with numerous prizes for outstanding achievements in sales, after sales and service operations.