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Toy Bet2 1

So says Andries Stone, Dealer Principal at Mortimer Toyota Bethlehem about doing business in the picturesque town in the Eastern Free State.

“Yes, there are challenges like stock shortages and other effects of COVID-19. However, there is a lot to be optimistic about. The agricultural sector plays a tremendous role in the success of our business. Farmers have just emerged from a good season, the fields are green and the dams full. The livestock farmers, in particular, are smiling while crop farmers battle a bit with logistical problems created by the recent heavy rainfall,” he says.

The bustling Mortimer Toyota in Bethlehem.

From Bethlehem their dealership’s area of responsibility includes surrounding towns like Reitz, Kestell, Lindley and Fouriesburg, and being so close to Lesotho, it includes cross border sales for new and used cars. They also deliver countrywide, but Andries says their primary concern is in and around Bethlehem.

Asked about how they handle the challenge of stock shortages, he says they have a highly effective system in place within the Mortimer Motor Group (MMG).

“This system makes it possible to source vehicles from branches within the group in a certain time period if it is not “bespoken”. But you must have a client that signed up for that vehicle. The same applies for used cars. “It helps a lot to broaden the pool and to help and retain customers, especially with stock shortages owing to the international interruption of the supply chain for new vehicles.

“We are also fortunate not to have had any staff retrenchments during the lockdown in the group. We rather prefer not to fill certain positions as they become vacant unless it is a job-specific critical position,” he tells Dealerfloor.

The workshop remains an important part of the business.

“Finding good stock for our used car section is also a challenge for the same reasons. Add to that the fact that some vehicle owners prefer to sell their vehicles privately for better prices owing to the scarcity of certain vehicles, especially clean used vehicles, and this adds to our woes.”

He says the popularity of vehicles depends on the area, and in the case of Bethlehem and the surrounding market, bakkies and SUVs are immensely popular on both the new and used sides. The popularity of SUVs is one of the reasons why we are extremely excited about the new Toyota Urban Cruiser that will slot in beneath the RAV4 range in a very attractive price bracket.

“Mortimer Toyota Bethlehem is also a Hino Truck Sales and Service Dealership with a fully equipped workshop. It is mainly the 5- to 8-ton range that is in demand from farmers to businesses in Bethlehem,” Andries says.

Asked about his career, Andries says he is a Toyota man, and he grew up in a “Toyota home”. He started with the brand in Ermelo in 1990, then as DP in Harrismith and since 2006 as the DP at Mortimer Toyota Bethlehem.

Andries Stone, Dealer Principal at MMG Toyota Bethlehem.

In his spare time, Andries loves deepsea fishing and hunting but with the lockdown, especially the deep sea-fishing was put on the back burner, but he says he cannot wait to take his boat into the ocean again.

The Mortimer Motor Group has 11 Toyota, 1 Nissan, 2 Hyundai, 3 Mahindra, 1 Mazda and 6 Ford dealerships in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and the Free State.

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