The Free State was well represented on the winners’ podium at the recently held VW Grand Prix Awards. The awards ceremony, which were held in June, was done via live streaming because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The top spot on the podium was taken by Lindsay Saker, Bloemfontein, with four awards and Bethlehem Volkswagen and Volkswagen Kroonstad picking up one award each.
Lindsay Saker was awarded - Otto Schoeman: 44 Years of Service Long Service Award (see separate story about his career); Parts Manager of the Year (category winner) and Group Parts Manager of the Year (overall); and Nico Visser: Club of Excellence Award for best Volkswagen Commercial Dealer of the Year.
Estine Willemse of Bethlehem Volkswagen was awarded the F&I of the Year in one of the categories in this division, while Jan Griesel of Kroonstad Volkswagen picked up the award as category winner in the division for Parts Manager of the Year.
Not new to winning is Lindsay Saker Bloemfontein’s Sales Manager, Nico Visser, who scooped up the title for Sales Manager of the Year: Commercial Vehicles. In 2013 & 2014 he won VWSA’s MasterCar Sales Manager of the Year.
Nico moved over to the new vehicle side and became Sales Manager New Cars & Commercial Vehicles. He won the Commercial Manager of the Year for two consecutive years in 2018 & 2019 and again this year.
In July 2018, he also received the award as the Audi New Vehicle Sales Manager for Audi Centre Bloemfontein. During his time at Lindsay Saker, Nico achieved another great feat by receiving VW International Certificates as Sales Executive and Sales Manager, which he is very proud off.
“I believe to challenge myself to be the best in what I do and you are never too old to learn something new,” is Nico’s motto in life.
At Bethlehem Volkswagen it was all smiles when it was announced that Estine Willemse won the F&I of the Year award in one of the categories. She is the F&I for the past four years at Bethlehem Volkswagen.
She originally started in ABSA’s Vehicle Financing Department and went on to work at Bethlehem Auto, Hochland Auto, Richie Auto and had a stunt at two broker firms during her career.
Her career originally started when she temporarily filled a position when one of her friends working in the vehicle financing industry fell ill. She had to step in and assist.
“Since then I have been involved in the financing industry as F&I and before that I worked at various broker firms and I just love it,” she says.
And ditto at Kroonstad Volkswagen with Jan Griesel who scooped up the Parts Manager of the Year award in his category.
Also, no stranger to winning, Jan won the award for Parts Manager of the Year in 2007 and filled the third podium spot in 2010 in the same category. This rugby and motorsport (especially off-road racing) fan has been the Parts Manager at Kroonstad Volkswagen since 2002 and also loves keeping busy with wood work and DIY in and around the house.
The Eastern Cape will benefit from a major expansion drive by Mahindra in the province with three new dealerships waiting in the wings.
Volvo Trucks & Buses Johannesburg scooped up the top award as the 2023 Mega Dealer of the Year during the truck manufacturer’s Dealer of the Year awards.
To turn the ship around, so to speak, was no easy task for Prishen Ghandhi (photo), Dealer Principal (DP) at Hyundai Umhlanga, winner of 2023 Dealer of the Year (DOTY) title.