Obtaining a BSc Agric degree and then going on to sell trucks, might not be the chosen career path expected from someone with this qualification.
But that is exactly what Pieter van Burick did, and he has never looked back or regretted not taking up the science behind agricultural production.
From knowing nothing about trucks to a sales manager at a highly successful Hino dealership, is certainly an achievement on its own.
After leaving varsity, he started his career at UD (Nissan at that time) in 1995. He passed the UD cadet programme with distinction in 1996. In 2006 he moved over to Isuzu where he achieved huge success and won multiple regional and national Isuzu skill competitions.
Pieter joined Hino Oranje in Bloemfontein, part of the Oranje Toyota Group, as Sales Manager in 2018.
Dealerfloor spoke to a very passionate Pieter about business in the trucking world in central South Africa, which covers the vast area of the Free State and Northern Cape with only a couple of smaller dealerships or service agents in the two provinces.
“Yes, as the only major Hino dealership, we cover a huge area with our regular clients. With the main route between Gauteng and the Cape running through the Free State, we also look after any trucks that encounter problems.
“At Oranje Hino Bloemfontein, we are proud of our state-of-the-art facility with dedicated sales and workshop teams. We have five drive-through service bays, a fully equipped roadside services unit and people on 24-hour-standby to assist with breakdowns.
“Quick and effective servicing and fixing of trucks are the backbone for operators. Down-time means a loss of income either for not generating an income while standing, but potentially losing contracts as the middle man for transporting goods on behalf of someone to
the point of sale or for any other business outlet. That’s why servicing your truck with us matters.” Pieter says.
Asked about the new service and maintenance plans for Hino trucks, Pieter says it is an excellent value-added feature. “It is unique to each truck operator based on application, mileage, routes travelled (like dirt roads), long distance travelling vs hours in operation and a number of other factors.
“We do the cost calculations on the Hino system, and Standard Bank handles the administration of the plans. The plans are adaptable. Truck operators can choose between a service plan and a maintenance plan,” he says.
On the difference between buying a car and buying a truck, Pieter says, the truck and car business might seem the same in many ways but are opposites in terms of function and necessity. “A car owner buys what he wants, likes and can afford, and what he has dreamt about. Trucks are quite different. They are work horses.”
Dealerfloor asked Pieter about the slow sales recovery in the South African truck market and the effect it has had on business. “The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact with a drop in sales compared to last year. We are, however, extremely glad about the growing demand for trucks and see it as a positive development..
“The problem all truck manufactures experience, is the shortage of stock. During the pandemic, production was halted and a back log developed, making it hard to get enough stock. But we know better days are ahead, and we are thankful for our successes each month.”
Asked about the popularity of the current Hino model line-up, Pieter says the current Hino 300 (2 to 5 ton) medium commercial range and Hino 500 (5 to 8 ton) heavy commercial range are popular in the region.
“We are proud of the Hino series in terms of reliability and cost of ownership. Hino’s wide model range starts at 3.5 tons GVM up to 65 tons GVM and it has more engine and transmission options available, which include 6-speed Allison automatic transmissions and 16-speed ZF automated manual transmissions. Other models include double cabs, 4 x 4s, 6 x 2 tag axles, truck tractors and freighters,” he reckons.
Another thing he is immensely proud of is the various awards the dealership can boast about. “We received the runner up dealer award for 2015 and 2017. Our team achieved a second place overall in the National Hino Skills Competition for 2020. In 2019, I was privileged to make it to the third spot on the podium during the National Hino Individual Skills Competition (Sales) after one year with the brand. Our two top technicians achieved 2nd and 3rd place in the individual workshop category in the same year.”
And what does the future hold? “I am overly excited about the Hino brand and its growing popularity. What can I say? Once diesel is pumping in the veins it’s difficult to get it out. Trucks are my passion, it’s my game.”
It does not take long to realise that the person on the other side of the telephone is a remarkable woman, someone who knows the motor trade by heart and defiantly not a pushover.
There is no substitute for hard work with passion, doing the things you love.
As the most awarded Volvo dealership in South Africa, TCM is the current South African Volvo Car Dealer of The Year as well as Service Dealer of the Year. Their secret? Making sure their focus is on their people.