With 32 years’ experience as new car salesman, Volkswagen Tableview’s sales executive, Gerhard Rademan, still has the pedal to the metal (he prefers mettle) coping with some metaphorical oil leaks and flat tyres of a long career in the automotive business.
“I started my sales career back in 1988 and worked for many different OEM dealerships, apart from a five-year stint at Old Mutual in the 1990s, but I returned to the car sales world in 1998 and joined Volkswagen a decade ago,” he recalls. This father of four, who grew up as the son of a proud Transnet worker, recently buried his elderly father who last month passed away at the age of 94.
“Our current Dealer Principal, Paul Louw, lured me over from McCarthy Volkswagen in Parow. I was put on retirement at the age of 63, but they asked me to stay on for another year, and then another, but they couldn’t keep me on after 65, so Paul asked me to join the Tableview team. I’ll work here until the day I don’t want to anymore.”
Gerhard acknowledges that after so many years in the business, he has built up a good customer base.
“It’s all about the relationship. Many customers followed me here – some even drive all the way from Durbanville and Bellville to do business with us. Working from behind a mask makes it difficult, but as it is part of life now, we push along.”
Gerhard does not regard himself as a veteran car salesman as he is still working full-time.
“The other day I bumped into someone here at the dealership and thought I recognised him, but I wasn’t sure. He had the same reaction and we chatted. He turned out to be a high school classmate of mine from yonks. He was head boy when I was in matric. Online is the new normal, yes, but nothing beats personal interaction.”
Married to Belinda, his second wife, the couple have twin daughters who live in England as well as a son, who also moved to the UK. “I also have a daughter who lives in Pretoria and works as a horse-riding instructor – keeping horsepower in the family!”
Gerhard has toned things down quite a bit, enjoying the “much more relaxing lifestyle of Tableview” by spending time after work with his wife and doing some gardening. “We used to play golf a lot, and in my younger days I played rugby and squash. I used to fish as well, but my wife says I’m allowed to drink at home, so gardening is more my style lately,” says the 67-year-old who, at this stage in life, has no immediate plans to clear out his desk at VW Tableview quite yet.
“Since moving into these fantastic new facilities when I joined the team here, we were challenged by the lockdown like everyone else, so we still have to work a little harder. We won the VWSA Club of Excellence Award this year, so we are doing something right! I just wish we could throw open our doors again!”
Managing a dealership as well as a satellite dealership in another province is not an easy task, but this is exactly what Jose Menezes has been doing since August last year.
Volvo Trucks South Africa has opened a new R130 million dealership facility in Durban to support the growth of the brand’s vehicle parc in the region.
Servicing and maintaining a vehicle are necessary but can often be viewed as a grudge purchase.