Dr Boni Mehlomakuli SABS CEO

Automobil travelled to the offices of SABS CEO Dr Boni Mehlomakuli in Pretoria to chat to her about the changes at the 67 year-old organisation.
Listen to the podcast here: SABS Interview
Or watch a snippet of the video here:

John Jessup Joins CAM As Managing Consultant

John Jessup has joined China Africa Motors (CAM) as Managing Consultant: Sales, Marketing and After-Sales with effect from February 1.
CAM is perhaps best known for its impressive sales success with the 15-seater Inyathi mini bus during the mini bus taxi recapitalisation programme. The appointment of the experienced Jessup, 65, who has over 40 years of service in the South African motor industry and has worked for companies like Volkswagen, General Motors, BMW and Nissan, signals the company’s intention to expand their Chinese-sourced product range and compete in a broader spectrum of market segments.
Jessup, a graduate of the University of Port Elizabeth, is a former marketing director of both BMW South Africa and Nissan South Africa and joins CAM after a nearly two-year stint as CEO of Geely South Africa.
“I am particularly impressed with the advanced, dynamic and innovative nature of their plans. It will be challenging and I look forward to being part of it,” said Jessup.
“I enjoyed my two years with Geely and all the basics are in place, but it is now time for somebody else to take them to the next level. They have great products between the Geely and DFSK brands and deserve every success.”

Hi-Q General Manager Andrew Bowren

Automobil recently sat down with Hi-Q General Manager, Andrew Bowren to find out what makes the franchise so successful. The article includes useful information on how to build a brand, as well as other keys to business growth.
Listen to the podcast here: Andrew Bowren Interview

Jeanne Esterhuizen: Automobil/RMI Person Of The Year

The 2011 RMI/Automobil Person of the Year Award was presented to Jeanne Esterhuizen during the RMI’s AGM at the Indaba Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg. The award is presented to people who have made an extraordinary contribution to the industry during the year. The decision is not made lightly, and the award is given only when a clearly eligible person is identified.
“This year, we have identified an eminently worthy recipient. A person who has made an extraordinary contribution to this industry through serving on an incredible number of forums and industry structures – usually in a position of seniority. She has selflessly given up many hours of her private and business time to serve,” said RMI CEO Jeff Osborne.
Receiving the accolade, Jeanne paid tribute to the influence of the 103-year-old organisation. “I really appreciate those of you who made the nomination. When I joined the organisation in 2000, I didn’t fully appreciate the value the RMI had. All I knew was that it was a voice for my panel shop business – something I really needed at the time. “Later I decided to get involved and now here we are 11 years later. If I look back over the years, I now know one thing: the businesses within the RMI make up a huge voice, which people listen to. The retail motor industry has a voice at many levels, because of the efforts of the members throughout the regions. “Wherever I go, when I am asked about my business, I mention the RMI. And people know what that is. Because of this association, everyone wants to interact with me. Wherever I serve, and I serve at very senior levels, I have built up so many connections. Whatever I need to say, the RMI always gives me a forum to express myself. Just this morning, we wrote to the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, to voice our concerns as a collective and the Ministry received it and acknowledged it because of our credentials.”
Automobil: First of all,congratulations on winning the award. How do you feel about it?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: Well, I think it’s recognition, probably, for effort invested in the organisation and I’m very grateful for that.
Automobil: You currently hold 22 different positions within automotive bodies including the RMI, merSETA, MIBCO, DHET, MIFA and SAMBRA. How do you manage to juggle all of these responsibilities at the same time?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: I think it’s really about developing yourself. When you’re starting out and you’re learning about all the different organisations and their challenges and strengths, you then live it for a number of years until it is no longer really an effort. If you’re living it and you’ve done your homework and developed yourself and understood the environment in which you work, then you can contribute meaningfully. Until you have done this, you can’t.
Automobil: Which of these positions are the most challenging and which are the most rewarding?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: Training and skills development is a passion of mine and I find that very rewarding. I enjoy witnessing the difference merSETA is making in people’s lives at grass-roots level. In my own company that is also one of my passions. I believe that skilled staff gives a business a competitive edge. It’s important to develop people. Within merSETA, MIBCO, the RMI, SAMBRA, all of the organisations, I find there is sometimes a lack of understanding between individuals sitting around tables – that, for me, is a challenge. I think there is not enough development and we waste a lot of time educating people. Instead, organisations should be focusing on developing their own people. Stakeholder bodies need to develop their own office bearers. That is a problem, but we are working on it and we are making progress.
Automobil: In addition to all the positions you hold, you also own a highly successful panel beating business based in Bloemfontein.
Jeanne Esterhuizen: Absolutely. We just received an award for the Best Motor Body Repairer 2011 from Mercedes-Benz South Africa. The success of that is, once again, thanks to the skills that have been developed. When I started working for myself, I was heavily involved in the motor body repair sector and I went from panel repair shop to panel repair shop looking at systems, processes and people. At some point in your life you have to realise that you have a set skill, you see and understand the shortcomings and you identify a gap in the market. My husband is also a qualified spray painter, very good and very well known and so people started to bug us to fix their vehicles. My husband was a sales manager for a paint company at the time so we started a business and it just grew. We started with four people – currently there are about 75 to 80, so clearly we have expanded. It’s just a joy when you know what you’re doing. Still, it’s a very challenging environment because you have to deal with insurers and motor body repairers and sometimes the two don’t gel together very nicely. But at the end of the day, I love it because it’s very dynamic and always changing and I love cars and motorbikes. We also work with new technology on a daily basis, which I enjoy.
Automobil: You are only the second woman to receive this award in 25 years. How significant is this fact to you?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: It is incredibly significant to me. When it was read out yesterday, it was quite amazing. We have a history of male domination within the retail motor industry. In the motor industry bargaining council there has never been a woman president in its history. It has been extremely rewarding for me because I think we, as women, bring a different flavour into any organisation. It’s overwhelming to think there have been only two women in 25 years to receive the award.
Automobil: What do you think are the requirements needed to achieve such an award?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: I believe you have to understand what you’re doing and understand your own shortcomings. You have to understand what it is that your members need. In other words, the art of listening comes first. This is necessary for your own development. And then you have to drive it.
Automobil: What motivates you to perform at such a high level?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: I’m a patriot. I love South Africa. I believe we have tremendous potential. I believe we will achieve more than any other country in the world because we have a massive number of individuals who are absolutely committed to bringing about a difference in the lives of others. We have achieved much over the past 17 years and, going forward, I believe this will continue. That is what motivates me – I love the country and I see its potential. Every bit of effort will bring about a positive change, which is ultimately the goal.
Automobil: How did you get involved with the RMI and the other associations you represent?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: I’m a businessperson and have been involved in business for many, many years. When you operate a business you find there is legislation that can become irritating. I couldn’t understand, on the skills development side, why there was so much bureaucracy. So I looked for an avenue and a voice to express what I felt as a businessperson – this led me to the RMI. But one of the first organisations I became involved with was MIBCO, which appealed to me because it offered a wonderful platform to engage in social dialogue. I liked the fact that we could discuss the issues affecting both labour and employers. I realised what we needed was a collective view, a collective vision in order to take business and organisations forward in South Africa. My involvement with merSETA was noticed at a regional level and so I was invited to get involved at a national level.
Automobil: When you are not working, what do you do to relax?
Jeanne Esterhuizen: I ride motorbikes. When I met my husband he was a big fan of motorbikes. When our son was born it evolved into kiddi-Cross and motorcross and off-road biking. When he went to university my husband and I went back to road bikes. I find it’s good to have that release when you are pressurised, constantly, and you don’t have much leisure time. We don’t get much free time so when we do, we make the most of it.

Key Appointments Made At Sewells Group SA

Several key appointments have been made at Sewells Group South Africa (a leading specialist training and consulting company in the automotive retail sector) since the appointment of Tania Barlow (formerly business development manager) as Managing Director in June this year.
Tania succeeded Dennis Anderson, MD of Sewells since 2005, who was appointed chief operating officer (COO) of the global Sewells Group based in Bangkok, Thailand. Dennis joined Sewells in 1988 from Barlow Motor Holdings where he had been manpower development manager responsible for HR and training and enhancement of a staff of 450.
Previously he had been a training co-ordinator at Ford in Port Elizabeth delivering courses in parts and service to dealer staff and management.
Tania herself has a long background in and alongside the motor industry. She joined Sewells in 2006 to become the director of the Ford Academy, where she worked for three years before being offered the opportunity of rolling out the academy model to the Asia Pacific region.
As the Asia Pacific Academies (APA) director, she operated in 10 different markets guiding, monitoring and mentoring local Sewells management teams in support of the academy initiatives and implementing Sewells systems for data, material and operating management.
She became business development manager for Sewells South Africa from April last year until taking up her appointment as managing director from June this year.
Since then the appointments made by Tania for Sewells South Africa have included:
•    George Austin as business solutions manager
•    Jacqui van Zyl as operations manager
•    Odette Taljaard as business development manager
•    Sharon Shaw as Ford Academy director

Jacqui Van Zyl

Odette Taljaard

George Austin

Lisa Barlow


FMCSA Honoured for Diversity and Inclusion

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) was recently awarded top honours in Ford Motor Company’s ONE Ford Global Diversity and Inclusion Summit.
Eight countries including Brazil, USA, Argentina, Canada, China, UK, Germany and South Africa received nominations ahead of the Summit. FMCSA received two awards in the categories  ‘Fostering a Respectful and Inclusive Environment’ and ‘Leading the Way’.
In the first category, the nominees needed to demonstrate Working Together by building a collaborative environment that inspires and involves employees and leverages diverse perspectives inside and outside of the team.
FMCSA came up with a unique concept to create unity amongst all employees by encouraging all Ford employees to write, rehearse and record a ONE Ford song ahead of the reveal of the all-new Ford Ranger.
Submissions were received from all departments who contributed to the song by writing a verse. All the submissions were taken into consideration and written into a four-verse song. The final recording was done at the all-new Ranger employee reveal event on 14 October 2010, coinciding with the global reveal of the vehicle at the Sydney Auto Show in Australia.
More than 2 000 employees in the Silverton assembly plant, and 600 employees in the Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth participated in a final rehearsal and recording process facilitated by FatGroove, a professional music recording company. A music DVD was produced, and a copy given to each of the 2 600 employees afterwards. The ONE FORD song also featured in our global press conference at the North American International Auto Show.
The unique initiative transcended different cultural and language barriers and was subsequently used by other countries including Taiwan and the USA.
FMCSA received a second award in the ‘Leading the Way’ category where finalists needed to illustrate a commitment to global ONE Ford Leadership and make a significant contribution to fostering excellence, working together inclusively and holding individuals accountable for delivering results.
FMCSA’s Manufacturing Team stood out for their achievements in this area. In the lead up to the introduction of the all-new Ranger FMCSA took 196 team leaders and supervisors to the Ford factory in India to complete a practical training programme in Lean Manufacturing principles and practices. The team leaders who attended the training focused on how things were done differently in India and upon their return they were able to filter their learning down through local teams.
Leveraging the exceptional engagement of the Team Leaders, the 5 Star Work Group programme was developed. The 5 Star process is a structured process whereby the Work Groups are required to institutionalize key Lean Manufacturing business practices. The stars are awarded from 1 to 5, for every star the Work Groups must pass a formal evaluation.
These initiatives have been embraced and valued by FMCSA employees, who now feel they have a part to play in the company’s future. Through their commitment and dedication they ensure that a world-class product emerges from the Silverton factory floor.
“At FMCSA it is imperative that we remain globally competitive. These two awards demonstrate our ability to compete on the world stage by initiating innovative and creative projects that benefit both the company and our employees. Well done to all involved on a fantastic effort,” says Jeff Nemeth, FMCSA president and CEO.

Ford Honours Dedicated Employees

Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) recently honoured 159 employees who have served the company for a period of 25 years or more, at two separate Long Service Awards ceremonies in Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.
This year’s annual awards recognised the dedication and commitment of employees who have contributed to the success of FMCSA, with 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service. Employees, together with their partners, were invited to a dinner where they were thanked for their contributions to the company.
“We are honoured to have such dedicated and loyal employees working at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa and this was our way of thanking them for their commitment and dedication,” said Jeff Nemeth, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.
A staggering 103 staff members from the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria were recognised for having served the company for 25 years, while 43 staff members have enjoyed tenures of 30 years. An exclusive few have gone on to exceed those numbers; four having worked at FMCSA’s Silverton Plant for 35 years and two for over four decades.
In Port Elizabeth a number of staff from the Struandale Engine Plant were also honoured for their long service to the company. One staff member managed to break through the 25 year mark, while three clocked up 30 years of service, two moved on to 35 years of service and one achieved 40 years of service.
“This was a small gesture from Ford to thank our valued employees for their contribution to the company,” added Vice President of Human Resources Anton van der Walt. “Their unwavering commitment over the decades is invaluable to this organisation, and their passion and service is something we can all aspire to.”

VWSA’s Abdul Aziz Goosein one of the Group’s “Best Apprentices”

Volkswagen Group South Africa’s very own Body Shop Maintenance Engineer, Abdul Aziz Goosein, was recently named as one of the Volkswagen Groups “Best Apprentice Award” recipients at an awards ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany.  The award is bestowed upon the top young achievers from all over the world.
This year, the award for outstanding professional competence was conferred on 27 apprentices from twelve countries. The awards were presented by the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the Member of the Board of Management responsible for Human Resources, Dr. Horst Neumann and the President of the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Bernd Osterloh.
Prof. Winterkorn said “In order to become the world’s best automaker and set the pace in the industry, Volkswagen needs every single employee – particularly tomorrow’s top performers. The Volkswagen Group brands will shine even brighter in future with committed and motivated young employees like those we are honoring today.”
Dr. Neumann echoed his sentiments, saying “For Volkswagen’s continued success we must master profound changes in fields such as lightweight construction, vehicle electronics and electric traction. That can only be achieved with much dedication and the highest specialist competence. These apprentices set the benchmark in this context. At the same time, the introduction of transnational training standards is paying off.”
This year, the Volkswagen Group is training 12 145 apprentices worldwide. Osterloh said “We are very proud of our apprentices and their achievements. The young colleagues we are honoring today make us very optimistic about the further development of our Company. The Works Council will continue to advocate investing in training all over the world, thereby safeguarding employment perspectives for young men and women.”
Apart from attending the “Best Apprentice Award” ceremony, the young people are also participating in a program spanning several days and have already visited the Baden-Württemberg capital city of Stuttgart, and the Porsche plant, museum and training centre for automotive mechatronics fitters. A driver safety training session is also part of the program.