Behind the scenes with Pieter Niemand, the National Director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association.
What exactly is the core purpose of MIWA ?
The Motor Industry Workshop Association, (MIWA) is the largest Association within the Retail Motor Industry organisation (RMI). As a proud constituent association of the RMI, MIWA represents the interests of over 2 600 independent aftermarket repair and maintenance establishments in the retail motor industry.
How long have you been at the RMI and how long have you been heading up MIWA ?
I started with the RMI in November 2010 as the then Regional Manager of the Northern Region and took over the reins at MIWA as national director in July 2017. These changes were all part of the New Thinking Model with the main objective being to stay relevant as an organisation and to adapt to an ever-changing trading environment.
What value do you think an association like MIWA adds to RMI?
My experience since day one with MIWA is the interest, participation, and support of members and how passionate they are about their profession and what they do to earn a living. Continuous feedback, suggestions and comments received from members allow the mechanism of the RMI and its Associations to serve the daily needs of its members, and play a key role in enabling motor trades to deliver a superior service to motoring consumers.
What Associations do you work most closely with?
MIWA members operate in the aftermarket sector of the motor industry and fellow Associations sharing this platform and focus include the Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA) and Automotive Remanufacturers’ Association (ARA).
What achievements are you most proud of within MIWA ?
A new operational model implemented by the RMI in 2018 to improve the strategic and operational objectives of the RMI and its associations provided MIWA with the opportunity to be more independent in our thinking, strategy and funding abilities. We used these platforms to establish a structure to assist, support and educate our members, utilising a national footprint of well-trained MIWA associational representatives visiting our members on a one-on-one basis.
We also introduced a global-based CRM system, which allowed us to record all MIWA activities with specific milestones, tasks and actions. In addition, we are currently driving a digitalisation process in conjunction with the RMI, to ensure our members will be equipped and ready to function as a ‘workshop of the future’ keeping pace with consumer behaviour now and beyond 2022.
Where do you see MIWA in five years?
Positioned strongly as an innovative, sustainable and fast-thinking Association leading by example in the independent aftermarket sector of the retail motor industry. MIWA is an Association setting global standards with local needs and requirements in mind.
Any advice for those aspiring towards a career in the motor industry?
Surround yourself with people that have a positive influence on your circumstance and well-being.
What has been the most challenging thing you have had to deal with over the last two years?
Change. The recent pandemic, if we can call the past two years recent, is a good demonstration of how our ability to adapt to new situations was tested. Everything changed for me. Businesswise we had to adapt to the new norm and a digital way to meet and greet. My personal life made a 180-degree turn and I had to innovate myself, change my mindset and find new routines. Everything is a question of attitude and I started to focus on priorities, set short-term goals and accept the fact that my time is not my time.
Preparation, patience and acceptance form a good platform to change from. I now experience the quote from Jim Rohn: “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
What is your advice to young people wanting to enter the sector?
The automotive industry offers exciting opportunities for disciplined, driven youngsters with an entrepreneurial outlook and a hunger to succeed. With a notable need for skills in several areas, the sector can provide learning and career opportunities for many young people. Life presents you with opportunities and disappointments. There will always be curveballs along the way. It is essential to obtain as much information as possible, strive to make an informed decision and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Tell us more about yourself. When you are not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
One of the proudest moments in my life was when I walked my daughter down the aisle when she got married in 2019. It was a reminder of how privileged we are to have kids, to raise them and see them entering adult life. I love the outdoors and camping and hunting. Simply being in nature is a great way to recharge one’s batteries and spend time with your loved ones.
What is your favourite saying?
Never rush a good thing. More often than not, it is best to consider all circumstances, facts, and one’s emotional state before you act or make any decisions. Sometimes you have no choice but to act quickly, it is prudent to know the difference.
Looking at 2022, what one thought would you like to leave members with?
Be humble, chase your dreams and keep your promises.