Goldwagen and Road Safety
Vehicle factors are one of the contributors to road crashes in South Africa. To reduce road fatalities we need to not only address human factors and driver fitness, but also vehicle factors and the roadworthiness of vehicles.
Goldwagen has become one of the leading automotive part providers in South Africa. We decided to gain some insights about the company and how its core business is at the heart of contributing to the roadworthiness of vehicles on our roads!
Can you give us a brief historical overview of Goldwagen? When and how did it all start?
In 1992 the two founders started a used car parts business in Pretoria West. They identified a niche in the market for specialised parts which were not readily available. There was a specific focus on the Volkswagen brand and the loyalty to Volkswagen products continues to this day! Today Goldwagen supply parts for more than 17 vehicle brands through 107 outlets.
How did Goldwagen expand its business with increased access and availability of automotive components used in a greater variety of vehicles?
As demand for their services grew it became necessary to seek supply of new parts and this resulted in in the direct import of new parts from Germany. Over time the business continued to expand and resulted in a second store being opened in 1995, supported by their first ERP system. In 1996 the business introduced a franchise model under the “Goldwagen” brand, and the rest is history!
As the global automotive market expands and “opens”, do you foresee the ever-increasing number of vehicle manufacturers and models as a significant challenge?
Yes, this will remain a challenge for all players operating in the aftermarket spares environment. Having a stable, properly defined business model and a good strategic approach will be key to dealing with the increasing complexity of the market.
How would you describe the key business of Goldwagen and what may set it apart from the competitors!
Goldwagen does not attempt to be an “all things to all people” provider of parts but remains focused in its chosen markets with high-quality parts, supported by knowledgeable staff and the best possible levels of access and availability.
Do you believe that we underestimate the importance of vehicle roadworthiness as an important requirement for road safety?
Absolutely! There are many examples of “cheap and cheerful” safety-critical products available at life-threatening prices! As in all things, you get what you pay for! While most will understand that a challenging economy and reduced spending power make such products attractive, one must ask what you (and others) lives are worth! Accidents are easily attributed to reckless and negligent driving, alcohol usage, weather conditions, fraudulent licences (as examples) but not often to the quality and legal compliance requirements of the parts used, an area we believe is under-reported and under policed.
Can more be done to ensure we focus not only on vehicle component failure but do more in terms of maintenance and replacing worn parts?
In many countries, annual “MOT”(and similar) testing is mandatory for approval of vehicle licence renewals. These tests play a significant part in ensuring (at least) that any vehicle on the road does (or should) meet the minimum standards. To a large extent, this removes the driver’s requirement to “think” about maintenance as good maintenance and regulation are obligatory. In our markets, it is more about clearly demonstrating the value (in lives and consequential cost) of not maintaining a vehicle adequately. This remains a tough sell where regulation and policing does not foster cooperation.
What, in your opinion, is needed to ensure greater roadworthiness and how do you see the contribution Goldwagen can make towards making roads safer?
The regulatory environment and no compromise policing, supported by punitive fines and impounding of unroadworthy vehicles would play a significant role in improving roadworthiness. That said, an end to end solution is needed, from import licence regulation, duty regimes,(and policing/customs control) through to standards adherence, or development in some cases (to name but a few aspects) is needed, along with real enforcement and sanction. Ultimately, all players in the industry need to contribute in this respect. If a profit motive is the only consideration and there are no real checks and balances then anything goes”
How important is continuous training to the salesforce about the wide variety of product providers and their signature product ranges?
Training is a critical component, firstly to workshop and fitment centre level but also to retail counter sales staff. Unfortunately, with the increasing complexity of modern vehicles, this is a real challenge for the industry, particularly where there is a limited focus in more formal training institutions on developing the automotive skillset. The automotive sector contributes North of 7% to the Country’s GDP and is a major component of our economy. It makes sense to focus on more institutionalised training in this area, for all involved in the industry. Ultimately we need qualified staff to sell, repair and support these products, staff who understand quality, “fit for purpose” and sub-standard parts, particularly in safety-critical areas.
What is the national footprint of Goldwagen - where are stores and distribution centres located - and how can the public purchase or make orders of products available? Do you also distribute to our neighbouring countries?
Goldwagen has some 107 stores nationally and in neighbouring countries. This footprint will continue to develop where Goldwagen sees a specific need.
The public is able to order through any store and, in many cases, the focus on availability will mean a very high probability of getting everything needed at once.
What is done to ensure quick availability of the needed automotive components?
In the unlikely event that stock is not available, the stores can obtain stock as quickly as possible via the main Distribution centre in Centurion or the satellite warehouse in Cape Town. Goldwagen continues to invest in improving the experience of both its Franchisees and consumers in regards to service levels and availability of parts.