It’s a family affair - Dean hopes to leave his motor spares business to his sons one day

By Theresia Tjihenuna
October 2012
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Owning a family business can be a family’s biggest asset and it is always advisable to leave it in capable hands once the owner of the business retires.

This is what Dean Willimse, 41, owner of Madiba Motor Spares, hopes to do one day when all his sons will have finished school. In the mean time, he ensures a shoulder to wheel affair so that there won’t be any loose ends in the business by the time he retires.

Dean served in the technical motor world as Cymot Namibia’s salesman for more than a decade, giving him the spring board he needed to run his own venture. Today, he is the proud owner of two well-established branches of the motor business in the heart of Khomasdal, selling car parts.

Madiba Motor Spares came into existence in 2009 when the first business that Dean established didn’t give him the satisfaction he had been yearning for. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Dean worked as a store manager for a furniture store in Rundu but as fate would have it, he got retrenched from his job. He needed to find something else to sustain him financially.

According to his eldest son, Wilbur Willimse, shortly after his retrenchment in 2003, his father began his own company with the retrenchment package as start-up capital. The company (Armature Rewinding Company) ran for four years. It was dedicated to rewinding motor vehicles and had big clients such as Government agencies and officials, JB Cooling, Plastic Packaging amongst others.

“The business did not fulfill him as an individual so my father decided to sell it,” Wilbur reveals. The business now has new owners and has become one of the most well known rewind businesses in Windhoek. Dean has no regrets in selling the rewind business, because Madiba Motor Spares, which he started shortly after, is doing fairly well in terms of service delivery and cash-inflow.

The name ‘Madiba’ was derived from former South African president, Nelson Mandela’s tribal name, whom Dean says is his inspiration. “I’m such a big fan of his. I even named my youngest son after him,” Dean marvels.

The business has two branches both based in Khomasdal. Dean manages the main branch while his Wilbur takes care of things at the second branch with the aid of an assistant. The business has five staff members, including Dean and his son.

Madiba Motor Spares is home to a range of formidable motor parts including car-brakes, clutch-kits, electronic parts, break-pads, service parts, a variety of fan belts, amongst others. “We are well known for our wide range of stock, thus, we receive a handful of customers daily,” Wilbur says.

Wilbur, 21, has clearly taken from his father’s entrepreneurial nature as he seems pretty comfortable with the operations of the branch (situated at the Engine Service Station) for which he’s the boss.

“It is still mid-month so things are not that busy around here,” he says in his calm, self-assured nature. “Wait until month-end and customers will be flocking here looking for all sorts of things,” he adds. But while he says this, a customer enters the shop looking for fuses.

Wilbur quickly explains to the customer the price range of different sizes of fuses. He then opens a box full of car-parts for the client to have a closer look. After a brief discussion and negotiations between the two, a sale is made and the customer leaves the shop satisfied. “I’m sorry for the interruption, it’s just that our saleslady is on leave and I’m running the shop single-handedly without her this week,” he explains.

After graduating from Eldorado Secondary High School in 2009, Wilbur immediately committed himself to a full-time job at his father’s business and hasn’t looked back since. Currently, he is the only son working for the business while his younger brothers juggle school books. They too, are expected to follow in their brother’s footsteps once they finish school.

Apart from working for his father’s business, Wilbur has dreams and ambitions of his own; “I would like to have my own butchery one day, if all goes well. But for now, my focus is on helping my father’s business grow.”

Wilbur explains that when it comes to marketing the business, word of mouth is all that is needed to get the message across to a clientelle-base. “We usually rely on the word of mouth. This is done by our customers who are satisfied with the services they receive from here. They thus recommend potential customers to us,” he explains. Apart from the traditional advertising, the business also makes use of print advertising in local newspapers once in a while.

Their major suppliers are based in South Africa. They only engage with local suppliers when they reach a deadlock. “The stock prices here are expensive, that is why we prefer to make use of suppliers in South Africa,” he says, adding that they have to order new stock daily as the shelves tend to clear-up quickly.

“Our competitive advantage is that we go out of our way for our clients. We try to make sure our customers leave happy after every visit by providing them with what they need even if it means ordering the item from South Africa specifically for a particular client,” Wilbur adds.

As part of their social responsibility, they aim at bringing more young people from the streets to work for the business. “I want to make a difference in their lives and give them something to live for,” Dean says.

With a business-minded manager like Dean and a dedicated son like Wilbur, Madiba Motor Spares will be around for a very long time, until Dean’s younger sons can finally take over and move it to greater heights. PF