• Meet your new Director

    Pieter Niemand has taken over the reins as Director of MIWA from this month.

    We took a moment to speak to him about his experience in the industry and his objectives for MIWA. Take a look…

    Can you give me a brief history of your experience in the motor industry?

    I was very fortunate to start my working career under the guidance of the late Dr Anton Rupert, an Industrialist and a phenomenal business personality. He believed in specific business principals and I took those and still to this day practice them which I believe has led to success.
    I became involved in the motor industry some 10 years ago from a more business than technical perception and had the opportunity to grow over time to really love the industry. Historical and current responsibilities in an ever-changing environment have forced me to be more involved in a practical manner and this has been made easier with the support and assistance of RMI members serving in various structures who inevitably became great friends. Although the motor industry is complex and demanding it is also rewarding working with honest hard-working families creating jobs and hope for thousands of South Africans.

    How have you seen the industry change over the years?

    The most notable changes in the industry have come from the development of technology. The advent of CanBus information systems to transfer instructions from the driver to the various parts of the vehicle was a major change. This communication, made possible by the inclusion of the ECU, BCM, GCM and other units of computerisation, manages more and more aspects of the vehicle at sampling rates faster than the human brain will ever be able to do. These samples are then used to correct so many variables.

    The methods of induction that have evolved over the years to improve fuel efficiency and emission controls, again where technology has played a large role in these developments, allow for increased performance from smaller and smaller engines, with the use of Turbochargers and Super-Chargers in various forms either individually or in combinations.

    What this all means is that technicians that have to perform servicing and maintenance have to be well versed in the technologies employed in the vehicles of today, as opposed to the old-fashioned Points, Plugs, and Condenser services. The increased efficiency of oil lubricants and filtration, the removal of leaded fuel, the increased ignition systems, etc have all lead to another major change in the industry over the years relating to service intervals. Where, in the past, service intervals of 5000km needed to be adhered to, we now see intervals exceeding 30 000km. This has impacted on the level of business to be had in the workshop environment as well. The growth of vehicle volumes in operation may have been a thinly veiled benefit as well.

    With the rate of change having been so rapid in recent years one can only but wonder where the next 10 years will lead as far as the internal combustion driven vehicle is concerned and not forgetting electrically-driven developments which are looming rapidly too.

    What are your current responsibilities at MIWA?

    The role performed by the Association Director is a multi-facetted one where there are elements of facilitation, management, investigation, development, sales, guidance, training and administration. The role is primarily to provide the business operator of an already mature industry with the assistance needed to progress in the fast-developing landscape of the formal sector of business in the country. This covers items such as value propositions, statutory compliance, industrial relations, technology and other areas where necessary. These responsibilities stem from the input received from the members of the association.

    The industry demands continuous improvement, which demands guidance at all levels. The Director is required to remain abreast of these demands and provide assistance to the association in navigating these demands. I also have to manage consumer complaints lodged with the Organisation, to the extent of mediation between the parties.

    There are finally the RMI constitutional requirements for the management of an association where the requisite meetings and formalities of such meetings need to be adhered to, the committees need to be constituted correctly, and function accordingly. I will be responsible to not only the RMI as an organisation but to the Association as well for the effective management of the finances, membership, communications and effectiveness of the association as an entity.

    The most difficult role of the Director is to illicit the participation of the constituent membership in the functions of the Association in general. As has been said many times, management by committee is the most difficult in which to reach a consensus. This is a daily functional role, in amongst a large member base.

    As Director, I am a committed and loyal role player in the membership of the association, who has the best interests of the members in mind on all levels of the business of managing an association.

    What is your vision for taking the association forward?

    MIWA, as the biggest association within the RMI, certainly has a prominent role and responsibility to fulfil, creating structures to serve as references for members conducting business on a day-to-day basis. We need to be the so-called ‘Go-to-Guy’ as a source for information, guidance and support which will ensure that MIWA members operate successfully as independent smaller businesses for sustainable future growth and continuity within the aftermarket workshop environment.

    The MIWA brand is now a recognised and trusted brand in both the eye of industry and certainly the consumer. We have gained tremendous respect as experts in the industry, certainly amongst media houses, newspapers, radio & TV and it is of utmost importance to maintain the positive momentum.

    I believe we now need to focus on specific objectives and priorities which are aimed at creating a culture where MIWA members will want to be part of the inner circle of a well informed and structured business unit. The New Thinking Model of the RMI will allow us to achieve those goals with more autonomy, independence, creativity and more dedicated resources with a mind-set of being business smart.

    MIWA is its members and you, the members, are MIWA. We need to stand together as a collective voice.

    Can you tell us a little about your family, interests, hobbies etc?

    I have a daughter and son with two adorable grandkids which have given me endless joy and specific purpose to do the best I can.

    I love the outdoors and pursue all opportunities to spend time in nature with hunting and travelling our beautiful country while camping and exploring off the beaten track.

    Music is medicine for the soul and I enjoy those private moments where one can find inner peace by allowing your imagination to be taken away by words and lyrics as a compilation of feelings.

    Friendship is a treasure given to us and we need to look after that with a great and passionate responsibility. An unknown quote describes it best in saying ‘Friends are God’s way of taking care of us’.

    If you could choose one person to have dinner with (dead or alive) who would it be?

    Mark Knopfler, lead guitarist and founder member of the band Dire Straits, certainly comes to mind as I always believed he is one of the best guitarist the music world has produced. Besides the fact that I have been listening to his music for the past 40 years I always found him to be an extremely interesting individual being left-handed like myself but plays the guitar right handed. He also shares my passion for cars and has a collection of classic cars which he races and exhibits at shows, including a Maserati 300S and an Austin Healey 100S.
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