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Focus on families

Since MIWA is, itself, a family of workshops, we were intrigued to find out the pros and cons of working with relatives from some of our family-owned businesses.

We’ve always thought of MIWA as a family – after all, we all support each other. When one of us is struggling, we pitch in to help by sharing ideas and encouragement. We all appreciate that, although every one of our workshops has its own strengths and special offerings, by uniting we create a stronger industry which is better able to meet the needs of our customers. 

One of the reasons we’re able to work together so efficiently is because a number of our workshops are, indeed, family businesses. We were curious about how these entities operate: what is it like working with family and is it possible to avoid taking work home?

Here’s what they had to say:

Tollie & Bossie Bosman, Magic Auto Sales and Service Centre 

Established by Tollie Bosman in 2007, Magic Auto Sales and Service Centre is a second-hand car dealership in Port Elizabeth, boasting its own onsite service and repair workshop and vehicle valet.

The workshop got its start after Tollie decided it was time to realise his dream of owning a business, having worked as a mechanic and, eventually, workshop foreman at Eastern Cape Motors, a Ford franchise. That dream grew more vivid after he started selling new vehicles. Realising he now had sufficient experience in both areas to offer customers a service as comprehensive as it was unique, Tollie approached dad Bossie for finance. Tollie says that the best part of working together is knowing that there is always someone who has the best interests of the business available to help – even at awkward hours. Of course, there are challenges too. Being family members doesn’t guarantee that you approach work in the same way, and this initially caused frustrations and even a little conflict. Over the years, the family found that the best way around this was by communicating and compromising a little. “When you understand someone’s process, you’re able to trust it and respect it – and that’s key,” Tollie says.

Click here to read the full Q and A

Ceraj & Nina, CerajM B-em Auto Works

Ceraj of CerajM B-emAuto Works decided to start his own workshop, specialising in BMW and Mini vehicles, when his children entered their teenage years. It was a way to ensure they weren’t distracted by unhealthy and unsafe hobbies, he explains, and ended up being the best decision of his life. Today, his son Aadam works at the business, along with his wife, Nina, who is responsible for all admin – although she considers the entire team of 17 staff members to be her children, too. Daiyaan, Ceraj’s younger son, is likely to join the business once he completes his studying – he shares the family’s enthusiasm for vehicles, and is already building a drift car while Aadam works on his race car.

“Our business isn’t about making profits – it’s more about helping the guy on the street who has no motor plan so that he is able to drive his car with complete peace of mind,” Ceraj says. It’s a philosophy that has been particularly rewarding, as the business’s Google rating consistently shows – in fact, the business regularly outperforms BMW! Ceraj maintains that being part of a family business means that everyone is eager to go the extra mile. “A family that works together, stays together!” he says.

Click here to read the full Q and A

Mike & Andrew Goltman, Bryanston Auto Tech

After honing his skills in the hospitality industry, Andrew joined his father Mike in his dealership. By that stage, Mike had already spent almost 25 years in the franchised motor dealer environment and realised there was a gap in the market for an aftermarket independent workshop that offered peace of mind at an affordable price. His hunch was right – by 2016, Mike opened Bryanston Auto Tech, consolidating the business that had been established in Fourways.

Mike says that being in business with family means that values – like trust, honesty, communication, quality, personal care, enthusiasm, empathy, and fair value – are shared, while the different skills each brings to the business means that each member is able to complement each other. Being good friends as well as family makes for a more enjoyable work experience – although, he admits, work sometimes inevitably spills over into home time. “It is important to remember that we have family lives, but we are fortunate because our respective families understand the business and share our passion and commitment.

Although Andrew may not always feel comfortable telling me off for something he feels I should have done differently, he’s learned valuable communicating skills as he tries to navigate the situation.” Mike says that his ultimate goal is to share the knowledge he has learned in the industry to coach and mentor other independent businesses.

Click here to read the full Q and A

Pravesh & Nerisha Singh, Autotonik

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Pravesh Singh established Autotonik two years ago, having amassed 32 years’ experience in after-sales and service. “We decided to create a business that could offer customers efficient, cost-effective, quality workmanship,” he says. Pravesh is supported by his wife, Nerusha, son Saish and daughter Nikisha, who are responsible for functions such as finance, admin, and customer service. He maintains that working with family means that objectives are easier to attain because each individual has a better understanding of the challenges that must be overcome. But, he adds, he doesn’t view the Autotonik family as the four Singhs alone – to him, it encompasses all members of the workshop, as each embraces the loyalty and effort required to make the business a success.

“Maintaining a vehicle and maintaining a family share a lot in common – at the end of the day, they both perform best with love, care, regular check-ups, and a good journey to share at the end of the road.”

Click here to read the full Q and A

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