Owned by Sisonke Dinga (32) and Steven Dunn (37), the SD Group is one of MIWA’s newest members – and it’s already reaping the rewards of accreditation.
The pair explain that they have been able to increase the scope of their work thanks to their membership, which has enabled them to access training while also improving their brand image and contributing to consumer confidence.
This is crucial, says Sisonke, because access to training is a bugbear for independent aftermarket workshops. This is just one challenge facing such workshops; obtaining parts is another.
That said, operating without the confines of a dealership has its advantages, too, allowing them to push boundaries. In fact, one of the reasons Sisonke and Steven decided to leave the dealership environment was their belief that they could offer customers greater value for money if they repaired parts instead of replacing them.
Dunn says the business has in fact been so successful because of the gap it serves in the market. “We realised that customers often could not afford costly replacement parts and this was the perfect way we could assist these customers with an alternative. We are able to repair the component with the same quality workmanship they could get at a dealer, but just at a more affordable rate. For us, it is all about value for money and helping our customers keep the brand on the road and not at home,” he explains.
The pair learned as much as they could working for premium brands BMW and Mercedes Benz, and now offer the same level of expertise and know-how – with an added serving of passion – from the SD Group’s branches in Midrand (which is managed by Sisonke) and Amanzimtoti (run by Steven).
Both are thrilled by what they have achieved since they established the group with their own funds back in 2017, and are excited about what the future holds. With the trade increasingly requiring knowledge of fields like mechanical, electrical, and IT, it is a dynamic and challenging profession for young people, they maintain.
Asked if they would change their independence if given a chance, the answer is a resounding no. “In the aftermarket we are able to do what we couldn’t do when we worked at a dealership. There are no boundaries. This is not a job for us. We love what we do. It’s more like a hobby that we are both very good at. We can stay at the workshop till midnight and it no burden to either of us,” Dinga enthuses.
Their best advice for young people looking for a career in the automotive sector is to first and foremost have a passion and love for cars – the brand should be a bonus. “You must have a keen interest in maths and science. This helps a lot because what we do is about problem-solving. Maths and science come into play when you talking electronics. You also need to want this as a career. It’s not a job and you should not be driven by money. Money is a by-product of acquiring knowledge. You get a good reputation and in turn people will look for you because of that knowledge – then you’ll get money,” they conclude.