With the economy finally opening up businesses in the tyre industry is adapting to the new normal.
Hedley Judd, National Director of the Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says business is reasonably back to normal trading levels in the rural and country areas where they have seen a 75 – 80% return to normal business but is still erratic in the metropolitan areas. “We are seeing a spread ranging from 40% levels to the 75% mark,” he says. The effect of the lockdown on aftermarket component manufacturing is also being felt in sectors, but not to the extent at this stage to be debilitating to the business.
Judd says of significance the explosion in digital communication during lockdown has seen many dealers who traditionally shied away from technology embracing the systems and in fact finding opportunities in the sharing of technical specifications and even being able to share stock to assist other dealers in trouble with traditional supply. Lockdown has also fast tracked collaboration between three of the aftermarket group of associations. TEPA, together with the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) and the Automotive Remanufacturers’ Association (ARA), for example have got together with Gondolier, the importers of Jonnesway tools, to release the first in a series of podcasts for members. The podcasts will focus on the launch and development of a support program which will provide members with an informative and educational series focusing on tools, how to use them and how to evaluate the real value of quality tools
“There is no doubt however that our members, who represent 1 100 of the tyre equipment and parts dealers nationally, have felt the stress of lockdown. Adherence to the regulations comes at a cost and many struggled to access the various financial relief measures through corporate funding mechanism, UIF and TERS. “Fortunately, the RMI stepped in and offered members the assistance of the Motor Industry Staff Association, MISA, to facilitate the claims process for TERS benefits on behalf of the RMI members’ employees. This came as a huge relief for those who made use of the system at the time.”
Judd says the industry has also adapted well to the Sanitisation protocols and only reported a very limited number of COVID infections at the outset of level 4.
As businesses across South Africa adjust to “business abnormal” or “the new business normal”, Judd says he is not anticipating too much change in the automotive aftermarket industry. “We don’t believe the functional demands of the industry will change much although we do anticipate the lessons learnt during lockdown in terms of our digitisation will have a profound influence on the way the supply chain works and how business is conducted where a physical presence is not mandatory for the efficacy of the work being conducted,” concludes Judd.