Farewell to old friends
Three years ago, Piet van Wyk de Vries set out to achieve a mammoth task: the rebranding and revitalisation of Toyota Trucks into a dedicated truck business that would operate autonomously of Toyota SA.
Having not only realised this goal, but done so with unmatched success and acceptance of the Hino brand, Van Wyk de Vries has chosen to hand over the now-established business unit to a younger successor.
“I have achieved what I set out to do,” he told Hino’s dealer principals, gathered for the manufacturer’s annual dealer strategy conference. “The Hino brand has been established and it’s time for new blood to take this brand forward to even greater successes.”
Casper Kruger, who has spent 10 years with Toyota in various capacities, from heading up Lexus to general manager: marketing and planning, will henceforth be at the helm of Hino in the capacity of general manager.
Van Wyk de Vries’ departure, while expected, does not come without sad farewells and fond memories. “Piet is retiring after a very successful 25 years with the Toyota Group,” said Andrew Kirby, senior vice president for sales and marketing, Toyota SA, to a gathered audience of Hino clients and dealer principals at the annual Hino client appreciation dinner.
“His tremendous passion and dedication not only secured his own successful career, but the growth and market leadership of first Toyota Trucks and now Hino.”
The past three years have marked the further differentiation of Hino from Toyota, thus securing a specialised trucking business; an ever-expanding product range; the development of a specialised dealer network focusing on trucks; and a more focused and supportive structure within Hino itself.
“Piet has been instrumental in achieving this vision,” explained Kirby. “Dealers and fleet owners alike have been incredibly supportive in absorbing our ideas and proposals, and much of that spirit is based on respect and confidence in Piet’s ability to shape Hino’s new structure and identity.
“This company is a great token of success and I expect only further growth lies in its future.”
According to Van Wyk de Vries, the challenges, excitement and support of the past three years have allowed his illustrious career to end on a high note. “The cooperation and good attitudes of everyone involved in this metamorphosis, from Hino Limited Japan, to Toyota SA, to our own head office and dealers, has marked this project as a very special period in my career,” he admitted.
Toyota SA hosted a gathering at its head office in Woodmead on Friday 24 July, for dealers, fellow Toyota colleagues and honoured guests who have shared a business relationship with Van Wyk de Vries over his long tenure as a member of the Toyota Group.
Kirby and president and CEO of Toyota SA, Johan van Zyl, spoke of Van Wyk de Vries’ 25 years at Toyota, first in after-sales and finally heading up the truck division, as well as how instrumental he had been over that period of time in the growth of both Toyota and Hino.
Van Wyk de Vries rounded off the fond farewells by thanking everyone he has shared time with at Toyota, commending the enthusiasm and loyalty of the team, and wishing Hino the best of luck for the future.