Man of many talents

Man of many talents

Dewald Olivier is the senior manager of customer service and marketing planning at Hino. From humble beginnings as a diesel mechanic apprentice in Durban just 16 years ago, his climb up the ladder has been swift and impressive. CLAIRE RENCKEN reports.

Olivier has been with Hino for eight years, but his relationship with Toyota is 16 years old – his entire working life. “I’ve grown along with the company. It started at a Durban dealership with the apprenticeship, and then I was at Dan Perkins Trucks in Pinetown, then Toyota Trucks, and now Hino. I’ve gradually gained more responsibility and inherited more departments over the years,” he smiles.

On any given day at the office, Olivier has to wear three hats – firstly that of long-term product planner and strategist, secondly that of customer services manager and thirdly that of marketing planner. “In the customer services division, I have quite a lot of staff members reporting to me, so that’s quite a time consuming aspect of my job. I only took over the marketing department about a month ago, so I’m still finding my feet in terms of dealing with the media,” he elaborates. And in his spare time (if there’s any left) he’s also studying through Unisa. Quite a balancing act!

He agrees wholeheartedly with his co-workers about the highly competitive market, especially since the introduction of Chinese brands, among others. And yes, customers are that much more demanding because they know they have so many choices, but for Olivier this is exciting. “It drives the market into new areas. The customer focus on reducing operating costs, extending life expectancy of the vehicles, and managing life cycle costs all force us to explore new territories. Like hybrid vehicles, to name but one example.”

A challenge we face in the South African trucking industry, is to keep up with international trends, says Olivier. “The trucking industry in our country is still a bit behind in terms of our products. Our fuel quality, for example, is not up to international standards. The only way to overcome that is for government to work together with suppliers, and customers, in order for us to evolve into something better.”

October 2011 saw the launch of Hino Care – the company’s umbrella initiative for improving operating costs. For Olivier, that has been an exciting development.

In terms of the Scott Byers awards, Olivier is every bit as modest as everyone else at Hino, it seems. “We humbly accept this accolade, and we are not boastful – we don’t think we’ve done something exceptional. It’s part of the Hino culture to address every complaint we receive, and also to listen to any suggestions anyone may make. Credit must go to our dealers; these awards are a tribute to them and their attitude towards their customers.”

With attitudes such as these and such a team spirit, Hino, and also this ambitious young man, are poised to achieve many more great things in the years to come.

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