There may be a perception that the motor industry requires mostly able-bodied people because of the manual labour required, however, there are exceptional people living with disabilities steering themselves up the career ladder, and inspiring others to do the same.
“We often see remarkable people in our workspace, but when someone has faced obstacles and is able to find success, this is even more noteworthy,” says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI). “An example of this triumph over adversity is Kyle Louw, a paraplegic in Bloemfontein. Kyle is a daily reminder that there are incredible opportunities for people living with disabilities to work in the motoring industry as mechanics, salespeople, fitters and business owners, or whatever career path they might choose.”
Kyle, who lost the use of his legs after an accident at age 13, had always been interested in fixing cars and was at his dad Clive’s workshop every day after school to learn and to help. Clive started his business, Bloemfontein Diesel Tech, in 1995 to service and repair mechanical VE and inline pumps. This later expanded to include DENSO common rail pump systems as well as full-service bays. Clive is also the Free State and Northern Cape representative of the South African Diesel Fuel Injection Association (SADFIA), a proud association of the RMI.
Clive passed on his love of the motoring industry to Kyle, who, after finishing high school, enrolled in an apprenticeship, passed his trade test, and became fully qualified six years ago. The workshop needed a few modifications to ensure he could work efficiently including adjusting the height on some workbenches and tables, and tweaking the equipment to allow him to slide under cars. With these adjustments Kyle has been able to do exactly the same work as his able-bodied colleagues, and his long-term goal is to take over the family business when his father retires.
“It’s important to apply yourself, and put your heart and soul into your work,” says Kyle. “There are many ways to accommodate your disability so don’t be afraid to apply for your dream job.”
Olivier is excited about the motor industry becoming more inclusive and opening up more opportunities for everyone who is interested, “As an organisation RMI welcomes the participation of people living with disabilities into the workforce. We strongly believe in giving opportunities to all.”