Looking back and pushing forward

2019 was a year to be reckoned with, marked by a struggling economy, political and social turmoil and low consumer and business confidence.

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), a key player in the automotive aftermarket sector, representing almost 8 000 members, says in spite of the increased financial pressure on consumers and many business closures, the RMI’s strong drive on member retention ensured a growth in membership numbers for the last financial year,” says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the RMI.

Olivier says transformation and training and skills development remain top priorities for the sector. “The RMI is fully committed to accelerating transformation together with its various associations and members, government and key social partners, including organised social labour.” He said a particular focus area for the RMI is the development of small and growing black-controlled business enterprises.

“Transformation is far more than just BEE compliance. It is much bigger, and, as a leading voice in the automotive aftermarket sector, the RMI wants to encourage existing businesses to find ways of supporting small business, pulling in the thousands of informal businesses that exist in the sector.”

Eighty percent of accredited RMI business owners are in fact small to medium size business owners and this is where the growth and employment opportunities that are going to drive the economy will come from. Olivier says if we can start migrating the informal business into the formal sector so that they become compliant and meaningful contributors to the economy, we will have a far stronger sector.

To this end, good progress has been made in association with the National African Association for Automobile Service Providers (NAAASP). During the year, 356 NAAASP members were granted free membership to the RMI and a national roadshow aimed at equipping these new members for business growth was presented, together with Small Business Development Agency (SEDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The design of a NQF level 2 course for NAAASP members was commissioned during the year and a pilot project with 42 NAAASP members was also successfully launched.

A transformation workshop was also held at the end of 2019 with key industry stakeholders including SEDA, NAAASP, Automotive Industry Development Corporation (AIDC), merSETA and the DTI to set some measurable benchmarks.

On the training front, the RMI continued to seek solutions and drive projects to support employers with re-skilling and upskilling their employees, in its quest to deliver the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) solutions for the industry. Olivier says good progress has been made and a partnership with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has been established to work together on a merSETA-commissioned research project. “The project developed a three-step online Return on Investment (ROI) calculator to encourage employers to employ apprentices, as this is one of the cornerstones of 4IR,” he says.

During the year, progress was also made on the establishment of a professional body for the industry, and the initial investigations have now been condensed into a suitable electronic member management information system platform, which meets the SAQA recognition requirements.

Through its regional presence and various initiatives, the RMI again assisted members in the areas of skills development, employment equity and other projects. “The RMI regions are geared to deliver quick and efficient service to our members. The regions were particularly successful in addressing and resolving IR issues,” says Olivier.

Regulatory compliance remains challenging and in this regard the RMI’s Regulatory Compliance Department continues to provide members with assistance in managing the risks and challenges associated with the quagmire of Government compliance guidelines and requirements. Olivier says the ultimate aim, as an organisation, is to ensure that members conduct their businesses in full compliance with all national and international laws and regulations that pertain to the motor industry.

The RMI’s Compliance Department continued its strong working relationships with the SABS and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS). Two special projects were launched during the year – the RMI Regulatory Compliance Manual was approved by the RMI board, and Project Compliance was launched to curb illegal businesses in the industry. “The RMI takes a dim view of any illegal businesses, as they pose serious threats to health and safety, the environment, and compromise the safety of road users and the general public” he says.

“As an organisation we continue our single-minded focus on delivering on our promise to business that belonging to the RMI is better business and for consumers that our voice is your peace of mind,” concludes Olivier.