Meet The Team Series: Spotlight on Abie Kriek

Meet The Team Series: Spotlight on Abie Kriek
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Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at The South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association?

In our Meet The Team Series, you will be introduced to the dynamic SAMBRA team. Meet Randall, Abie, Khulu, Giselle and Kevin – the team taking care of business. Find out what they love about Motor Body Repair, their experience of working with SAMBRA and its members and what they do in their spare time.

This month, meet Abie Kriek, Associational Representative for the Free State, Southern & Eastern Cape.

Hi Abie! To kick things off, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to work in the motor body repair industry.

I started my career in the gold mining industry in January 1987, after completing two years of compulsory military service and was employed by Anglo Gold as a production mine overseer until 2001. I was involved in a blasting accident underground in 1995, severely damaging both ears’ hearing reserves. With the rapid hearing loss caused due to high noise levels exposure, I decided at the end of December 2001 to leave the mines. It was like, “Wow! What now?”.

Some of my rugby mates were Dent Doctor franchise owners at the time, and my dad was a car fanatic and loved driving nice cars, so I gave cars some thought. I loved nice cars and never missed an opportunity to take my dad’s cars out for a spin.

After meeting with Solly Heyns, the Dent Doctor Group Franchisor, I decided to get involved in the motor body repair industry by purchasing the Dent Doctor Port Elizabeth franchise at the beginning of 2002. Bloemfontein had a massive hailstorm early in 2002, and as Dent Doctor Port Elizabeth, we subcontracted repairing hail-damaged vehicles for the Dent Doctor Bloemfontein branch. I spent the next year and a half in the Dent Doctor Bloemfontein workshop, educating myself with the assistance of their staff in accident damage estimation, panel beating and spray painting.

As the owner of Dent Doctor Port Elizabeth, my motto was “If I am satisfied with the repair job, my clients will be as well”. Things in life for me are either wrong or right; there is no middle path! Employees are your most valuable asset and need to be looked after well in every aspect. It is crucial to have a dynamic team in place. The business was unfortunately liquidated in August 2012 and the position in SAMBRA came up in December 2012.

Who or what inspires you, and why?

My inspiration comes from faith, honesty, values, norms, and integrity which are some of the key fundamental pillars in life. The world is self-destructing because things that were wrong in the past are now acceptable to society. Making a positive difference and providing a value-added service, building new and maintaining old relationships amongst Motor Body Repairers in my area of responsibility makes my day.

What does your typical day as a SAMBRA Associational Representative (AR) look like?

Association representatives wear many hats. Our days, more often than not, are jam-packed. We get involved in all industry-related matters by assisting, guiding, training, providing information, handling queries, and sorting out member problems.

Sometimes we are organisers; sometimes, we are liaisons/mediators between members, insurers, and consumers.

Our primary responsibility remains to provide our members with the value-added service they deserve.

What is your main role as a SAMBRA AR?

Representing the RMI and SAMBRA to promote unified membership in the association. Keep members well informed of events, problems, and accomplishments and listen to their industry-related concerns in order to find solutions. Interfaces with regional RMI structures. Co-ordinate with SAMBRA regional chairs, vice chairs, membership and the SAMBRA National Director. Branding member businesses, managing and assisting regions to achieve the SAMBRA goals and strategic objectives to improve member relations and value-added services. Membership growth and retention of current members.

I also administer the Mazda Recommended Repairer program for SAMBRA members.

What is your favourite part of the job?

I was on the other side of the fence for ten years as a body shop owner, so I am aware of the frustrations motor body repairers experience daily, and today so even more. My favourite part of the job is getting involved and being equipped to make a positive difference for an MBR business.

What challenges face SAMBRA members in the motor body repair sector today, and how do you think, we as an industry could overcome this/these challenges?

I think we are all aware that the motor body repair industry faces a combination of challenges in today’s economic environment. Skilled labour shortages and supply chain issues are only two of those challenges.

Keeping up with the increasing cost of doing business, the advancement of technology and the rapid rate of inflation has a crippling effect on most of our member businesses.

There is, unfortunately not a quick fix to these problems. The motor body repair industry must consolidate, stand together, and unite.

In business you should never have all your eggs in one basket. You need a cushion to fall on when things go wrong.

Where do you see the motor body repair industry in 10-years’ time?

The introduction of new technologies is forcing all industry sectors to adapt to provide and maintain client service levels. As the complexity of these vehicles increases, motor body repair shops will have to invest time and money in training, obtaining factory certifications and investing in specialized equipment.

Would you recommend working in our industry, and what advice would you give to those looking to start a career in Motor Body Repair?

Yes. Locally and internationally, there is demand for qualified artisans in spray painting and panel beating repair trades, because it so specialised. These trades also offer a base for career development in the motor industry, because they provide a lot of opportunities.”

The motor body repair industry is a great industry to get involved in. Visit a reputable motor body repairer to see what it is all about. Specialized training from a trade school to become qualified is usually a requirement. To become a motor body repairer, you must enjoy tinkering with vehicles and have the right temperament.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love spending time with my family. We love nature and spend time out whenever we can. We are fortunate to live in Marina Martinique Jeffreys Bay with open seawater canals, so enjoy a boat cruise on the canal when possible.

I am a handyman and would take on most of the maintenance and repairs myself. I have a plan to fix everything. I also love doing woodwork and is the recognized master meat chef in our house. I played provincial senior rugby for Western Transvaal in my younger days and am still very interested in sport and love a good braai with family.

Read the first article in this series, Meet Randall Langenhoven –