Growing up with brothers is where Santie Boshoff says her love for cars started. They wouldn’t let her play with their cars so she would build her own. This can-do attitude has held Santie in good stead since she married into the industry and then became an integral part of it when they opened an auto body repair business in Bela-Bela 34 years ago.
Boshoff (59) has owned and run BB Auto Body Rebuilds, a member of the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA) and proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), on her own since 2010. She grew up in Bela-Bela and looks back fondly and with gratitude on the early years when her and her late husband opened their shop.
“When we first opened, I was secretary, flatter, paint mixer and even estimator. This is how I learned the business, alongside my husband. I was privileged to be skilled by the best – he was one of the first journeymen in training at the Olifantsfontein training centre.
“Today, I am in a position to show my colleagues and staff I have the necessary skills and knowledge to run a successful business we can continue to build together.”
Despite her years of experience, people still underestimate Boshoff’s knowledge of the industry, but she has proven women can do anything men can do – often even better.
“It is definitely no longer just a man’s playing field and I want women to realise that. So many single moms, for example, need to work and the industry is open to all. If there was a trade for strip and assemble I know many women who would take first prize for perfection and neat work!
“My advice to women interested in entering the industry is to go for it. Step up and take on the challenge. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”
She adds that it is a tough industry and there are many challenges.
“You need to stay focused and ensure you are up to date with the latest developments. I love this about the industry though; there is never a dull moment. We are always evolving.”
SAMBRA is an important partner to have, Boshoff says. “They are the backbone of the industry, keeping us informed and always there to help.”
Like so many other businesses, lockdown has not been easy on BB Auto Body Rebuilds.
“We had to learn to adapt to this new normal. Fortunately, the farmers and lodges in our area are trading as essential services so we have managed to keep the shop busy most of the time.”
Her yellow VW Beetle is her favourite car and Santie’s dream is for her grandchildren to continue the legacy by taking over the family business.