Kelston named Renault SA’s top micro dealership
The team at Kelston Renault in Komani are celebrating their win in the micro category of the carmaker’s Dealer of the Year Awards.

Eastern Cape auto retailer Kelston Motor Group has been named Renault South Africa’s Dealer of the Year in the micro category for the second year running.

Kelston Renault in Komani took the coveted title, following in the footsteps of its sister dealership in Makhanda who triumphed the previous year.

Renault SA’s Dealer of the Year Awards, held in Johannesburg recently, honoured brand dealers’ unwavering commitment to excellence and outstanding contributions throughout 2023.

The original equipment manufacturer bases its awards on a 70 per cent sales (vehicles and parts) component and 30 per cent quality (including corporate social investment initiatives).

In terms of the latter, Kelston Renault has become synonymous with programmes that boost the Chris Hani district.

Dealership staff believe in paying it forward to the people who support them and have therefore become involved in everything from town clean-ups to supporting local sporting events.

Dealer principal Johan van der Merwe, who helped launch the shop in 2019 before returning permanently in 2021, is understandably ecstatic about the award.

“The mood is awesome. This is not my achievement, it’s my team’s achievement,” he said.

“All the hard work they’ve been putting in . . . all the thanks go to them. The spirit is high, it’s a good atmosphere.”

Kelston Renault comprises a staff complement of only 11, but they have proved that dynamite comes in small packages.

They run the sales, parts and workshop departments, including other support duties, while Kelston’s head office in Gqeberha takes care of the administrative work.

Van der Merwe said aside from always hitting their sales targets and maintaining a positive mindset, his team had done “nothing special” to win the award.

“Because our team is small, you can always get them together. This means everyone understands what’s going on.”

“If you look at the [2024] standings now, we are on top of the pile again. So hopefully we will be in line for the award again next year.”

Much of the dealership’s success can be put down to targeting and cornering the first-time buyer market; those who have just left school or are starting out in their careers.

More affordable models like the Kwid very much fit the bill in this regard.

Van der Merwe, who has more than 20 years of experience in the motor trade, said there was also a portion of the town’s motoring public that was loyal to the brand.

They tended to return to buy higher-end models like the Kiger, Captur and Koleos as their careers took off.

“Especially in the Eastern Cape, you need a car that’s higher off the ground [because of the state of the roads]. It’s why SUVs and 4x4s have become so popular.”

Van der Merwe quipped that in some instances drivers might even need a heavy-terrain vehicle “just to go to the café”.

He was positive about what the future held, especially with Renault having brought several exciting new models to market.

“The new Duster, for example, is amazing.”

Van der Merwe, who hails from Secunda in Mpumalanga, entered the motor industry in 2002. For most of his career he specialised in parts and workshops before taking up a sales position in 2015.

He moved to Komani in 2018 after being offered the DP position.