Opperman-Thiels Auto Body Repairs, established way back in 1980 by Denys Opperman’s father. It has taken a few decades to achieve this state-of-the-art Namibian repair centre. As a qualified body repair technician, when his father opted to retire in 2009, Denys and the new management team began to increase the company’s growth path which is built on good quality repairs and a huge customer word-of-mouth retention business ethic.
Denys now points proudly to a wall full of approval certificates for factory approved repairs to damaged vehicles that they undertake.
The open plan work space covers some 3000 square metres with built-in triple spray booths and a full dust free Aer-o-cure flatting station. On the equipment side the company have invested heavily through the years with Car-o-Liner benches and approved spot welding machines. “This always helps,” says Denys, “to deliver to our customers a cutting edge repair of great quality to each of our customer’s vehicles. We’re seeing a great many write-off vehicles in Namibia on major repairs, but luckily we have a fast track repair system in place to cater for the smaller hits that seem to be increasing in our work split.”
Staff training has been a key part of the company’s ongoing success. In a country where a real skills shortage exists keeping your best workers happy has become a key area to keep in view between both spray painters and body repairers. “We currently employ a staff complement of some 42 workers. We are up-skilling these workers with help from Arvarto in South Africa. Their training is a web-based package and this format has definitely helped us.
“We aim to continue to develop our own in-house training for skills upliftment as Namibia sadly dropped out of the old style of apprenticeship programmes,” continued Denys, “that we have been working closely with the National Training Authority for the past two years to develop programmes for panel beaters and spray painters to achieve level four qualification standards. We have to continue to drive standards up in this industry.”
It is fair to say their greatest challenges have been the global economic crisis and the downturn of average people driving less because of constantly rising fuel prices. This has had a dramatic effect of many areas of motor repair.
Denys says that they are in good shape to take on this era of disruption. “Although we cater for large insurers and fleet operations, our vision is also to help every customer that appears at the front door. Having a full red seal qualification in spraypainting and panel beating has helped the company’s 40-year success story.
“It is really all about caring for your staff, customers and insurers and supply companies, in a sort of balancing act way,” concluded Denys.