The taxi industry in South Africa is often followed by an amazing amount of statistics, shocking headlines and seen in a less than desirable light by motorists in general. Automotive Refinisher magazine decided to delve into this industry to see how repair is covered in this sector.
SA Taxi, a major subsidiary of Transaction Capital, is a vertically integrated business platform that improves the sustainability of the minibus taxi industry and the communities it serves.
Clients of SA Taxi are those who would be seen as high-risk profile clients by banks and wouldn’t normally be considered by them. Their customers are usually members of affiliated taxi associations. South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) recently acquired 25% in SA Taxi and in doing so they aim to overcome financial challenges within the industry. This move has further helped SA Taxi understand the unique needs of taxi owners more. They currently finance over 31 000 vehicles and have an insurance book, through SA Taxi Protect, of over 40 000 clients.
SA Auto Repairs have two separate workshop buildings. The first is the panelbeating shop with an internal refurbishment capacity of 220 mini-bus taxis per month. The panel workshop boasts 130 work stations and seven spray booths. This workshop has a surface area of 20 000 square metres. The other facility is the Mechanical and Warranties Workshop which has 42 lifts and employs 60 technicians with the ability to rebuild over 200 vehicles per month.
Within these two facilities they employ over 385 people. Herein lies the greatest challenge of the company, to ensure that this huge staff complement stays happy and enjoys their work environment to the full.
To make workflow easier they have split their type of repairs into four sections of Rand value to quantify and establish optimum workflow. It also allows the client a better understanding of their key-to-key time to be expected. This ranges from small, medium, large and extra-large work that needs to be done on each vehicle.
R-M is SA Taxi’s chosen refinish brand from BASF Coatings as in their eyes they get the best coverage and prices by using this quality brand of refinish. RSB provide excellent service back-up and training to the company which enables them to get the very best from their product and bottom line. SA Taxi have their own in-house apprenticeship programme as well.
What makes this repair shop different to others is the fact that they are largely repairing the same model of vehicle day in and day out, which makes them experts on their subject and helps a great deal in achieving the best repair possible. Given the focus – there have been innovations by the mechanics, some of which have been patented and SA Taxi has paid out over R1million in innovation incentives.
SA taxi needs to be seen to be believed as the premises are huge and the number of vehicles being repaired on-site for both mechanical and body repair is simply mind-boggling. It’s an essential cog in the wheel of ensuring that our largest public transport system remains well repaired and focuses on commuter safety by repairing taxis correctly, making it a safer way to travel for the majority of South Africans.
Story by Claire Macfie
Pics by Jay Groat