OAC members had the opportunity to receive first-hand education and experience in the South African automotive aftermarket during the group’s recent trade mission to the country.

The Council coordinated the trade mission for its aftermarket exporter members in conjunction with the Department of Commerce (DOC) and its South African consulate. Members also had the opportunity to participate in Automechanika Johannesburg, which was held during the OAC Trade Mission.

“This trip was a success in just about every aspect,” said Joe De Santino, president, JDS Worldwide Corp. and member of the OAC Board of Directors. “Kudos to the OAC, DOC and Jaisvir R. Sewpaul, DOC senior commercial specialist in South Africa, who did an outstanding job.”

Members were prepared for one-on-one match-making sessions with potential South African channel partners by Hedley Judd, associational director of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation. Judd discussed the South African car culture, noting that the average car tallies between 20,000 – 30,000 kilometers per year, due to the country’s long distances. As in many markets, South African new car sales dropped dramatically during the 2009 recession, but it is recovering now, he said.

South Africa parts sales exceeded R65 billion ($9 billion), with 35 percent OE, 45 percent export and 20 percent aftermarket, Judd commented. The country’s aftermarket distribution chain includes suppliers, warehouse distributors, wholesalers and retailers, which include both franchised and independent outlets. Car repair and maintenance is performed in franchised or independent workshops and fitment centers, or by “do-it-yourself,” according to Judd.

“Hedley gave us a very good market briefing,” De Santino said. “It was a great help and gave me a perspective of the market even before reaching my first appointment.”

The OAC promotes the sale in foreign markets of automotive and heavy duty products manufactured in North America. For more details about its programs and services, visit www.oac-intl.org/ or contact Ben Brucato, bbrucato@aasa.mema.org.

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