Port Elizabeth – “I have been going to the office for 60 years but I have never worked for a day in my life. I enjoyed every single day.”
These were the words of Walter Martin (80), who retired this week after spending sixty years selling General Motors vehicles on the West Rand at his family dealership, Tommy Martin.
Martin loved his work so much that he often joked by telling staff he has a coffin at the office in case they needed to carry him out.
Tommy Martin started as a service and petrol station in 1935 by the late Thomas Walter Martin. In 1936 the garage turned into Tommy Martin’s Motors and was awarded a General Motors franchise.
Martin started at the family business in 1954 after leaving school. His first position was selling spare parts behind the counter before moving into vehicle sales under the then sales manager.
After working at the company for five years Martin’s father passed away in 1959. His mother, Gretha took over the business until Martin was called upon to steer the ship ten years later.
“Luckily for me I have always been exposed to the motor trade. My father did not cut me any slack. I had to work my way through the ranks and prove myself. ”
Martin attributes the success of the business to customer loyalty. He believes that is what kept the business going for the last 79 years.
“The way you treat your customer is what keeps them coming back. The customer has always and will always be king. The personal, sincere and honest contact we have with our customers is our strength.
“There has been many repeat customers over the years. In fact, we now have customers’ grandchildren coming into the dealership to buy cars.”
Martin said his father was so adamant that the customer should come first that he has never owned or driven a new vehicle. The customer always had to buy and drive it first.
He recalls many fond memories during his 60 year tenure, one of them having to physically drive their shipment of vehicles to their dealership due to there being no railway line or other means of getting the vehicles there back in the day.
Having held office for 60 years, Martin has also witnessed many changes in the motor trade.
“Today’s fancy gadgets and technology has made life a lot easier for the customer. In my day you only needed a bloudraad and a pliers to fix a vehicle but now you need a degree,” Martin said jokingly.
Because his two daughters has no interest of following in his footsteps Martin is wrapping up his business affairs. After six months of negotiations General Motors is selling the dealership to a preferred buyer.
“I am sad because it is the end of an era.”
Although Martin has no set plans of what he will be doing just yet, the keen hunter and fisherman said he will spend more time enjoying his hobbies.
The qualified pilot has also recently been cleared medically to fly his plane and will be taking to the skies to Mozambique more regularly.
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Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/sixty-years-on-the-job/57834/2015/12