Hino Motors Limited, of Japan, rewarded four dealer staff members from South Africa for their excellence in the annual Hino Skills Contest by taking them on a six-day educational tour of Japan recently. This was the fourth year that Hino Japan has honoured these skills contest winners in this manner.

The four people from South African Hino dealerships were: Vincent Nicol (Hino Parow, Cape Town) for parts sales; Annalise Scholtz (Hino Diaz Road, Port Elizabeth) for parts stores; Gonasagaren Naicker (Hino Mobeni, Durban) for vehicle sales; and Johannes Calitz (Hino Oranje, Bloemfontein) for technical service. Pieter Badenhorst, Senior Manager at Toyota SA’s Sandton Training Academy, accompanied them on the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

The four South African category winners were part of a group of 47 people from all 13 countries which had staged similar skills contests to encourage service excellence in the global Hino dealer network.

The week-long visit included visits to the Hamura manufacturing plant as well as to the Hino Tokyo dealership. The awards were made to all the winners at a gala function in Tokyo. In addition, there were a number of cultural tours to places of interest in Japan and the visit proved an ideal opportunity for opinion-sharing by the South Africans with dealer staff from a wide range of other countries.

Ignatius Muthien, Senior Manager – Special Projects at the Toyota Training Academy, explained that Toyota had instituted its skills contest 30 years ago and that the Hino programme has been running for 25 years and the contest has grown in complexity over this period. There are now 10 categories in the contest, with Hino dealer staff involved in four of them: Parts Sales, Parts Stores, Vehicle Sales and Technical Service. The initial entry amounts to more than 5 000 people.

The participants are thinned out with a series of online questionnaires, followed by regional and then national practical tests. The finals are now contested by the best-of-the-best people in each category and no longer according to positions in the regional finals.

“We are very proud of the way the Hino Skills Contest has been developed over the years as it plays a significant role in our overall Hino Total Support strategy which aims to strengthen the bonds between Hino Japan, Hino South Africa, our suppliers and dealers, for the ultimate benefit of our customers,” summed up Ernie Trautmann, the Vice President of Hino SA.