Toropa Trading Enterprise is situated in Midway, Soweto in the Gauteng province. Victor Tshabangu is the founder & sole owner of this magnificent workshop, which today attracts customers from a diverse group of people. The workshop’s primary focus is mainly on two German made vehicles VW’s & Audi’s.
Victor started his mechanical career in 1990 in Mafikeng. Then in 1993 he moved to Johannesburg to study N4 Motor Mechanic at Johannesburg Technical College (JTC). Due to financial constraints he did not go back in 1994. Therefore he started to assist his father while fixing his friends vehicles in Molapo, Soweto. In 1995 he started to have his own customers and it was in 1995 that one of his customers encouraged him to register his own mechanic business.
In 2005 Toropa Trading Enterprise was registered as a legal business. Early March 2012 Victor was approached by Filpro Project Coordinators to join the Filpro ED Programme, while attending the training lessons he was encouraged to start looking for his own workshop due to the number of customers as well as compliance. In August 2012, Toropa Enterprise & Motor Mechanics moved to a new workshop in Midway-Soweto. Today the workshop accommodates +-10 vehicles at the same time and the company has three full time employees.
Like any other small business that is striving to grow, challenges will always be there. Finance is number one challenge that he encountered, but he never allowed that to shutter his dream of running a fully-fledged equipped workshop. Other challenges that he faced was winning the trust of his customers, especially the turnaround time when fixing customer vehicles.
When asking him how he overcome those challenges, Victor mentioned that the Filpro trainings assisted him a lot in ensuring that he meet most of his customer requirements. The most important challenge that Filpro assisted him to overcome was prioritizing his work. Today the training materials he received from the trainings are his referrals and also he pointed out that networking is also important in this industry.
Victor views the industry as open to all, but stressed that the most important aspect is compliance. He further stressed that the industry requires unity; interacting and regular industry related trainings are vital. Though the industry is still dominated by whites, it is tough to compete with them but not difficult to duplicate the things they do.
As mentioned above Victor emphasised that the program was an eye opener to him and he is not afraid to mention that all his achievements in growing his business were because of the courage he received from attending the programme trainings.
Before joining the programme in March 2012, his business never had any direction. He was only operating from hand to mouth, no savings, no planning, no bookkeeping, no invoicing, no job cards. Today he is able to do all of the above, all thanks to the Filpro intervention. Customer service was an issue, he never knew how to treat his customers but today he has grown his customer base tremendously.
Today he runs his business from an established state of the art workshop where he is paying a R9000 rental monthly. Before moving to the new premises his business had only one employee but now he managed to employ two more fulltime permanent employees.
Most importantly, the product training of the GUD brands as well as the Factory Tour in Durban also helped him to make informed decisions when fixing customer vehicles. His appeal to Filpro is to continue assisting other aspiring informal mechanics like him in other townships nationally.
Measurable achievements of his business were the makeover from operating at home to his new workshop in Midway, Soweto. “When looking back while I was operating from home and comparing to my new workshop it’s indeed not comparable. The kind of professionalism and growth on customer base is inevitable. If it was not the intervention and support from Filpro I would still be working from home” he said.
See gallery of pictures below:
The outside of Victor’s new workshop with Filpro sponsored signage
Victor displaying Filpro donated fender cover Victor and colleague busy at work
Victor’s workshop given a new make over by Filpro Project Coordinators