How James Moore built Fleet Dynamics into a force in the Eastern Cape
Despite the country experiencing sluggish economic growth, 2015 was a particularly good year for Fleet Dynamics, a leading truck sales and repair company with dealerships spanning the breath of the Eastern Cape. The company completely overhauled their East London branch and surpassed their sales records in June, August and October.
“Between September and October, we took orders for more than 20 extra heavy commercial vehicles. We have very blessed and very lucky to receive so many orders at the end of the year in a subdued market,” James Moore, serial entrepreneur and the owner of Fleet Dynamics, told Business Link.
“Staff-wise, we are also trying to do our bit and have taken on-board apprentices for skills development in our East London and Mthatha branches. We are also mentoring apprentices from within our company so as to develop them for future opportunities within the business.”
Moore says they are looking to carry this momentum into 2016 with the upgrading of their Port Elizabeth and Mthatha dealerships.
“We are definitely seeing a lot of business potential in the Border-Kei area because of increased government expenditure on infrastructure projects,” he explains.
“There is also a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in that region so much that it has become a small, self-sustaining economy that is governed by its own rules. For example, there are more cash transactions that happen in there unlike in the greater economy, which is probably one of the reasons why the region is seeing sustained growth at a time when the economies of the Metropoles are battling!”
He founded Fleet Dynamics, which has its headquarters in Port Elizabeth, in 1999.
“We started out of the boot of a car with one mechanic doing fleet audits and minor repairs. While I maintained my day job to pay the bills, my wife (then girlfriend), worked at night to get fleet reports and invoicing done,” Moore remembers.
“I sold everything I owned including furniture and Standard Bank brilliantly assisted with a R10 000 overdraft as bridging finance to keep us afloat for the first few months.”
The company grew and they later moved into a small building and hired more staff.
“As technology improved and trucks became more advanced, we looked to secure OE relationships – BPW Axles, Afrit and GRW Trailer Manufacturers; an Iveco Truck Dealership, UD Trucks Dealership in East London, a Volvo and Renault Trucks Dealership in East London,” he describes.
Today, the company carries out a myriad of repairs including in-house electrical repairs, welding and fabrication, diagnostic tests, general servicing, parts supply as well as being the only accredited Eastern Cape workshop to carry out repairs on BPW axle trailers.
In addition, Fleet Dynamics is also the official dealer for Iveco in Port Elizabeth, Volvo/Renault and UD Trucks in East London, and UD Trucks in Mthatha. It now generates in excess of R130 million a year and won the UD Trucks Geared for Success Competition Medium Dealer Category in 2014 - not bad for a company started by someone who never wanted anything to do with trucks.
“My dad is a qualified engineer and worked at Toyota trucks for around 27 years. I had told myself I would stay clear of the trucks business but look at where I’m now.”
One thing he knew for sure though was that he wanted to be an entrepreneur.
“Even going to university was a problem for me because I just wanted to get into business – eventually, I had to relent and did a BCom. I think I was quiet headstrong and independent from any early age and I always wanted to be a master of my own destiny,” Moore, who also runs Thule Roofracks and Thule Brink in Port Elizabeth and East London among other business interests, recalls.
He launched his first venture while he was still in High School, in Durban, after spotting an opportunity in the merchandise business.
“I printed sports memorabilia - caps and T-Shirts, for one of the big soccer teams – without their permission. Back then, they did not have any.”
He would be dropped off at the stadium with one or two guys helping him with the selling, which worked for several games until one day when they were strong-armed to the changing rooms at Kings Park stadium and quizzed about his operation.
Moore, however, convinced the team not to shut him down but to partner with him. He would continue printing the merchandise and they would sell it and pay him a cut. The arrangement actually worked for around a year.
“We grew bigger and bigger until one day when they sent me a massive order. After I delivered it, I never heard from them again and they never paid me – that was my first business lesson!” he laughs.
In his second year at varsity, the bug bit again and he started an importing business, which distributed some of the world’s best wind-surfing and sporting equipment brands. He later closed it to focus on Fleet Dynamics.
Moore advises aspiring entrepreneurs to trust their gut feel. “The next thing is to do your proper diligence and put in hard work. I have tried many things and for every business that succeeded there are actually about three or four ideas that failed. In business, there is no one with a Midas touch in business.”
He says a good team was also essential for business success; “I must say, I have a great team because what we have achieved so far is not because of me driving them but because they are highly-motivated as a unit.”
Moore adds that one should also seek advice, always have a Plan B and a six-month plan.
Despite business challenges like low capital inflows and poor economies of scale, he remains an optimist.
“There is a lot of potential for business in the province but, currently, you have to physically go out there and knock on doors – even in rural areas and farms, to make it.
“That is going to change in five years; I totally believe in the Eastern Cape. Despite our best efforts not to grow, this is too much of a beautiful province with too much of untapped natural wealth for it not to grow. I bet you we will soon be booming – businesses from across the country have seen it and are beginning to invest here,” he said.
Away from business, Moore says his other passions are family and sport.
“I make time for my family and still paddle, wind surf, mountain bike actively. I also enjoy off-road motorcycling.”
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