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VDV Transport and Emile go full steam ahead

At an age when most people are thinking of retirement, Emile van der Vyver, owner of Van der Vyver Transport (VDV Transport) found himself at a crossroads: should he continue with the business, or opt for a “normal” existence without the pressure and stress associated with running a multi-million rand concern?

“He was in the business for the long haul”

VDV Transport and Freightliner

Emile then made the decision “that he was in the business for the long haul” and acquired another 20 Freightliner trucks from Sandown Commercial Vehicles Bellville – for Emile doesn’t believe in half measures!

“I have complete peace in my mind after making probably one of the most important decisions of my life and there is no looking back,” says a passionate as ever Emile. He adds: “If that means working for the rest of my life that is what I’ll do. I now work for the 250 people in our business who, in turn, provide for another 1 500 people. I consider myself fortunate to be able to make a contribution towards the lives of others.”

Emile had a long and illustrious career path before starting VDV Transport.

“My parents allowed me to find a job before completing school, which I still find surprising, even today,” he notes. He finished his apprenticeship and worked at a motor engineering company on automatic gearboxes before he became workshop foreman at a bodybuilding company.

He later accepted a position as a service advisor at a motor dealership where he wore a tie to work for the first time in his life! The same dealership then approached him to go into sales and, while Emile at first thought it was a crazy idea, he excelled in this position.

VDV Transport and Freightliner 2

His talent was noted by a friend, who suggested he joined a life assurance company as a representative. And although he first scoffed at this idea, he eventually spent nine years at the company! It was during this time that Emile bought his first truck together with his brother Corrie and later resigned from the company to devote all his time to what later became Van der Vyver Transport (VDV Transport).

Today the company boasts more than 100 trucks and provides complete transport solutions to many of South Africa’s blue-chip companies.

There is much one can learn from Emile’s take on business. Here we share some of Emile’s beliefs.

Problems

A problem is not a problem if there is a solution, Emile believes. That is why he prefers to refer to challenges.

Challenges

“We are hungry for business and not afraid of challenges. We challenge the challenges.”

Perseverance and determination

The first truck Emile bought was involved in three major crashes and spent eight of its 15 months off the road. At one stage they had seven trucks on the road and the same number of major accidents in the same year! And while some may have thrown in the towel in the light of such hardship, it is just not part of Emile’s makeup.

Relationships

“Business is built on relationships.” Emile’s suppliers are as important to him as his customers. He has been loyal to some of his suppliers for more than 30 years!

Don’t rush slow things

Not afraid to learn from others, Emile took it to heart when one of his drivers said to another to “not rush slow things”.

“I have learnt to not force an issue, but to stand back and look at something from a different angle.”

Gratitude

Emile looks back at his more than four decades of business success with much gratitude. “It’s only been Grace,” he says.

Living life to the full

“Live with the passion and drive as if you’ll live forever, but be prepared for the inevitable,” is Emile’s motto.

Long-term vision

As an entrepreneur and successful businessman, Emile looks to the future.

“My life is about the building and development for the future,” he says.

 

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Tristan Wiggill
Seasoned writer, journalist, photographer, and editor.
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