Friday, 28 February 2014

A gloomy time in South Africa’s 4x4 accessory industry is coming to an end – so it seems.

2013 was a turbulent time for the 4x4 accessory industry. Lionel and Annalie Lewis lost the sole agency to import TJM products into SA. I imagine it was a shocker for LA Sport, but I am sure they will survive. The new agents for TJM and XJS suspension is called TJM-Africa, and their headquarters is the former LA Sport store in Menlyn.

4x4-MegaWorld hasn’t been in the news much– and that alone is probably good news. Their stores are broadening their appeal as they stock more and more camping equipment to supplement their well-known brands like ARB and OME. The drop in the rand value has no doubt put their foundation products, which are imported, under huge pressure as prices have been forced to rise.

Ezi-Awn have launched several new products including a range of roof-racks. And their roof tents and awnings are as popular as ever.

Alu-Cab is as busy as always. It must surely be one of the busiest workshops in the country. And while they turn out canopies and vehicles like a Pezz-dispenser, they still manage to create some new products – like their new awning. I have not seen it up close yet.

But probably the best news of all is that one of the foundation companies in this industry, 4x4 African Outback – Big Country, has reopened its doors. They closed shop after a strike that threatened the business, and everyone, including the owners, lost their jobs. This was no doubt thanks to the unions, who care much more about personal power than people. It was this kind of thinking that destroyed so many industries in the UK through the ‘70s and ‘80s. But they are back! Their ‘under-construction’ website has their details.

As for 2014, the industry is talking positive, and that it’s looking good. A welcome upturn is under way. And South African companies are getting better and better at getting their products overseas. For example, Front Runner, National Luna and Ezi-Awn are well represented at the Outdoor Expos in the UK.

There was a new SA 4x4 TV show, called That 4x4 Show. I heard little about it, and that’s good. Because if people really hate something, they generally talk about it. It sounds like it was a success.  And I've always believed, competition is good. I am back with a full TV series in 2014, broadcasts beginning in late October. It will be shot in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Scotland, UK and Arizona USA.

I'll be in the country from shooting most of April and part of May, and then again in June and July. If you have a 4x4 product that you would like to feature on my show - don't be shy. I'm interested!

Best as always


Photos show my cruiser on display at TJM's new headquarters in Menlyn, Pretoria East.  I am seriously looking forward to a warm sun on my back - and hearing my Cruiser rumble again.