On 1 September, Maritz Botha took over the reins as Managing Director at BASF Coating Services South Africa. He took some time out of his busy schedule to introduce himself to BodyShop News Africa’s readers.
BODYSHOP NEWS: Tell us a bit about your personal history – where you grew up, where you went to school and studied, and where you currently reside.
MARITZ BOTHA: I grew up in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal. Things were different back then, and as kids, we spent our time on motorbikes between school and the beach, to the irritation of the local authorities.
I completed my matric year at Richards Bay High School as head boy. I then moved to Gauteng to study at the University of Pretoria where I completed a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering.
Today, I reside in the beautiful city of Pretoria and commute daily to the BASF offices in Midrand.
BSN: You are now MD at a top international company. Tell us about that journey. How your experience thus far will serve you in this new position.
MB: Hard work and dedication have always been at the core of my success in my journey, and I believe that is what has brought me to where I am today in my career. I joined South African Micro-Electronic Systems as a design engineer in the final year of my studies. After spending six years in a cubical designing micro-chips for energy metering, I joined Asic Design as a sales engineer.
The combination of technical and commercial experience proved vital when I was appointed by Bosch South Africa as Key Account Manager in 2006. I joined the management team at Bosch in 2012 as General Manager Responsible for Product Development, and Project and Change Management. In 2014, I took responsibility for automotive product sales in South Africa. After 16 years at Bosch South Africa, I joined BASF Coating Services South Africa as Managing Director and since September 2022, we have been creating chemistry together.
I am passionate about BASF, our people, our product and our customers. I acknowledge that people are our company’s biggest asset, and I intend to keep things very simple going forward – my target is to invest my time in our employees and in our customers.
BSN: What are your strengths that you will be bringing to the company? What do you hope to achieve during your time in this specific position?
MB: My extensive experience in technical sales, product development, project and change management, combined with a strong commercial acumen and experience in business analysis, forecasting, reporting and product costing, will be fundamental in the expansion of BASF Coatings’ business in South Africa.
I have a proven ability to manage key account relationships, large-scale international projects and achieving sales objectives in highly competitive markets.
I strive to grow the BASF Coatings brand in South Africa through motivated employees, dedicated service and industry-leading products. Our customers and suppliers are our partners in this mission.
BSN: With regard to the collision repair industry, what is unique to the South African situation from BASF’s point of view? What does the company hope to contribute to this market?
MB: Compared to Western Europe and the US, the local market is less formally structured.
The market is substantially less consolidated in South Africa and most shops operate independently. Many shops hold several approvals from OEMs, whilst overseas body shops often only cater for one OEM brand or group of brands. The informal sector outside of approved shops by now probably accounts for around 50 per cent of the volume in South Africa.
Our aim is to grow the industry with our partners, and we are confident that we can uplift the South African automotive refinish industry even further. We do this by supplying products of the highest quality standards, servicing customers through direct and indirect channels with skilled and motivated technicians, offering state-of-the-art digital solutions, and conducting training at customers and in our own training facility, the Refinishing Competency Centre in Midrand.
As an example, whilst holding approvals from several OEMs benefits the body shops to get more work in, it also comes with the challenge that the shops need to comply with many different standards.
Our premium brands, such as Glasurit, are approved by all major OEMs and this allows the shops to have one less issue to worry about. We further acknowledge how difficult it sometimes is to keep track of all the requisites. We therefore monitor it ourselves, engage with OEMs and even offer pre-audits to identify potential gaps together with the shop owner through our business assessment tool, Boost.
BSN: Internationally, what are the biggest challenges to the industry?
MB: The global energy crisis, steep inflation and the supply shortages affect many industries, including our own.
As a multinational company with a global supply chain network of chemical products, we can ensure a stable supply of our paint to our customers. However, we are not immune to the cost explosion of energy, raw materials and labour.
BASF Coatings Services strives to keep price adjustments minimal by implementing internal saving potentials. In addition, we ensure that assessors are kept up to date about any price adjustments and promote their implementation in the reimbursement structures.
The industry also faces a general skills shortage, especially in terms of qualified spray painters. BASF Coatings Services is an active partner of WorldSkills with Glasurit. Locally, we partner within the industry through our apprenticeship programme, which develops much-needed skills, fosters previously disadvantaged individuals and ensures diversity within our industry.
BSN: Is the South African political, economic and social situation affecting how BASF operates in the market, or is it basically the same as other global markets where BASF is active?
MB: South Africa definitely has a very special framework because of our history, leading to legislation around BBBEE and recently Right to Repair. BASF Coating Services acts as a partner to the industry by enabling talents to be noticed, trained and uplifted. We act as an ambassador for quality of repair by ensuring that the highest standards are adhered to in the body shops, whether it be in existing premium refinishing shops or new shops joining the industry.
Unfortunately, there are limited rules within the local industry when it comes to sustainability and environmentally friendly products. For example, solvent-borne paints are restricted in major parts of Europe, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) are closely monitored.
With the local lack of legislation, we still make the effort to provide more environmentally friendly products – after all, sustainability is deeply engraved in our company’s philosophy.
BASF Coating Services, together with our local partners, has to create more awareness, whether it be by offering our leading waterborne basecoat, VOC-compliant clearcoats or efficient undercoats.
BSN: How do you feel about the future of this industry in which BASF plays a very important role?
MB: We face many challenges in the industry, but I am very confident that by working together, these challenges will turn into opportunities. We are all fuelled by the same passion – ensuring quality repairs for the car enthusiasts in South Africa.
South Africans are inherently resilient, so whatever challenge comes our way, we deal with it and make the best of it.
BSN: What are some of the motor body repair products from the BASF stable that you are excited about? Any new products on the horizon to whet the industry’s appetite?
MB: I am extremely excited about the completely revamped undercoat portfolio that we are launching next year, providing our customers with efficient and sustainable products that work hand in hand with the rest of our portfolio.
We find ourselves on the brink of a revolution in the digital and service solution offering.
With Refinity, we are not just updating the well-known Profit Manager, but we are, instead, redefining the whole user experience and enhancing the tool with many more features – making it a cloud-based one-stop solution system for colour matching, paint knowledge and even product ordering, just to name a few.
BOOST is our new program that pushes consultancy in our industry to a completely new level. It is a holistic business assessment and support tool, tailored for the refinishing industry and fuelled by digitalisation, that will literally boost body shops across the country.
BSN: Finally, tell us about yourself with regard to who you are at home. Family? What are a few of your favourite things and hobbies? How do you relax?
MB: I am the proud father of three beautiful and energetic kids. We actively strive to instil hope and dreams in our children. We are blessed by grace, and we live with gratitude.
I love food except for sushi. I don’t like sushi.
My mountain bike is my personal stunt machine that keeps me young. After all, like mountains, life has its ups and downs.