Today, November 8th 2019, we say goodbye to Jasper Hafkamp, a man who came to our shores three years ago as head of Mercedes Benz South Africa – now divisionalised within the Daimler Group as Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa – who flies out tonight to Europe to head up the global marketing operations of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
It’s been a great three-year ride for this man who had big boots to fill after the late, great legend Kobus Van Zyl – and he has done so admirably. Not only did he integrate well with the local company but also with local customers and especially, he laughs, “with the Afrikaans guys who refused to speak English. That’s when my Dutch background came in handy.”
During his time here, he oversaw a complete change in the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio with the introduction of the new Actros and Arocs ranges as well as a full extension of the FUSO range. He also had to face numerous challenges in steering the company forward during what has been a very tough trading environment.
FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary popped in to say cheers and to bring to our readers his personal views in the accompanying video of what he experienced during his three year stay here. As he says, there is a lot he has learnt that he can take with him and implement in his new position as head of global marketing for Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
One thing that struck him is the high level of professionalism exhibited by South Africa’s transport operators. Another is the optimistic nature of South Africans and he urges all to keep up that optimism. “Don’t wait for everything to get better. Ignite yourselves and continue to invest in new technologies,” he says. As he points out in the video, South Africa was the first overseas market to receive Euro5 specifications on the new Actros – “and we brought it in without any legislation. We didn’t wait.”
So it’s ‘totsiens’ to a man who has added a lot of value on many fronts during his three-year stay in our country and will continue to do so in his new position where he will be based at Daimler AG’s head-office in Stuttgart. This means that South Africa will now have a man who knows our market well sitting in the core of Daimler’s international operations – and you can be sure that he will put South Africa’s case forward bearing our market’s best interests in mind.
Jasper, go well good man and thank you for your positive contribution to South Africa. We all wish you the best of luck on your new road ahead. And please let us know the reaction of the head-office caterers when you push aside those German Bratwurst sausages at your first board meeting and insist on a boerewors roll for lunch. And they have to braai it on a proper braai on the grass in front of the office ‘kay.
PS. We hope your flight takes off given that, as I write, Lufthansa flight crews have embarked on a two-day strike for better wages and pensions, which, according to Lufthansa, has resulted in the cancellation of 1 300 flights affecting 180 000 passengers. You see, it’s not only South Africa that has strikes but, I bet they can’t Toyi-Toyi like our strikers can. If you find yourself stranded at the airport due to this Lufthansa strike, do as South Africans would do. Head for the nearest pub and while you’re sipping on a fine brandy and Coke, watch this video. Then, after a few more of those Branders and Cokes, go out and teach those flight crew members how to protest proper. Click here