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Interview with CEO of Aristopix Fleet Management Services

Ms Vuyisa Mfaka, CEO of Aristopix, is a veteran in the fleet management industry. She has worked for large corporates (including Daimler Fleet Management) and is one of the only black females running a fleet management company in South Africa.

What services does Aristopix offer?

Our main focus is providing our clients with comprehensive fleet management solutions. In addition to ensuring speedy turnaround times for downtime units, we also offer clients the benefit of vehicle replacement. According to our Service Level Agreement (SLA), if one of the cars in our fleet breaks down then we have an obligation to get our client mobile within four hours, either by means of roadside assistance or providing a relief vehicle. The normal situation in government departments
and municipalities often results in vehicles sitting in workshops for three months or longer because, in such situations, no-one is accountable. In the case of King Sabatha Dalindyebo (KSD) municipality, where we have a five-year Full Maintenance Lease contract (FML), vehicle movements are monitored within section perimeters and alarms are given if drivers move beyond those perimeters. Outsourcing this critical function not only allows the client to continue with its core business, it also affords them numerous financial gains, one from being able to remain focused on their business mandate and, secondly, not forfeiting on maintenance and/or widespread driver-related vehicle abuse.

What is your competitive advantage?

Through our in-house operations the client leverages greater benefits from us compared to larger fleet management companies such as Bidvest Leasing or Avis Fleet Management. Such hands-on services that we offer circumvent onerous claims for vehicle damage after the lease period, as Aristopix deals with the daily logistics of running its fleet first-hand. I think it’s because the size of our business allows us to be able to respond quickly, because we are right there. A personal relationship is then established with the clients because the people who they speak to are the same people who are running their operations at grassroots level and will actually be directors of the company. This enables us to implement speedy decision-making by cutting through the red tape.

Who is your major client at the moment?

Our main focus is the KSD muni­cipality (our Mthatha office is primarily focused on servicing them), along with other public sector clients. A five-year fleet management contract has been signed with KSD whereby a Service Level Agreement (SLA) was entered into with Aristopix under which we are held accountable for KSD’s fleet of 66 leased vehicles, in addition to managed maintenance of their own fleet.

What are Aristopix’s growth prospects?

Right now our focus is within the government environment. Our business model is designed to assist government and it holds us accountable for fleets and infrastructure development. When we started we were only a leasing company that leased vehicles to clients over a period of time. An area of growth since then was when we got involved with Public Works, and that’s when we saw things start to develop. We started a joint venture with a qualified company that had an active grading in the relevant category of works, and now we are even building roads. It’s exciting seeing the scope of our business broaden and at this very time we are working at various sites in the region in road construction.

What are the industry trends right now?

There are always new trends, always new things happening. Everyone is still using GPS, but everything is now almost completely web-based. Green footprint kind of trends have just come alive and this is particularly important in the transport industry right now. Everyone is talking about green cards and managing their vehicles responsibly in terms of emissions for the green environment – our own responsibility is to make sure that our fleets comply with these regulations.

How has Aristopix played a role in job creation?

For the past five years we have been on the forefront in terms of creating jobs in the KSD and Border regions of the Eastern Cape through our success with vehicle leasing, and this has enabled us to create employment both directly as well as indirectly. Five years ago we took a financial risk when we embarked on a huge capital outlay of R43-million on our fleet. This was a capitalisation which the KSD municipality did not have, but as we were able to raise the money it enabled us to win their business and this, in turn, enabled us to create over 500 jobs in the area. On the operations side we have also contributed in terms of job creation, through it might not be directly linked to Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy. In order for Operation Phakisa to function effectively there also needs to be road transport in place for coastal shipping of mineral resources that have been mined inland. For this to happen our road infrastructure and transportation networks need to be as efficient as possible.

What do you believe is important to stimulate job creation?

Creating jobs in whatever sphere requires an effective value chain. Looking at the Eastern Cape, for instance, the Port of Ngqura still has capacity for further growth, and this is where the province can benefit, for instance by being able to move minerals such as manganese and iron ore from the inland mines to the port. A transport network like this would be an incredible way to connect the mines in the Northern Cape to the Ocean Economy, in so doing making it a viable connecting line between our two provinces. Government needs to build railway lines and develop the road infrastructure that will be effective to take these minerals to the sea. All things form part of a value chain, and we’re proud to be a part of that chain.

Top image: the Aristopix team.

Originally published in the 2016 edition of Eastern Cape Business, the premier business and investment guide to the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.


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