Engen’s heart for the youth beats strongly in Joe Kanana
With youth development playing a central role in the company’s extensive social investment, sponsorship and transformation initiatives, Engen is dedicated to positively engaging and contributing to the self-sustainability of young South Africans.
One man who understands the benefits of growing your own timber better than most is Joe Takalani, who – at 28 years of age – became the owner of the Engen Kanana Service Station, based in the North West province.
Joe grew up in a family that worked together. “From a really early age I worked in my old man’s grocery store, and as a general labourer at a local brick plant,” remembers Joe. “My understanding of the principles of business made for a great foundation and once I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I worked for Rand Merchant Bank in the Investment Banking Division up until October 2015.”
But a strong desire to enter the distribution side of the oil industry saw Joe swap the corporate world for the world of fuel and convenience marketing. “I identified a site that was the only one in its township and where I could see opportunity for improvement and growth. Engen’s brand and reputation gives one comfort that a significant portion of the market is guaranteed to begin with,” says Joe.
When a business changes hands, staff can typically be resistant to change, and new owners face uncertainty. Joe approached this challenge with a wisdom beyond his years, setting up an internal change management process whereby he spoke to employees on a regular basis, assuring them of their job security and establishing strong working relationships, whilst looking to create employment opportunities for youth.
“I own a group of companies where 80% of my staff compliment of 200 is made up of youth,” Joe observes. “You’ll find the same profile at my Engen site. After all, if we want to continue being recognised by the South African youth as the country’s coolest petrol brand we have to do what we can to develop our youth.”
Joe Mahlo, General Manager: Engen Sales and Marketing says the company continues to focus on consistently reinvigorating the brand and investing much effort into remaining an attractive stop-over for youth. “Engen enjoys the largest service station footprint in South Africa which is why, as a brand, it is important for us to move into exciting, innovative spaces where we can engage customers and interact with them.
“Winning the “Coolest Petroleum Brand” in the 2016 Sunday Times Generation Next survey for the sixth consecutive year further affirmed that the country’s youth have backed Engen. We owe our brand recognition and loyalty across all audiences (including the youth) to the company’s constant innovation and customer service focus.
“And with men like Joe Takalani in the driver’s seat, plans for the journey ahead for the business and the Engen Kanana Service Station would seem to be in very good hands,” adds Mahlo.