Sur­pri­se re­ward for VW’s Wil­lie

Af­ter 44 y­e­ars of ser­vi­ce, com­pa­ny tre­ats em­ploy­ee to a gre­at day out of the of­fi­ce

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Nuus | News - S­te­fan Goo­sen

For 44 y­e­ars, Wil­lie Miya of W­hi­te Lo­ca­ti­on in Knys­na has been the go-to guy for your Volks­wa­gen parts in to­wn, or­de­ring and sel­ling them for the lo­cal de­a­lers­hip, but he ne­ver knew ex­act­ly w­hat the fac­to­ry he was or­de­ring the parts from look­ed li­ke, or how the parts we­re put to­get­her and ship­ped out.

That all chan­ged re­cent­ly w­hen his em­ploy­ers de­ci­ded Wil­lie de­ser­ved re­cog­ni­ti­on for his de­ca­des of loy­al­ty and hard work, and ar­ran­ged for him to see and ex­pe­rien­ce first­hand the fac­to­ry he has de­alt with on­ly te­lep­ho­ni­cal­ly for al­most half-a­cen­tu­ry.

A man kno­wn by his col­le­a­gues for his con­ta­gi­ous laugh, Wil­lie has be­co­me part of the fur­ni­tu­re, so to speak, at Volks­wa­gen Knys­na, staying with the com­pa­ny from one o­w­ner to the next. “In all my y­e­ars

I was ne­ver at the Ui­ten­ha­ge (Eas­tern Ca­pe) fac­to­ry, but oh my Lord, w­hat an ex­pe­rien­ce,” the 65-ye­ar-old fat­her of fi­ve said re­cent­ly. Meet­ing ‘the big man’ him­self

A­bout two weeks ago, em­ploy­ers Gi­de­on and Fran­cois K­noet­ze ar­ran­ged for Wil­lie to vi­sit the fac­to­ry, with w­hat was sup­po­sed to be a meet and greet with T­ho­mas S­chä­fer, the chair­man and ma­na­ging di­rec­tor of Volks­wa­gen Group SA, which tur­ned in­to ha­ving lunch with “the big man of the com­pa­ny” as Wil­lie puts it.

“W­hat an ex­pe­rien­ce it was! I thoug­ht the MD would be an old man, but he was youn­ger. Meet­ing him was the cher­ry on the ca­ke. I saw how the parts and cars we­re put to­get­her – a rug­by field is too small to fit in­si­de that fac­to­ry – and I e­ven saw all the old mo­dels I wor­ked with o­ver the y­e­ars. I’ve seen all the dif­fe­rent mo­dels that ca­me out whi­le I was wor­king t­he­re, but seeing them at the fac­to­ry and how the ro­bot arms wel­ded them to­get­her was an eye-o­pe­ner,” Wil­lie said, a­not­her glo­ri­ous gig­gle e­ma­na­ting from his gut. Mo­re re­cog­ni­ti­on for his staying po­wer

He e­ven re­cei­ved a cer­ti­fi­ca­te from S­chä­fer, re­cog­ni­sing the ma­ny y­e­ars he has wor­ked for the com­pa­ny.

A­sked w­hat his fa­vou­ri­te part of the day was – the fac­to­ry tour or meet­ing the MD – Wil­lie smi­led bro­ad­ly and said “both”. “I will ne­ver f­or­get that day. If I e­ver d­ri­ve past the fac­to­ry a­gain with my fa­mi­ly I can say I was t­he­re.”

Born in Knys­na in 1953, Wil­lie star­ted wor­king for Volks­wa­gen in 1974 “w­hen they we­re still ne­ar the cor­recti­o­nal ser­vi­ces of­fi­ces, ne­ar the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty”. “I star­ted in the parts de­part­ment, le­ar­ning how to order and sell them, and I still do the sa­me. I’ve al­ways wan­ted to work with cars,” he said.

His fa­vou­ri­te part of the job? “Seeing new fa­ces al­most e­very day who turn in­to friends o­ver the y­e­ars. The young pe­op­le say, ‘Ma­ke your ci­r­cle big­ger’,” he said, fol­lo­wed by mo­re chuckles. Ac­cor­ding to Wil­lie t­he­re are cu­s­to­mers he has kno­wn for al­most as long as he’s been sel­ling parts. “Plain and sim­ple – t­his is my pas­si­on.”

Ac­cor­ding to Fran­cois, Wil­lie is a je­wel who brings a w­ho­le dif­fe­rent di­men­si­on to the work­pla­ce. “He is ir­re­pla­ce­a­ble,” he said. Gi­de­on con­cur­red, ad­ding that Wil­lie is one of the most beau­ti­ful pe­op­le he knows. “He al­ways le­a­ves you with so­mething, he is lar­ger than li­fe. He de­fi­ni­te­ly de­ser­ved the re­cog­ni­ti­on.”

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

Wil­lie Miya (left) and em­ploy­er Fran­cois K­noet­ze en­joy a mo­ment at the Volks­wa­gen fac­to­ry.

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