Deon Ven­ter

The man be­hind 4×4 Me­ga­world

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Busi­ness­man, fa­ther, racer

Deon Ven­ter was born in Ali­wal North in the East­ern Cape. With a fa­ther in the mo­tor trade his whole life, a love of cars and 4×4s was deep-etched into his soul early on. Deon grew up in Klerks­dorp and went to Mil­ner High School be­fore join­ing the army in 1983 and spend­ing his first year at in­fantry school in Pha­l­aborwa. “I’m a petrol and diesel me­chanic by trade. I did my diesel side with Nis­san and petrol side with Toy­ota,” he says. “I have a great love for off-road rac­ing which comes from my bike days. “I raced my first desert race and roof at the age of 16 and car­ried on from there to where I am sup­port­ing my sons to­day.”

Where, when and in what did you learn to drive?

I learnt to drive in a Chev No­mad. My sis­ter learnt at the same time and she was one of those who had to look down at the gear lever when chang­ing gears so we would be all over the place. I learnt fast so I didn’t need to go with her any­more.

What was your first car? What hap­pened to it?

My first car was that same No­mad. My dad pimped it up a bit for me and it was a jol. We went ev­ery­where with it, from Sod­wana to Oxbow Lodge.

There were no roads there in those days and we used to stay at the pic­nic spots next to the road. It was safe then. We were four mates and just needed fuel money and we would be gone.

How did the move to 4x4s hap­pen?

When I started to work, I bought my first 4×4, a Dat­sun tracker, a great bakkie. At that stage Nis­san could do no wrong in my eyes.

There’s also an ap­par­ent passion for all things Toy­ota… and you have a bit of a col­lec­tion in Klerks­dorp?

My love for Toy­ota only came along af­ter I started my own busi­ness and I had about 30 El­ler­ines bakkies to ser­vice ev­ery month and I re­alised all the other man­u­fac­tur­ers weren’t as re­li­able as a Hilux.

To­day I own plenty Toy­otas but I’m a dead man if my wife dis­cov­ers just how many: from Toy­otapets to the lat­est mod­els, some are for re­builds and some are wait­ing for their mo­ment.

And how did you get into the out­door busi­ness?

I got into it very early as I could see it was re­ally dif­fi­cult to make good money with labour. I re­alised I had to sell some­thing. We had grown up out­doors and loved it so was

a easy choice, this is also where I met Colin, my busi­ness part­ner. He was bring­ing in ARB and Old Man Emu. I gave him a call and never looked back.

What were the chal­lenges in the early days of the busi­ness?

I have had many busi­ness chal­lenges, es­pe­cially at start-up. While I was in the army my par­ents went bank­rupt so when I got back I was on my own. I was very lucky. My wife, Bev, and I have been to­gether since school and when we started off, I didn’t make enough money. She sup­ported me all the way and we made it.

What is your favourite 4x4 of all that you own or have owned?

I have been asked many times what car I would buy if money was no ob­ject and my sons al­ways an­swer ‘a Fer­rari’. To be hon­est, though, it would only be un­til I got locked up. Then would be back in a 4×4.

And your daily driver?

My com­pany car is an early 200. I never re­ally loved the car but it was used for busi­ness. My per­sonal car is a dou­ble cab cruiser with all the bells and whis­tles. I love it but am a lit­tle ashamed to say so be­cause it feels as if I’m cheat­ing on my 2004 EFI which I bought from the leg­end Pikkie Labuschagne in our area 13 years ago (she’s my old girl and will go to my grave with me).

Times are rel­a­tively tough out there in the mar­ket… what ad­vice can you give a young busi­ness owner?

My dad al­ways said if you make the first three years you have made it but this is not true. The big­ger you get, the more dif­fi­cult it is as you have ev­ery­body hav­ing a go at you. But, with your fam­ily be­hind you and a great work team – from cleaner to se­nior man­age­ment – the sky is the limit.

There are many dis­hon­est peo­ple out there but I can hon­estly say: for ev­ery one bad per­son there are hun­dreds of great ones. Some time you have to lose a bit, but stay eth­i­cal.

Deon’s love of all things mo­tor­ing was in­stilled in him from a very young age, thanks to a fa­ther in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. He tran­si­tioned from en­thu­si­asm to love the mo­ment he first got on a mo­tor­cy­cle, which even­tu­ally led to full-on rac­ing.Af­ter leaving the army, he needed a job and de­cided to sell some cars. Not­ing the amount of af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sories be­ing im­ported into South Africa, he de­cided to turn his at­ten­tion to that busi­ness model in­stead.The re­sult of all that ef­fort is 4×4 Me­ga­world, with out­lets all over South Africa. It’s one of the most recog­nis­able brands in the busi­ness, so Deon has done rather well for him­self.He cur­rently re­sides in Klerks­dorp, where he sur­rounds him­self with his fam­ily and a se­lec­tion of Toy­otas.His rac­ing genes have been car­ried over, as his son, Ja­son, reg­u­larly com­petes in the Na­tional Of­fRoad Rac­ing se­ries.

Far left: A reg­u­lar sight at the Na­tional Off Road Cham­pi­onships: the 4×4 Me­ga­world Hilux, driven by Deon’s son, Ja­son. Above: With his Chevro­let No­mad, prop­erly dressed for the oc­ca­sion. Right: Af­ter get­ting his first job, Deon moved on to a Dat­sun Tracker bakkie. Be­low: Deon trad­ing sto­ries with Jeremy Bergh from Alu-Cab SA.

In a (favourite) nutshell:Food: lamb chops Movie: any skop, skiet en don­der Singer: I’m not fussy Hates: un­eth­i­cal busi­nesses and peo­ple Place on Earth: Sod­wana no ques­tion about it. But it’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to go to­day with­out hav­ing trou­ble Hol­i­day: My dream is to do a trip from Musina to Cape Town along the bor­der. Only gravel roads, for months.

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