Ela Motors is an instantly recognised name in Papua New Guinea. Until two years ago it was part of Burns Philp the largest importer of new motor vehicles in the country. Now Ela Motors has entered a new era. It has become part of the Toyota family.
John Dapling, General Manager for a scant eight months is conscious of the reputation he has inherited. “Toyota is possibly the strongest and most reliable vehicle manufactured and therefore ideal for PNG”, he says.
Ela Motors has more outlets in more areas of PNG than any other motor dealer. It covers all four geographical regions, owning outlets in 13 separate locations, including all the major towns. It has dealers in four more, making 17 outlets in all. “We sell from the very smallest motor-bike, generator or water pump to the heaviest of trucks and large excavation and earth moving equipment. We have a huge advantage because our customers can expect a similar standard of service throughout the country. Our after sales service keeps all this equipment functioning efficiently.”
Training is crucial to their success. Ela Motors is proud to claim that its training school in Port Moresby is the only such school accepted as a Technical College by the Government. Training covers Management, Computers, Service, Parts and Sales. The company sends trainers to regional branches to carry out training in the latest product development. It uses the facilities of the Toyota Motor Corporation in Sydney who have one of the most modern training installations in the South Pacific Region. Also it actually sends people to Japan for training knowing that it will develop a highly skilled staff back home in PNG.
What is the future of Ela Motors? John Dapling laughs and says, “I’ve been here for 8 months now which seems like yesterday. Three weeks before I arrived the volcano erupted in Rabaul and since then we have had currency devaluation, the foreign exchange has been frozen and many more problems to contend with. But you have to make the most of the situation.
“Basically the philosophy of the company is that we think long term. Japanese manufacturers all make very long term plans and we have probably adopted a little bit of that philosophy from our Japanese parents. We look at PNG and we think: we’ll keep on training and see the good times again.”