Petrol jockey rises to be the boss

Just 10 years ago, Mpumelelo “China” Cingo was a petrol attendant wiping windscreens and checking water and oil at a filling station in Lusikisiki.
Today he is the proud owner of his own garage, employing 21 people.
Bizana-born Cingo, 33, was handed the garage in Oxford Street in East London by Total South Africa late last year after he successfully completed their Young Dealer programme.
While the business has been running since early April, it will be officially launched on Saturday.
Cingo had to start his business virtually from scratch, rehabilitating the structure, which had been stripped by vandals after the garage went under and became a financial drag four years ago.
He did this with a R1.2m boost from the French petroleum company.
His initial entry into the industry was not by choice but necessity. He is a Walter Sisulu University industrial psychology graduate and in his youth aspired to be a soccer star, never imagining himself as a business owner.
“I always dreamt of being a soccer star, but that dream was shortlived when the furthest I went was playing for Ajax Cape Town when I was a scholar.
“When that didn't last, I went to study industrial psychology at Walter Sisulu University because I was always curious to know what it was all about, but when I had to supplement one of my modules, I knew I had to get a job to cover my studies and make ends meet because I didn't want to burden my mother, a single parent who had two other children to take care of.”
Cingo got a job as a petrol attendant at a garage in Lusikisiki, where he was first introduced to the petroleum business, and over the next decade progressed from the outside court to the manager’s seat.
“When my mom died in 2012, I didn't have a choice but to keep working because I had to support my siblings. The job was a great opportunity for me to engage with people, which I enjoyed, and I got to understand and become passionate about customer service while learning the ins and outs of the business.“After less than a year working as a petrol attendant I moved on to become a back storeroom operator. Over the years I grew into the business, occupying a variety of different roles and by last year, when I applied for my own dealership, I was the site manager.”Cingo opened his garage early last month, and the filling station and convenience store are in full operation. He plans to have his kitchen going by the end of June.“We are having our official launch on Saturday and we're looking forward to meeting new customers and having fun with the people of East London. Business has been picking up since we opened and sales doubled in April.”Cingo said he was humbled by the opportunity he had got and grateful for the support of his wife, Nompumelelo.mbalit@dispatch.co.za..

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