Having last congregated with its dealers some seven years ago, Wirtgen Group South Africa held its annual dealer conference from the 22nd to the 24th of November. Following the appointment of new regional dealers in recent years, the conference was largely aimed at bringing these new distributors up to speed with the Wirtgen Group strategy and processes, says Heinrich Schulenburg, MD of Wirtgen Group SA.
With all group OEMs represented – including Wirtgen, Hamm, Kleemann, Ciber Benninghoven and Vögele – the conference was also a perfect platform for dealers to learn more about the new product and technological developments from the various brands.
“In recent years, we have appointed new dealers and the conference allowed us to introduce them to our processes and new focus. The new approach to our business will help them identify additional markets to exploit, thus providing them with tools to generate additional turnover and profits,” says Schulenburg.
Waylon Kukard, sales manager at Wirtgen Group SA, says one of the key focus areas was to educate dealers about the wide market reach and opportunities offered by the complementary ranges within the Wirtgen Group.
“After our interactive three-day conference, our dealers now understand that Wirtgen is a lot bigger than just one or two products that we are traditionally known for. They are starting to realise that there are more growth opportunities available when you focus on the whole product portfolio – all the way from road construction to surface mining, and everything in between,” says Kukard.
For Machinery Exchange, the Zimbabwean dealer, the conference was an important platform for knowledge sharing. “We often get caught up in hectic schedules and day-to-day running of our businesses, without spending enough time to reinforce our knowledge of the product. It was great spending time with product experts from the various factories, learning more about the range, the specifications and the opportunities available to deploy the various products,” says Brendan Reilly, MD of Industrial Exchange Group.
Named the Dealer of the Year at the conference, Machinery Exchange is enjoying a buoyant market in Zimbabwe, driven by the government’s ongoing infrastructure development programme, which is anchored by the development of the 600-km Beit Bridge-Harare Road. Here, several Wirtgen products are busy at work, including but not limited to recyclers, asphalt pavers and crushers and screens.
“We sold several firsts on that project, such as the first Kleemann crushers and the first Ciber plant in Zimbabwe. We also sold the first asphalt pavers in nearly 15 years. Before the Beit Bridge-Harare Road project, there were only two asphalt pavers operating in the country because of lack of infrastructure development,” says Anthony Dube, national sales and rental manager at Machinery Exchange.
David Denbury, sales director at Parts Sales Botswana, has hailed the dealer conference as a critical information sharing platform for Wirtgen dealers in the region. “We have taken away with us some new ideas and experiences from other markets, which we can implement in our own market,” he says.
“Because we haven’t had a dealer conference for a number of years, this year’s gathering has given us an opportunity to acquaint ourselves with new products and solutions from the different brands within the Wirtgen stable,” adds Craig Denbury, export director at Parts Sales Botswana.
Commenting on the state of the market, David says Botswana enjoyed a strong infrastructure development spell some four years ago, driven by government’s road infrastructure projects. Armed with the full range of Wirtgen products, Parts Sales Botswana enjoyed over 70% market share during the road construction boom.
“However, the road construction programme has slowed down in the past three years, resulting in a drop in equipment sales. The government is now putting more focus on water infrastructure projects such as pipelines to provide water to water-stricken areas of the country. We, however, expect a turnaround in the next few years as new development funds come in,” says David.
Marius Cronje of Hoffmann’s Farm Implements, the Wirtgen dealer in Namibia for the past year, says the dealer conference was critical in educating the team about the full range available and how this can benefit customers.
“While the construction industry is not at its best at the moment, there is scope for growth in Namibia in the next few years. We believe that the construction industry will soon benefit from government’s drive to boost economic growth,” says Cronje.
In conclusion, Kukard says the comprehensive range of equipment in the Wirtgen Group stable is now augmented by the John Deere range of construction equipment to provide value-adding solutions to contractors’ equipment choices.