Setting the pace in trucking
Markus Geyer is the newly appointed managing director of the company.
With a new top-level management team in place, a well-known truck manufacturer is executing plans to grow its presence in Africa.
Markus Geyer’s recent appointment as managing director of MAN Truck & Bus (SA) sends a very positive signal to MAN truck users in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent, including East Africa, where it is continuing to enjoy significant success.
Firstly, it means that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has bedded down its changes to top-level management, and that it will embarking on a programme geared at seizing back market share. These plans involve the introduction of enhanced service programmes and technologies.
They are being driven from the company’s new head offices which, Geyer says, reflects the OEM’s commitment to the region.
The new R75-million facility, which also houses MAN Sub-Equatorial Africa, is opened at a time when many companies have stopped investing in the country. This year, another major truck manufacturer announced that it would put a hold on spending considering the uncertain economic conditions.
“We are sending a very clear message that Munich, Germany, has faith in South Africa, and that we are here to stay,” he says.
MAN Financial Services, a joint venture between ABSA and VW Financial Services, will also relocate to the new headquarters, which will ensure stronger support between sales and finance.
Having all strategic business units in one building enables the company to not only share business intelligence from respective market bases more easily between operational divisions, but also cultivates concentrated effort to enhance efficiency in dealing with customer requirements.
Geyer’s experience with MAN in South Africa and Africa as a whole goes back to 2004 when he oversaw the company’s global repair and maintenance division. Since then, his engagement with African customers has increased.
“I have come to understand the idiosyncrasies of respective markets on the continent. I believe I have the necessary experience to lead MAN into a new era of positive growth in the Pan-African markets I now manage,” says Geyer.
He has a four-year long contract to serve in his current capacity, and can be extended if necessary.
He is joined by Arshad Hassim, financial director, and Sarah Luthuli, non-executive director. Ian Seethal, is head of network development, and Robert Clough, head of MAN Sub-Equatorial Africa.
The streamlining of the company’s management structure extends to its proprietary dealerships in Centurion, Pinetown and Cape Town, where the company has created branch manager positions to elevate decision-making power at the point of sale.
“This forms part of MAN’s new global management strategy, the PACE2017 Project, designed to enhance customer-centric product and service delivery in specific markets,” explains Geyer.
The new premises reflects the company’s commitment to the country, despite the state of the economy.
Importantly, PACE2017 strengthens the company within the very competitive truck industry, and Geyer believes that it will be completed by the end of the year.
In 2015, it sold 1 317 units compared to 1 564 in 2014. This can be attributed to more challenging operating conditions with the company exposed to underperforming sectors, such as mining and infrastructure delivery.
All essential fields of the company are part of the programme, geared at placing the OEM in a more flexible and efficient position moving forward. The market and product focus phase of the initiative places credence on growing the MAN marque in selected markets. He tells Equipment Africa that the company also plans to bolster its offering in the tipper truck market segment.
He believe that it will take the company as little as year to claim back lost market share in some of the other key market segments, considering that the company already “has a nice premium customer base” as a sound foundation for future growth.
The programme also sees MAN build its business upon a digital model, encouraging connectivity and mobile solutions.
Geyer places a lot of weight on these programmes, noting that they point to the future of international trucking, such as autonomous trucks that are safer and more productive for the fleet operator.
It has taken time for the company to launch a telematics solution in South Africa, but Geyer is convinced that the offering is ideally suited to the market, offering just enough information to be of real value to African fleet operators. He criticises some of the other offerings on the market for providing too much unnecessary information.
It forms the basis of more work in the field to improve productivity and lower total operating costs.
There are more than 400 ServiceCare contracts in place with MAN TeleMatics SA, and the company has received a positive response from the market.
The next phase will entail expanding performance metrics and reports, and integrating it with MAN ServiceCare and Mobile24.
The company is set to give due priority to the tipper market.
Product roll out
While South Africa has been a much more challenging market for MAN, it continues to occupy a leading position in European markets.
Turnover for 2015 from global operations rose by seven percent and the company’s final operative result showed an increase of 35% on 2014 to close at 205 million Euros.
Meanwhile, the truck manufacturer has enhanced its local offerings in line with the Pace2017 programme.
This includes the introduction of D26 Fire rings for improved oil and fuel consumption and upgraded fan mapping for improved cooling efficiency.
These have been complemented by a two-stage engine coolant monitoring system and heavy duty propshaft for improved reliability.
Meanwhile, MAN also introduced a 500kW Intarder 3 ECO with improved thermal load control, upgraded auxiliary brake sequencing and anti-spin regulation on 440/480hp traction models.
All TGX and TGS models feature LED tail lights and the company also introduced in-cab axle load monitoring on air suspension to the market.
The company’s trucks have also been fitted with idle-shutdown programming, while a lane guard system comes standard on 26t and 27t on-road truck tractor models.
South Africa’s truck market has seen a slow decline in volumes over the years, and it may just be that MAN has a recipe for success to seize back its share of markets. However, the managing director reports ongoing success in East Africa. Kenya remains a key market, while Ethiopia is expected to be a 1 000 unit a year market shortly.