Price drives southern African importer of Chinese construction equipment’s business

The company has a full range of skid steers in stock. Its JC35 is a 1t model.

South African based importer and supplier of a broad range of Chinese-made small to medium sized construction equipment, R21 Trucks, Plant & Machinery, announces that it has grown its construction equipment business tenfold in the past five years, leveraging on its lower prices compared to the rest of its competitors.

Director Mark Noble believes that when times are this tough, price plays a big role in buying decisions. R21 Trucks, Plabt & Machinery’s construction equipment business backs off its main ex-military truck remanufacturing business. It kicked off on a very small scale barely some five years ago after the company saw the need for “quality but cheaper” small to medium sized construction equipment in the local market.

It started importing and supplying Chinese-made gear into southern Africa. To date, 50% of its construction equipment business is generated from markets outside South Africa, with Zambia, Botswana, Angola and the DRC among the lucrative destinations. The main target market is small to medium size construction companies.


The dumper line ranges from 1t to 7t in both 4×2 and 4×4 formations.

Contrary to common models of other Chinese equipment suppliers already operating in the local market, R21 Trucks, Plant & Machinery does not necessarily represent a certain established brand. It buys its non-branded equipment from various factories in China which it imports and supplies in South Africa and beyond borders. Noble believes this is one of his key competitive edges. “This is our own in-house product range. We import, supply, service and maintain it. We also carry all the necessary parts for any piece of equipment we have in stock,” says Noble.

R21 Trucks, Plant & Machinery’s business has grown from 10 line items four years ago to 160 line items today. It has a stockholding worth about R100-million, supported by R50-million worth of parts stockholding. The line of items ranges from dumpers, front-end loaders, through to skid steers. The company boasts a very big line of dumpers, which Noble says has been a great part of its business. The dumper line ranges from 1 tonne (t) to 7t in both 4×2 and 4×4 formations. This is due to be boosted by a range of articulated dumpers from 16t to 20t in operating weight.

The front-end loader line ranges between 800kg and 3t. The company also has a full range of skid steers in stock. Its JC35 is a 1t model, while the bigger JC45 is a 1,2t machine.


Director Mark Noble says the company has a stockholding worth about R100-million, supported by R50-million worth of parts stockholding.

Price is king

Noble believes the current state of the construction sector in most southern African countries is working to his company’s advantage. For example, in South Africa, the order books for most construction companies are not healthy as projects are just few and far between. For those few that actually come to market, they are being packaged into smaller lots to allow everyone in the industry to have a piece of the rollout and also to afford small and upcoming contractors access to jobs.

Amid an uncertain pipeline of jobs, contractors are basically steering away from investing astronomic amounts of money into construction gear, while smaller and upcoming companies don’t necessarily have the financial capacity to invest into premier construction gear for their equipment needs. Noble says in a constrained market, “price is king”. As a result, he believes R21Trucks, Plant & Machinery’s range of value gear is a much needed offering for construction contractors at present. While the cornerstone of his business is price, Noble also argues that quantity plays a crucial role. He argues that if there is any competition in what he does, it is on a small scale compared to his approach. While the 3000m² warehouse is filled with stock and spare parts to cater for increased demand, the company is building a further six warehouses close to its existing facility to accommodate more stock.

“We carry a lot of stock, but also understand the importance of having readily available parts for every line item,” he says, adding that three factors – price, extensive stock range and parts support – are the most important be successful in the cheap, small to medium Chinese construction equipment space.

Equipment Africa says: R21 Trucks & Machinery is a business that understands that any piece of equipment is as good as its service. For that reason, the company has invested in its own dedicated workshop that services its whole range of construction equipment. Turnaround time for all service work is about 48 hours.


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