Africa is regarded as the next business frontier and any company that has serious growth plans should at least have some sort of a growth trajectory into the continent. To further expand its reach, work-at-height and materials handling solutions provider, Eazi Access, has its eyes on Africa. David Bester, Group Africa Executive, discusses Eazi Access’ strategy as far as the rest of Africa is concerned with Munesu Shoko, Editor of Capital Equipment News.
David Bester’s background
Bester grew up in South Africa where he spent the bulk of his career in the automotive supply chain, including nearly four years in Asia operating across the entire continent. Prior to joining Eazi Access, he was the commercial director for East & Southern Africa for one of the largest logistics companies in Africa. He joined Eazi Access as the Group Africa Executive in October of 2017, and his extensive knowledge and experience will help grow the group’s operations across the continent.
Munesu Shoko [MS]: You have a specific focus on Eazi Access’s business development, especially into the rest of the continent. How big is the organisation’s focus on expanding its reach into Africa?
David Bester [DB]: Eazi Access views Africa as a key growth area for our business. We have a simple and powerful value proposition: we protect lives, increase productivity and enable cost savings. This value proposition applies to all our markets across the continent.
Expanding into other African markets isn’t something new to us. We already operate in Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius and Botswana, and intend expanding rapidly into key markets over the next three years.
What sets us apart is that we are not merely an equipment supplier, but we have transitioned into a solutions provider. We have an extensive range within our fleet that is best in breed. In addition, because we exceed global best practice with regards to the maintenance of our fleet, we guarantee uptime in locations where very few competitors are able to do so.
Coming back to our value proposition, our work-at-height equipment allows people to work in a safe environment, while enhancing rather than disrupting customer operations. Our materials handling equipment revolutionises the way heavy loads are taken to height safely and this impacts the productivity of construction sites, mines, heavy and light industrial plants.
MS: You mentioned that you intend expanding into key markets in the next three years. Which are some of the key focus markets at this stage?
DB: Our value proposition touches on a range of industries, including mining, construction, heavy and light industrial. Our growth is led by the industries we operate in and, and to a large extend, our customers asking us to move into Africa with them. Our focus at this stage is identifying key opportunities and to partner with our current customers in these industries, while introducing our value proposition to new potential customers.
MS: Challenges of doing business on the continent abound. From your opinion, what are some of those contests and how do you aim to sidestep them?
DB: The first potential pitfall relates to business culture. Many companies approach African locations and impose their business culture on the local environment. To be successful you have to intimately understand the local business culture and adapt to operating in that environment. In addition, don’t make the common mistake of assuming the business culture in one country is the same as that of the neighbouring country. You have to conform to the environment you operate in.
Furthermore, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of your customer’s current and potential needs, then tailor your offering around those needs, instead of bending customers around your offering.
The next pitfall relates to the competitive environment. Never underestimate the ability of your competitors in any particular environment to adapt to you entering the market. Irrespective of how good your value proposition is, they will adapt, and that is why you have to stay so close to your customers’ requirements.
The next challenge is regulatory. My advice is to comply, comply and comply. If you are unsure, stick closely to your auditors and legal counsel. Don’t get tempted by shortcuts when it comes to the regulatory environment, you will lose.
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a robust supply chain. If you make a promise you have to have what you promised on-site when you promised to have it on-site. Customers are as demanding in the rest of Africa as they are in South Africa.
MS: What proportion of Eazi Access’s business do you aim to generate from the rest of the continent, say in the next five years?
DB: As mentioned, our value proposition is as compelling in the rest of the continent as it is anywhere else in the world. Our early projections are that our African operations could generate a sustainable percentage of our revenue within the next three years, with more growth to come in five years’ time.
We feel confident that we can reach sustainable growth levels in Africa within the next five years and beyond. One of our biggest differentiators is that we are not just an equipment supplier; we jointly develop processes with customers to improve their productivity and generate savings. As a result, we have evolved into a solutions provider. We don’t compromise on our quality and safety promise, regardless of where we operate. Combine that with our compelling value proposition, and we have a winning formula.