Jacob Potgieter has spent more than a decade working for Kalmar becoming dealer business manager for India, the Middle East and Africa three years ago after serving as regional services manager.

“It was an opportunity to develop our dealer/agent footprint and a really exciting prospect, as I had already enjoyed the experience of working with different cultures,” he says. “In my previous position I had extensive interaction with dealers and agents across 24 countries.”

Working with such an extensive dealer network underscores the importance of identifying bottlenecks and constraints and getting decision-makers to take a collaborative approach that works for all parties.

Potgieter says that he is constantly made aware of different approaches in markets and how Kalmar can adapt and apply the best practices. “I prefer to deal with customers who are critical of our operations to determine why they have a negative impression of the company. “Turning a detractor into a promoter gives me a sense of achievement.”

A dealer's key to success

According to Potgieter, the most important characteristic of a successful Kalmar dealer is the ability to follow and uphold the principles of good corporate governance. “In my experience, successful dealers are the ones who like to challenge the status quo, but also collaborate on initiatives and campaigns required to grow the brand in their market.”

The number of countries he covers is Exhibit A of the diversity of the dealer network and the need to adapt and reconfigure the route to market to ensure that dealers feel they are in a true partnership, not just a business relationship.

Going the extra mile to help dealers has been particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Even as travel has been constrained worldwide, Kalmar has delivered product and technical training to its dealers online.

“We have also been able to conduct virtual meetings with our dealers and their end customers, and quite often our representative has been a very senior figure, which under normal circumstances is challenging and costly when they need to travel to the customer site.”

“We are also setting the pace in terms of reducing emissions across the cargo handling industry."

As a leading provider of cargo handling solutions, Kalmar plays an important role in keeping trade moving across India, the Middle East and Africa, as well as the rest of the world. “We are also setting the pace in terms of reducing emissions across the cargo handling industry,” says Potgieter.

The challenging circumstances of the last 12 months have reinforced the importance of quality downtime with his three children and six dogs. “Being South African I enjoy the outdoors, particularly rugby - our national sport - and braai (barbecuing), and I also enjoy fishing.”

The dealer’s perspective

Rauf Malik is general manager of Rumaillah Motors in Qatar, part of the Rumaillah Group which has been trading since 1978. Rumaillah Motors has been a Kalmar dealer for the last six years.

“As a 100% local company we are proud to have contributed to the changing landscape of Qatar by supplying products that make sites safer to work at and raise productivity levels,” he says. “We have always been focused on offering application-based handling solutions based on in-depth site surveys, and since Kalmar follows a similar approach it has been a perfect match.”

“In addition, the Kalmar team is highly professional in their business approach and resolving day-to day challenges,” adds Malik. “It is this customer focused approach -- coupled with safe and productive products -- that led us to choose Kalmar, and our partnership has deepened over the years.”

“As markets become more fluid, timely interventions based on data analysis are key to staying ahead of the competition, and this is achieved when dealer and supplier are moving in the same direction.”

He says trust, understanding and a commitment to long-term customer support are the most important elements of successful cooperation between dealer and supplier.

Echoing Jacob Potgieter’s observation on the importance of recognising that different approaches are required in different markets, Malik says that in addition to contractual obligations, the essence of partnership is safeguarding each other’s interests and creating a business environment that is market savvy while at the same time establishing policies which address local requirements.

“As markets become more fluid, timely interventions based on data analysis are key to staying ahead of the competition, and this is achieved when dealer and supplier are moving in the same direction,” he emphasises.

A consistent, proactive approach

This joint approach to market strategy, after-market support and product selection resonates with customers in Rumaillah Motors’s territory -- Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Yemen. Malik is also complimentary about Potgieter’s efforts to bring various teams -- management, technical, parts, logistics -- face-to-face with dealers on a regular basis, noting that his direct involvement in day-to-day activities helps to smooth and simplify complexities and adds to the continued top class dealer support.

“The Kalmar team has demonstrated a consistent, proactive approach to resolving the challenges posed by the pandemic,” he explains. “In one instance when a machine was delayed due to late delivery of the components, the Kalmar sales team delivered a unit that was quite a bit higher in specification than the one ordered. This sort of customer-orientated approach is not that common and can be a game changer in the current market environment.”