MANN+HUMMEL, a global player in filtration, continues to expand into different markets, both in terms of applications and regions. We have had good relationships in South Africa for many years, so took the decision to align ourselves more closely with our African customers. By November 2016, the time had come for us to set up MANN+HUMMEL South Africa, the group’s newest subsidiary, which was to have its headquarters in Johannesburg. Our office is not far from the airport, so has a central location in this southern African hub between countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. By the time you land at the airport, you already start to get a feel for what makes South Africa tick, with screens showing the last cricket and rugby matches, enabling people to watch the sports they value so much. On the way to the office, you do of course have to drive on the left, and if you want to get your bearings while you are waiting at a ‘robot’, the South African name for traffic lights, you need to know that the sun is to the north, not to the south, during the afternoon.
Some of our customers, especially the aftermarket dealers, have been in the filtration business for many years: key to the success of these dealers is the fact that they are specialists in ‘their’ market segments and know the specific requirements very well. For example, they know that the filter equipment on a genset – i.e. a stationary engine that generates electricity – is a lot different to the filter equipment on gas compressors and trucks.
In order to share our experience and add to our expert knowledge of all filtration-related matters, our MANN+HUMMEL team in South Africa set up an academy in Johannesburg. The intensive preparations for this, which involved sending out personal invitations to guests, really paid off, as the event ended up being attended by guests from the ‘JHB area’ (Johannesburg), Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Participants arrived to find facilities perfectly equipped with catalogues, samples and notepads, not to mention internet access – the Academy was ready to open its doors!
Knowledge is power
We conducted intensive practical training sessions for the product with our international dealers and gave them some background insight into the applications, answering questions such as: what is crucial for oil separation in a compressor and what makes it different from oil separation in a crankcase ventilation system? Why do some engines have an oil filter and a centrifuge as well and what does this achieve? What water separation options exist for fuel filters? What type of air filter should be used, and when? Fake products were also a major topic on the agenda. After all, some fakes on the African market are only copies in terms of look and weight – they do not provide any kind of filtration whatsoever and put the machine at risk during operation.
Our dealers know about these circumstances and are very quality-conscious – their end customers can be sure that their investment in original MANN-FILTER products represents the most cost-effective and safest solution in the long term in Africa’s harsh environmental conditions. We gave our dealers a look ‘behind the scenes’, so they know about our quality standards, and also know where this quality comes from. Selling the MANN-FILTER, they are ensuring customers receive the quality provided by original equipment, and are in a position to raise awareness of this among end customers. In particular, they appreciated learning about the tools available to help them find the right filters for different applications in a fast and purposeful manner. Our dealers have also taken on board information about our (now) extensive hydraulic range, and done so with great success – this means that they know they can offer filters for engines, for compressors and for hydraulic units as a full-line provider.
Our team in Africa: the springboks of the filtration world
By the time our academy closed its doors, we all knew what ‘makes the market tick’ and are very confident we can supply the right products in the right place at the right time. Every participant received a high-quality certificate at the end of their training, documenting their achievements on the course.
Everyone agreed that even the day-long journey to get to the venue was worth it! Last but not least, we conducted a coaching session for a smaller group that the dealers will be able to put into practice right away: how do I successfully develop ‘my’ market in practice?