How you’ve grown
FAW South Africa celebrates 20 years as a player in the local market this month. GAVIN MYERS spoke to national sales manager Eugene van der Berg, to see how much the company has grown and where its future lies.
Watching a company evolve is like watching a child grow. And when the company grows from what would be that gawky, awkward kind of kid that no one wants to speak to, into a popular, successful, charismatic type of bloke, you can’t help but have the utmost respect and admiration for it.
As FAW South Africa (FAW SA) turns 20 this month, that’s just the type of company it’s become. “The journey has been tough – the perception of Chinese products has been the most difficult obstacle to overcome,” says Van der Berg. “People still believe that everything from China is of poor quality but that’s not the case, we are constantly improving. I think we have been around long enough to prove that we have a good-quality product on the market and are here to stay.”
And here to stay FAW is. Last year, global production hit 2,6 million vehicles (FAW has a presence in 100 countries), and FAW SA is set to add to the pot. “Towards the end of last year we received a capital injection from China. We restructured the company and started building the new plant at the Coega Industrial Development Zone near Port Elizabeth,” says Van der Berg. Built on 400 000 m2 of land, the plant will be finished by December. It will employ 500 people and have capacity to build
5 000 units annually for the southern African market (in both right- and left-hand drive).
“We are spending a lot of money on our infrastructure,” emphasises Van der Berg. “We’re upgrading our sales and service dealer network and are currently building a new showroom in Isando.”
Clearly the company is on the right track, having recently attracted the attention of Cargo Carriers as well as ready-mix company Scribante.
“We are supplying Cargo Carriers the 28.380 FT for a very tough application in Swaziland’s sugar cane industry,” says Van der Berg. “The vehicles will form 42-metre-long road trains (the horse with three trailers behind it), with payloads of up to 75 tonnes. It’s a rugged vehicle with no complicated electronics, suitable for the tough conditions there. We are confident that it will do the job perfectly,” he smiles.
Scribante is standardising its fleet of 60 concrete mixers with FAWs. “We are still very strong in the construction market,” says Van der Berg. “I personally believe we currently offer the most value for money to the industry. Our vehicles have proven themselves and we are constantly improving specification – we can now get very close to a 15-tonne legal payload on our new 28.280 FD 10 m3 tipper.”
That said, Van der Berg explains that other models are also doing well in their respective market segments, with the newest J6 long-hauler doing particularly well and returning very good fuel consumption figures – one customer in particular reporting 2,55 km/l hauling between 25- and 35-tonne payloads.
“We are volume driven, not profit driven, and are determined to make every relationship work,” Van der Berg emphasises. “We are extremely serious about our business.”
All this, of course, is to put the customer first. Continues Van der Berg: “FAW SA has focused extremely hard on aftersales support for the past three or four years.” It has also reduced the range of base models to minimise the number of parts needed. Allied to this, a new consignment scheme allows dealers to hold stock, eliminating delays and downtime.
“We’re also assisting our customers with an in-house finance scheme, and they are extremely happy with the packages we put on the table,” Van der Berg adds.
Popular, successful and charismatic, FAW SA has grown into the type of business its parent company would always have wanted. Cheers to the next 20 years!