Keeping operators in top gear
The repair of gearboxes and differentials is a difficult and complex process, and because of this it most often requires the skills of experienced specialists. FOCUS looks at Rex Diff and Gearbox (RDG), a company that has distinguished itself in this specialised field.
Modern vehicles – including commercial vehicles – are complicated machines. The vehicles that are on the road today are very different from those that were used 20 years ago. And while there have undoubtedly been improvements, it can sometimes feel like a bit of a mixed blessing. Sure, they are more powerful and reliable than previous generations, but they are also much harder to fix. Gone forever are the days when it was possible for any technician to fix most mechanical problems on a vehicle; the current complexity of systems and components has forced them to specialise on specific aspects of a vehicle’s operation.
Gearboxes and differentials are no different. These systems have become increasingly intricate and can no longer be serviced or fixed with a few basic tools and a rudimentary knowledge of their operation.
No, fixing gearboxes and differentials has become the responsibility of experts who specialise in the field.
KEEPING CUSTOMERS HAPPY
One company that has focused on the servicing and repair of these systems since its inception is Rex Diff and Gearbox. The company started out as a very small operation, but through hard work and dedication it has grown to become a prominent player in the industry.
“When we started this company in 1992, it was really a two-man business. We approached a few dealers for work and steadily grew from there,” states Gayle Rex, managing director of RDG. “We established ourselves by always offering the best possible service. We originally never advertised; we simply let our work speak for itself. By focusing on our customers and meeting their specific needs, we built up a reputation for ourselves.”
And providing excellent service continued to be a priority for RDG, even after it had established itself as an industry leader.
“Our technicians are very experienced and are very good at what they do, but I believe our success stems from the way we treat our customers. Above all else, we want our customers to be satisfied and we will do whatever is needed to meet their requirements. This is what encourages them to come back to us; they know what they can expect and, as a result, long-lasting and rewarding relationships are formed with them. If we do something, we do it to the best of our ability,” asserts Rex.
To commercial vehicle operators, quick and reliable service is especially important. Owing to the cost of downtime, operators need to have their vehicles serviced and repaired as quickly as possible, and RDG prides itself on its quick turnaround times.
“We know how important it is for operators to have their trucks up and running, and because of this we do everything we can to reduce downtime,” states Dennis McLachlan, responsible for ArvinMeritor and RDG’s consumer affairs.
Although the company had performed work on commercial vehicles since its inception, it was decided in September 2007 that a separate commercial vehicle division should be established.
“We completely outgrew our Boksburg facility,” says McLachlan. “There simply wasn’t enough space to service both passenger and commercial vehicles, which is why we decided to create a dedicated truck facility in Jet Park. We have an excellent working relationship with Isuzu Truck South Africa (ITSA) and Mr Masatoshi Kobayashi, the chief executive officer and managing director of that company, encouraged and motivated us to obtain and create the new facility. We are therefore grateful to him for his foresight and motivation”
Apart from Isuzu Trucks, which was instrumental in RDG’s growth, the company is also a preferred service provider for DAF, Hyundai and Iveco Trucks, and performs work on virtually every make of commercial vehicle.
“As with the passenger and light commercial vehicle division, we value our customers and we will do whatever we can to assist them. Therefore, if someone has a problem, we try to help, regardless of the make or model of the vehicle they own,” insists McLachlan.
Correct tooling is especially vital in this regard. “It’s important to provide our technicians with the right equipment and diagnostic tools. Vehicles have become so sophisticated that it’s almost impossible to service or repair them without the latest tools. Because of this, we make sure that we always possess the necessary equipment,” says McLachlan.
Niel Strydom, branch manager of RDG Commercial, concurs. “In addition to adequate tooling, an efficient workshop should also be clean and organised. You can walk into any one of our branches at any time, and everything will be clean and in its place.”
RDG recently acquired the facility adjacent to the gearbox repair workshop in which their new differential repair workshop is now located and where all related repairs to heavy commercial vehicles, as well as light commercial and passenger vehicles are performed. In addition, a training facility has been established which will widen the scope of in-house training, and will also allow the company to offer training to other companies.
While it is important to have an organised and well-equipped workshop, a high-tech facility is useless without competent staff. With this in mind, RDG conducts continuous in-house training in order to up-skill workers.
“It’s important to continually train junior staff members,” states Rex. “Workers have to be given an opportunity to grow and develop their skills. We have a number of very experienced technicians at RDG who go out of their way to educate new workers. Experience is priceless and should be shared.”
“There is a definite shortage of trained technicians in the industry and because of this there is a need for organisations that train workers. Our new facility will help us to improve the training we offer our own employees, and will also allow us to train other companies’ technicians as well,” says Strydom.
DRIVEN BY PERFECTION
Rex Diff and Gearbox’s phenomenal growth is a testament to the high level of service that it regularly provides its customers. By focusing on good service, the company has grown from a two-person operation to a company that now employs over 120 people.
Luckily, however, this success hasn’t changed the way RDG operates. Keeping customers satisfied remains the company’s chief priority.
“We take pride in what we do and because of this we always perform repairs to the best of our ability and keep our workshops spotlessly clean. We really go out of our way to satisfy our customers’ needs,” concludes Strydom.