Mad about Mercs
From humble beginnings in the sleepy town of Springs, to divisional manager of Mercedes-Benz Trucks. That’s been the journey of Clinton Savage. CLAIRE RENCKEN finds out what makes him tick.
Clinton Savage joined Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) in 2001. He started out as a sales planner for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, and was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to do the forecasting and inventory planning for all brands from Smart cars to the mighty Western Stars. “Then I was attracted to the bright lights of sales and marketing, where I became the regional sales manager for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, looking after the KwaZulu-Natal region. At the time, commercial vehicles included Vito, Viano, Sprinter, trucks and buses.”
Shortly after this, Savage was promoted to the national sales manager position, making him responsible for dealer performance and key accounts management for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles across SA, and including Namibia and Botswana. He continues: “As our business and success continued to grow through the peak of the commercial vehicle industry, we decided to increase our customer focus. So we separated the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle business into three categories – vans, trucks and buses.” At this juncture Savage’s passion for heavy metal and long-term customer relationships made the decision to become national sales manager for the truck division exclusively an easy one. He has since moved on to become the divisional manager, leading the Mercedes-Benz truck brand into the future.
But let’s go back to the beginning. It all started in Springs, where Savage matriculated. He immediately went on to study for a BTech in Operations Management through the Technikon of the Witwatersrand, now part of the University of Johannesburg. He then decided to further his education in road transport management and earned a diploma from the Rand Afrikaans University (now known as the University of Johannesburg). His passion to learn more about business, leadership and networking led him to complete his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Wits Business School. “Receiving this degree was most certainly the highlight of my educational career,” he reflects.
In terms of the here and now, current trends in technology also have Savage excited: “It is amazing what we will be able to offer our customers in terms of safety, efficiency, green technology, alternative fuels, telematics, and so on – all with the intention of adding value by reducing their total operating costs and increasing their overall productivity.”
Looking ahead to 2013, Savage is optimistic that the economy will allow for increased replacements of the record volumes sold in 2007/2008; many of these units are enduring a slightly prolonged replacement cycle, especially in the long haul and distribution business. The construction, mining and waste sectors already show signs of increased activity, so the coming year looks promising.
“Working with a wonderful brand and exceptional people provides many opportunities for very proud moments!” says Savage. “One of the most recent highlights was creating a world first when we landed a plane on the back of an Actros 2658 at an event held to launch our ‘Trucks you can trust’ promise to our customers (see the August edition of FOCUS). It was also the first time we’ve ever had a launch where there was no physical product; we launched a promise of differentiated service to our customers.”