Man about change
Change is inevitable, but creating it needs a hands-on attitude. Employees and customers alike have come to know Steve Wager, MD of Scania South Africa, as such a man. GAVIN MYERS finds out why
Having been at the helm of the organisation for four years now, Wager has guided his team and the company through some significant changes. He doesn’t for a moment discount the hard work it’s taken to get to this point.
Explaining that the journey of getting closer to Scania’s customers began at the end of 2012, Wager notes that the company now works “in a totally cross-functional way, offering transport solutions to our customers”.
“We shortened our decision-making processes and improved customer satisfaction by restructuring our organisation and decentralising responsibilities to five regions; each headed by a regional director. Today, we continue to expand the range of services available to our customers, so they can focus on running their businesses, rather than maintaining their vehicle fleets,” he says.
At the heart of it all, says Wager, is Scania’s commitment to maximising the profitability of its customers. “Take, for example, our most recent offering: an insurance solution, which is truly tailored to each specific application and type of operation. By utilising this solution, each operator can be assured that they have the optimal protection for their assets,” he explains.
Wager is convinced that innovations like this are essential in South Africa’s rapidly changing, and increasingly competitive, commercial vehicle market. “This situation is true for us as original equipment manufacturers and for our customers as transport providers. As the pressure on transporters’ margins increases, they are focusing more and more on the cost of ownership and vehicle uptime. At Scania, we feel we are experts in supporting both of these demands.”
Wager takes the demands of his clients very seriously indeed … they are essential to the growth of the company. He explains: “Scania will only grow if we are able to continue to offer our customers outstanding customer service. When things do go wrong, resolving the problem quickly and getting the customer’s vehicle back on the road are not negotiable.
“Additionally, we must continue to find ways to take away the hassle of running and maintaining a vehicle fleet, by offering flexible and tailored solutions to meet our customers’ needs. When a customer has a problem or challenge to overcome, we want him to immediately think: ‘Let’s ask Scania’.”
He assures that there are more model ranges and service innovations on the cards. “Scania will continue to grow in South Africa, becoming more and more a true and recognised solutions provider.”
It’s clear then that Wager and his team are passionate about the brand and confident in their ability to live its values and surpass customer demands. Wager humbly explains that the reason for this is three-fold.
“I admire the company’s core values: customer first, quality and respect for the individual, which align with my own values.
“Second, the brand is strong and we build bloody sexy trucks and buses,” he smiles. “The product is robust and reliable.”
“Last, and certainly not least, I love the people with whom I work and interact. We are proud and committed employees at Scania, and one can feel it when meeting with Scania colleagues from anywhere in the world – especially here in South Africa.”
Speaking of being anywhere in the world, Wager is always keen to encourage his colleagues to broaden their horizons and think outside the box. “I have always felt that travelling, discovering new places and learning new cultures enables this.”
At 54 years old, Wager is excited that he still has time ahead to indulge this passion. “I would like to think I have ten years more to go in my career, and, as much as I love South Africa, I am sure that by then I will be working in another market somewhere in the Scania world,” he says.
No doubt Scania South Africa and its customers will rue the day, but such is change. Wager has some reassuring words, though: “Thank you for your commitment. We are with you, all the way.”