It’s not every day that 101 trucks are handed over to a transport operator. But, then again, the relationship between this supplier and its customer is pretty special, too, as CHARLEEN CLARKE discovers …
The relationship between Mercedes-Benz Trucks and Bakers SA Limited is something of which dreams are made – for both parties. On the one hand, Bakers SA Limited is an extremely loyal customer – which means Mercedes-Benz can “bank” on its patronage, so to speak. There is, however, a very good reason for that loyalty – as I wrote in my Steering Column last month, Mercedes-Benz is more than a supplier; it’s a partner.
This synergistic relationship, which stems back to the 1980s, has now culminated in a landmark deal for both companies – Mercedes-Benz recently delivered a whopping 101 Actros trucks to the Pietermaritzburg-based company.
Each Actros bears the number, 786, on its cab. That’s because the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are assigned numerical values – and “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim”, the opening phrase of the Quran, equate to the numerical value of 786. In English, this means “In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Beneficent”. So, to those of the Muslim faith, 786 equates to that expression.
According to Abdul Tayob, chief executive of Bakers SA Limited, the number is there to “reduce harm”. “Sometimes things we consider a bounty can cause harm. For instance, too much rain can cause a flood. So, by putting 786 on our trucks, we are asking Allah to reduce the harm that can potentially come with the bounty,” he tells FOCUS.
The deal was concluded by Dave Walker, sales and transport consultant at Garden City Commercial, who has had a 28-year relationship with Bakers SA Limited. “I specifically use the word ‘relationship’ and not ‘dealing’ or ‘selling’ because, in today’s business environment, transactions are concluded by being close to your customers, by knowing their needs, by knowing in depth how their business ticks, and by knowing where they are going … business is about partnerships and relationships,” he tells FOCUS.
Walker first started dealing with Bakers SA Limited when Aboobaker Tayob (the founder of the company and now its chairman) was still actively steering the ship. “He was amazing. In the early days, the company wasn’t able to employ sophisticated tracking technology; it didn’t exist, but Mr Baker, as I like to call him, was always at his office at 04:00, scheduling trucks, loads and drivers … without the use of mobile telephones or tracking technology. And, somehow, he always knew where all the trucks, loads and drivers were,” he recalls.
This obsession for detail even shone through when Aboobaker Tayob was once in hospital for major surgery. “As he was coming out of the anaesthetic, he had all the nurses lined up and instructed them which truck to take where, what load to pick up and its delivery point,” relates Walker with a chuckle.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and Mr Baker’s son, Abdul Tayob, is doing an equally good job of steering the business today. He is obsessed with running a company that is nothing less than world-class; everything that Bakers SA Limited does is geared towards achieving this goal.
With the acquisition of the 101 Mercedes-Benz Actros truck tractors, the fleet now stands at “just over 600”. Abdul Tayob is confident that ordering the trucks was the right decision. “This is the single biggest order that Bakers SA Limited has concluded with Mercedes-Benz Trucks and, as in the past, we are sure that we will reap the benefits,” he tells FOCUS.
There are a number of reasons Bakers SA Limited remains loyal to the Mercedes-Benz brand. “From a technical side, the trucks’ reliability, improved safety and low fuel consumption mean we could not have made a better choice.
“I have to add that the relationship we have with both Mercedes-Benz and our local dealer Mercedes-Benz Garden City Commercials means that we received the best deal possible. That is why we decided on an all-inclusive package with all the value chain partners: FleetBoard, CharterWay and Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. We look forward to even more success from this relationship,” adds Tayob.
Kobus van Zyl, executive director: Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa, is similarly upbeat. “It is no coincidence that, as Daimler Trucks & Buses, our aim is very much in line with the vision of Bakers SA Limited. We want to be the benchmark commercial vehicle solutions provider that makes a real difference in the lives of our stakeholders.
“This includes everyone from our shareholders to customers and the various charities we support. This alignment is one of the major reasons this relationship will continue to move forward at such a rapid pace,” he comments.
“This landmark transaction has been the result of a rock-solid relationship between Bakers SA Limited and Daimler Trucks & Buses. By continuing to focus on our two core strategic business pillars – best people and operational excellence – we continue to be the supplier of choice for ever-growing businesses such as Bakers SA Limited,” concludes Van Zyl.