New look, same values
EQSTRA FLEXI FLEET has a rich history of providing fleet management solutions to the South African commercial vehicle market. Even though the company underwent a number of brand transformations over the years, with the EQSTRA brand being the latest, its core values have remained the same.
Flexi Fleet has established a reputation of being a leader in the fleet management industry, focusing specifically on the management of commercial vehicles. “What made us unique from day one was that we had our own workshops, panel shops and manufacturing plant, which manufactures tankers and trailers,” states John Loxton, managing director of EQSTRA FLEXI FLEET (Flexi Fleet).
The Flexi Fleet brand, under the ownership of Imperial Holdings, was revived in 2002 as part of the initial rental agreement signed with Clover South Africa. “The brand was catapulted into a totally different stratosphere at the beginning of 2004 with the acquisition of Clover’s transport operations,” says Loxton.
In 2008 EQSTRA HOLDINGS, which includes Flexi Fleet, unbundled from Imperial, still pursuing the goals it attained under Imperial FlexiFleet, with minor changes in its branding. “We retained the DNA of our Imperial FlexiFleet logo in our corporate image, basically just changing the name to FlexiFleet,” notes Loxton.
In 2010 Flexi Fleet expanded its role to the transport of commodities, as an extension of the operations of its sister company MCC – which is one of the biggest open-cast mining operations in South Africa. This is when a slight rebranding to Flexi Fleet was implemented and Flexi Logistics began, which was formally launched at the beginning of November 2011. The company also used this opportunity to align itself with the overall EQSTRA corporate identity as Loxton points out. “We are particularly excited that this new brand also heralds the change in our business focus. The visual aspects of the brand reflect the expanded focus of Flexi Fleet and with specific reference to our participation in the transport and logistics sector.”
Loxton highlights that the overall vision for Flexi Logistics is to develop this company into three main focal areas, namely commodity transport, distribution and bulk transport.
The Commodity Division of Flexi Logistics has already procured three blue chip customers as the basis of its business. Loxton points out that the company also has an existing investment of R100 million in equipment and facilities in the coal region situated in Leandra, Mpumalanga.
The Distribution Division of the business will focus on and manage Flexi Fleet’s partnership with Clover SA. “Clover as a partner of Flexi Logistics will always remain pivotal to our company and have our undying commitment,” says Loxton. “We also established a new company by the name of EQSTRA EXPRESS within this division, which is already operating and performing well above our expectations.”
A dry bulk transport company by the name of JTP in Vanderbijlpark was acquired by the Bulk Transport Division of Flexi Logistics during October 2011. “The company consists of 68 rigs and we are extremely excited about the integration of this business into that of Flexi Logistics,” notes Loxton.
During the re-alignment process the company has also grouped the Flexi Workshops, Panel Shops, Manufacturing and Rental business units into a separate division, which will all still retain the Flexi branding. According to Loxton this was done to transform these operational support functions into a more focused business unit, which will create a new landscape to build on. These units will be managed by the dedicated director, JD du Plessis.
Flexi Fleet didn’t stop at positioning the company in the transport and logistics sector, it also recognised the need to be socially and environmentally responsible. The company is rated as a level three BBBEE contributor, “which bodes well for our growth in this industry and reflects our need to live up to the ethos of being socially responsible,” notes Loxton. He also states that the company will further focus on the empowerment of people as it grows.
Loxton points out that Flexi Logistics is carbon neutral, enriching this status with its intensive carbon offset project, through its bamboo venture in Leandra, Mpumalanga. “We’ve selected 70 hectare on our premises in Leandra that was distributed between 70 unemployed locals,” says Loxton. The locals are screened and given one hectare to plant if they adhere to certain criteria. These people are also paid to plant and harvest the bamboo, which gives them and their helpers an opportunity to earn a living. “I think it really goes to the heart of what local empowerment should be,” remarks Loxton.
To the question that arises when any new company emerges – Will the company compete with the big players? – Loxton answers that Flexi Fleet isn’t remotely ready to take on the big players of this market. “We see ourselves as a niche market operator with the ability to deliver customer service at a different level, which is all we need.” The company aims to build its business on the back of sustainable service offering, rather than just hunting for big contracts. “We will not be a profit chaser, we will rather look for sustainability of good quality earnings,” Loxton declares.
Flexi Logistics doesn’t “want to shoot the lights out in terms of expansion of the business”, the aim is to firstly establish a sustainable business with a very definite market focus, Loxton points out. His aspiration for the company is to gain the necessary experience and skill sets from the market to build a sustainable platform, “and then to start slowly but surely to grow the business into a formidable competitor within the transport services market. We don’t want to be a transport company; we want to provide transport services, with the emphasis on services.”
Loxton further proclaims that he is a 100% convinced that Flexi Logistics has the right people to succeed. “We subscribe to the notion of ‘it is not the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog’. I can assure anybody that with the right people, attitude and commitment you can make a success of any business.”
This company, rebranded and revamped, may be starting off small but it will surely grow into an industry leader in the future.