New facility reinforces Wirtgen’s confidence in southern Africa
First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
Wirtgen South Africa's new facility represents a massive 300% increase in space compared to the old one
The Wirtgen Group has invested in excess of ZAR50 million (US$3.14 million) into a new facility for its Wirtgen South Africa (SA) subsidiary. Despite the current economic slowdown, Heinrich Schulenburg, MD of Wirtgen SA, believes the investment into a new facility signals the German group’s confidence in the long-term business prospects for southern Africa.
The project is in line with the Wirtgen Group’s on-going investments into several capital projects in the global market. Speaking at the official opening, Jürgen Wirtgen, president of the Wirtgen Group, said the group has recently invested billions of Euros into the expansion of its various facilities and factories internationally to improve service to customers. “For us, it’s not only important to sell machines, but to be able to provide first-class service and training as well,” he said.
Wirtgen SA previously occupied a 2,500m² piece of land and the new facility occupies a massive 18,000m². Office space has been increased from 860m² to 2,500m². Overall, the new facility represents a massive 300% increase in space.
“It’s a step forward for us. It’s a new chapter in our history. We now have a facility that suits the needs of this market and gives us the opportunity to address those demands in a very professional and competitive way. We have essentially tripled warehousing and storage space and dramatically increased the maintenance workshop capacity. That allows us to better service our customers,” said Schulenburg.
“We have also created more space in the yard to be able to stock more relevant products and maybe even products that have never been available for this market before. We have set ourselves some ambitious targets. Even though the market is in a decreasing phase, we believe we can increase our market share.”
Wirtgen SA’s territory of responsibility is South Africa and all the neighbouring countries, including Swaziland and Lesotho, as well as Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. Due to their reliance on mining, most of these countries are experiencing a huge economic downturn due to the downward commodity price trend.
Schulenburg reasons that Swaziland and Lesotho are small economies and are very reliant on South Africa. If South Africa sneezes, they catch the cold.
He believes Mozambique has huge potential, but just like South Africa, it is a resource-rich and resource-reliant country. With commodity prices down, the whole economy is in a difficult space, and investments into infrastructure are slowing.
“The southern African market is in a very depressed phase. I don’t think it’s going to bounce back in the short term. For us, we are entering a consolidation phase. We are trying to buckle down and improve our service. After sales service and better spare parts provision are of utmost importance moving forward,” says Schulenburg.