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Africa Outlook

&
Shirtliff
Davis

DAVIS & SHIRTLIFF

The Waterboys



Davis and Shirtliff offer a comprehensive and competitive product range with regional availability and unrivalled technical and service support

Writer Matt Bone
Project Manager Donovan Smith

For nearly 70 years, Davis and Shirtliff have been distributing and installing pumps and other water related equipment throughout the East African region. Based in Nairobi, the Group has nearly 500 staff and offers a wide range of quality products in fi ve separate but interlinked segments: Water pumps, swimming pool equipment, water treatment, solar equipment and power products.

Alec Davis, CEO of Davis and Shirtliff, claims that the company is the region's dominant player and that it has been so for a number of years. There is a very wide selection of products within the various product segments and the company is proud of its record of product innovation: "We stand out as a company in two key areas: Product availability and product support: We have 38 branches spread throughout seven countries in the region from which customers can easily access any of the range of products we have available. It is this widespread availability that really sets us apart from our competitors," says Davis.

Investing in Infrastructure
An important aspect of Davis and Shirtliff's success is its continuous investment in facilities and infrastructure. Already this year five new branches have been opened and more are planned. It is not just the branch network that has been expanded; a new logistical and stock warehouse has been bought to support the regional growth. "With the occupation of the new warehouse we can now expand our stock and logistical capabilities. By being able to hold more stock, we can improve service to our customers. We are always looking for ways to strengthen the business through carefully executed investment," explains Davis. The company has also invested in its own fleet of trucks for regional deliveries, which has greatly improved service as intra-country logistic infrastructure is expensive and unreliable.

Partnering to Progress
Davis is keen to press the importance of having strong relationships with partners, some of whom have been working with Davis and Shirtliff for over 50 years: "When you have a partnership, the first thing you make sure is that both parties always understand one-another and that transparency is maintained at all times. We have been fortunate to have partnered with excellent companies over the years, notably Grundfos and Pedrollo, both of whom are global pump manufacturers and more recently Lorenz; a world leader in solar pumping and Opti; a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer of inverters as well as Champion; a battery manufacturer. Together these products have contributed to Davis & Shirtliff being a leader in power backup systems," says Davis.

A key Davis and Shirtliff strategy has been to establish its own brand – Dayliff . Products are sourced from quality Far Eastern manufacturers and they are now a growing force in the region. The main product area is a wide pump range, though the company also assembles many products in Kenya including a range of reverse Osmosis and ultra Filtration plants. "These use proven technology to purify water. At the heart of both systems is the membrane sourced from international supplier Dow, though the effectiveness of treatment relies on the correct matching of all components to provide an efficient treatment process. Dayliff plants are carefully engineered to provide reliability with the highest treated water quality," explains Davis.

Growth Based Challenges
With the East African region widely considered to be the hot economic growth area right now, Davis has seen a significant rise in the number of competitors and companies looking to participate in the growing local economies. With a rapidly developing and emerging middle class, solar power and water equipment have become strong growth areas for the company, although Davis is quick to point out that the growth is not just linked to the demographic change. "The emerging middle class has certainly had an impact on our business. However, there is also considerable infrastructure investment as well as growth of the traditional economic sectors and as the established market leader with a strong brand we are well placed to benefit from these developments," Davis adds.

To capitalise on this growth an important recent development has been an upgrade of the company's Nairobi manufacturing facilities. As well as water treatment plants it also manufactures pressure sets, solar water heaters, pool and water treatment filters and, a recent initiative, electrical control panels for pumps and the other equipment it supplies. This expansion and upgrading of the manufacturing and assembly facilities provides a timely boost to the company's capacity and will shorten lead times whilst increasing capacity and improving quality. The specialised facility is unique in the region and will considerably boost the company's technical capacity.

A Successful Future
Davis and Shirtliff is constantly looking at new and innovative ways to secure its future and Davis is confident that its new product innovations will enable the company to continue growing. Success is not just down to products, though, but also for Davis it is about combining those products with support that is second to none: "We pride ourselves on supporting people and businesses who have bought our products in any way we can. Whether it is through specialised product information, selection advice, installation or after sales service. We will always endeavour to help our clients get the best from our products," reasons Davis.

Davis feels that there are many reasons why the company has been successful over such a long period, though the quality and dedication of its staff is the main factor. There is a careful recruitment process to ensure the highest calibre candidates who are then extensively trained and they quickly absorb the culture of quality and standards. It is this integrity in both product quality and staff knowledge that has enabled Davis and Shirtliff to become the market leaders and dominant player in the water and solar sectors in Kenya.