Pirtek Africa is supplying quality fluid transfer products and solutions to all kinds of industrial clients, at the same time empowering local entrepreneurs through its franchise business model
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Josh Mann
Almost every industry requires the transfer of fluid in some shape or form.
From the oils and lubricants, chemicals, food, fuel and water, commercial activity all over the world is reliant on fluid transfer solutions, be it mining, construction, manufacturing, energy and everything in between.
It is a fact of industry that will never change, and since 1980 Australian-born Pirtek has been an ever-present and market leading supplier of such products and related services, moving into the African continent in 1999 and never looking back.
Kieron Goss helped to build up and now leads this African division as Managing Director.
“Prior to that I was also involved with Pirtek in Australia,” he recalls. “Our family has roots in South Africa and we took the decision with the support of head office in Australia to start up in South Africa. There was always room in the market for a company such as Pirtek and since 1999 we have had year on year growth.
“The African market is one of the largest in the world and also one with the most potential for a company such as ours to grow and flourish – we view Africa as one of the next big markets for Pirtek as a global organisation. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the organisation here, an achievement that highlights how Pirtek is a great brand and also a great company to work for.”
Today, Pirtek has presence through multiple channels and franchises in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, DRC, Nigeria, Ghana and Angola.
Its core business centres on the supply of hydraulic and industrial hoses and fittings to customers across a huge range of industries, including automotive, transport, oil and gas, mining, marine, manufacturing, engineering, construction and defence.
Globally, the company’s reach spans 23 countries with more than 400 centres and 1,500-plus mobile service units helping to deliver a responsive and premium service in the shortest possible turnaround time. This network allows Pirtek to reach over 120,000 customers with more than 13,000 product lines, its 3,000-strong team answering 300,000 service calls a year.
Indeed, this merging of global strength with local expertise is what, for Goss, stands Pirtekapart in Africa.
He adds: “Fundamental to our business model in Africa is to partner with local companies to develop their business using our best-in-class products, systems, training and solutions towards the very principle that has driven Pirtek globally since its beginning in 1980 – service… guaranteed.
“Together with our partners we are able to provide global service locally. Pirtek has great products and systems but our biggest asset is the people within our organisation and the companies we partner with. Pirtek has always maintained a family feeling based on relationships despite being a large multinational company.”
Such relationships with partners, as highlighted by Goss, are central to the firm’s ongoing success story, whether it be international collaborations with manufacturers such as Bridgestone and Intertraco or partnerships with local entrepreneurs as franchisees.
“These companies produce the highest quality products for Pirtek which means that we can have full confidence in what we are supplying to our customers, and they in turn have comfort that they are getting a great product,” the MD continues.
“We in turn seek to partner with local businesspeople that share not only in our vision, but are inherently known for representing world-class brands and products, including businesses that have established themselves in the markets that we serve.”
So, how does Pirtek ensure it onboards the right people to expand its brand as a new franchisee?
It is a vital question, and one that is answered in four stages which can be summarised by Project RITA – research, identify, travel and appoint.
“A company’s reputation in the local market is key to our expansion efforts,” Goss reiterates.
“For this, it is critical that we engage with the end-users of our products such as mines, OEMs, and construction companies – they will very quickly inform you of companies that have a good reputation for our core values of integrity, customer centricity, community and social awareness and service. This is what we look for in our business partners.”
This level of scrutiny will be vital in ensuring Pirtek expands responsibly into new markets, growth being a key priority for Goss as the company enters its next chapter on the African continent.
It has a short, medium and long-term strategy in place to expand its network into every market and region in Africa by 2025, a plan underpinned by flexibility and agility and built on establishing new relationships with franchisees and product distribution partners.
Another part of Pirtek’s strategy is focussed on engagement with enterprise development agencies and governments throughout Africa where it is able to identify, empower and develop young entrepreneurs with their own small business, empowerment of local entrepreneurs something which Goss and the company value deeply.
These plans leave the Managing Director instilled with optimism when looking ahead to the future.
His concluding comments, while acknowledging that challenges lie ahead, restate his confidence in Pirtek’s ability to serve clients new and old.
“We believe that we have the agility and flexibility to overcome any challenge that the industry throws at us.
“There are a few challenges that has a direct effect to the industry in Africa particularly that are out of our control such as political instability, availability of foreign currency, corruption, commodity prices and poverty. This makes the importance of having local content that have ‘their ears on the ground’ at all times even more important.”