Matus is a cut above when it comes to wholesale hardware quality, the company continually striving to improve on its products, customer engagement and technological proficiency.
The recent hardships facing South Africa have been well documented.
The country’s political transition since 1994 is renowned as one of the most remarkable political feats of the past century, yet, from an economic standpoint, overall progress has slowed in the past half-decade.
The South African economy has failed to grow by more than two percent in any year since 2014, and once population growth is factored in, per capita growth has been close to nil throughout this entire period.
There’s always a silver lining, however.
Within this climate, certain businesses have shown incredible adaptability and proactivity in overcoming numerous hurdles, local tool and hardware wholesaler Matus standing as a prime example of the ingenuity that can be derived from the need to make the best of a somewhat stagnant situation.
“South Africa’s a tough market to be operating in at the moment, no question,” explains Sibusiso Khumalo, the company’s Product and Marketing Executive. “The industrial goods sector has become increasingly saturated, making it harder and harder to stand out from the crowd.
“Amidst some customers battling through financial hardships, we understand that people will sometimes opt for cheaper options available on the market.
In order to strengthen our differentiation, we have been working hard to ensure that we continue to offer great service at a fair value across our entire product range.”
So how exactly does Matus set itself ahead of the field? In the eyes of Khumalo, this is down to the diversity and quality of the company’s offering coupled with a unique culture.
“First, our products,” he states. “Not only do we offer customers our own brand tools, but those of our exclusive partner brands and non-exclusive partner brands as well. The choice we provide is honestly unmatched in the industry and, regarding product quality from our compressors to homologation on dust masks, the quality and compliance of our entire range is of the highest standard.
“Second, we are part of the Bidvest Group, benefitting from strong backing from one of South Africa’s leading corporations.
Through this, we’re able to strike a balance between maintaining Matus’s originally family-led values and improving our performance year after year.
“That combination keeps things fresh and exciting. What keeps us up at night is not a focus on price – it’s thinking about how to always provide greater value to our customers and remain sustainable.”
MEETING MARKET NEEDS
This strategic emphasis on continual improvement is best reflected by an extensive array of diversified investments that the company has been pursuing of late.
Digital transformation is one such category within this, its efforts concentrated on leveraging critical technologies such as data analytics in order to better be in touch with the demands of its customers and end users.
“How can we better understand customer behaviour and increase customer engagement by looking at digital activities? These are the sorts of areas we’re exploring,” Khumalo explains.
“Because we’re a wholesale distributor, it can be tricky for us to create direct channels with the end users. But these technologies will help us – we recognise that the best way to keep customers coming back to us is when the end user continues to specifically request our products.”
As part of its attempts to create such a dynamic strategy, Matus continues to work with colleges and schools from across South Africa by training and donating products to them in some cases.
In doing so trainee industrial professionals familiarise themselves with its tools and brands, which thereby become the brands of choice from the outset.
Further, the enterprise is constantly looking to plug any gaps in the market.
“Within our MAT-Weld range we recently released a 230-amp welder, offering this at the same price point as a 200-amp model,” Khumalo states. “And we’re constantly reviewing our packaging to ensure it’s as attractive and informative as possible.”
Successful as these efforts have been, Matus can’t claim all the credit for its recent strides. And indeed it doesn’t, the Product and Marketing Executive pointing to the vital role of its employees, partners and suppliers.
“Between our experienced, knowledgeable staff who have been here for 20 or even 30 years in some cases and the new talent that we’re bringing in all the time to keep new ideas flowing, we have a fantastic mixture in our workforce,” he affirms.
“Likewise, our correspondence with customers is equally important. In some surrounding countries, for instance, we have an amazing relationship with local partners – distributors which helps us in spreading our products across the country.
“I think this is one of our strengths. We pay a lot of attention to these clients as they allow us to deliver stock to central locations before selling them throughout each respective region.”
Improving the platform for growth
In support of the latter, Matus has created a network of five sizeable distribution centres throughout South Africa to make life easier for its customers.
“We’ve seen that these companies often don’t have the capital to hold large amounts of stock, but they still want to cater to the needs of their own customers on demand,” Khumalo comments. “These centres allow us to be closer to our customers, which helps them better meet their own clients’ needs.”
Moving forward, these distribution centres will form a large part of the organisation’s continual improvement efforts.
At its site in Durban, the firm is undertaking a major new build initiative aimed at improving efficiencies across picking, packing and the moving of products that is hoped to be complete in August 2020. Once successful, the company will then begin similar initiatives at its flagship Johannesburg hub.
“Like every company we want to grow, and these facilities upgrades or new builds are a major part of that process,” Khumalo states, ending our conversation on an optimistic note as his attention turns to the future.
“For the very same reason, we’ll continue to enhance our technologies, our customer relationship management systems, our use of intelligent data, and look for new opportunities both in South Africa and beyond.
“The support we get from Bidvest, our internal stakeholders and our partners places us in good stead to achieve in each of these areas. We want to become more relevant in new markets and are certainly excited for the coming years.