Pursuing Operational Excellence
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Arron Rampling
The effects of globalisation, rapid technological advancement, a 24-seven culture and the introduction of millennials to the work place (to mention a few paradigm shifts), have had noticeable consequences to the business landscape we find ourselves in. The ability to navigate and thrive in an environment that is volatile requires a different set of leadership skills and an innovative approach to strategy formulation and implementation. Dunlop believes that its people are its greatest competitive advantage and the development of a culture that inspires, retains and attracts the right talent is a top priority for the Company.
Following a series of mergers and acquisitions since the 1990s, Dunlop Industrial Products (Dunlop) has made concerted efforts to strengthen and expand its product portfolio and manufacturing operations in order to optimise future growth prospects.
Since joining the Company, Managing Director, Trevor Howard-Tripp has played a key part in driving growth within the Dunlop operation. He explains: “Dunlop Industrial Products is now owned by REMA TIP TOP, a German-based organisation with a significant global footprint. REMA TIP TOP is present in 117 countries and has 13 manufacturing facilities globally. We are able to leverage synergies from the Group to help the Dunlop brand globalise its operations in the face of an economy that has slowed down.
“We are no longer just a South African Company; our supply now extends to South America, Europe, Australia and Africa. Achieving operational excellence in our manufacturing operations requires skilled and engaged employees, an ideal company structure, clearly communicated supporting systems and a mindset of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is a day-to-day challenge in the markets that we face and we are committed to ensuring that we implement small improvements on a regular basis while monitoring industry trends in order to expand our products beyond the continent and partner with others along the way to further enhance the business.”
By accessing REMA TIP TOP’s industry-leading expertise and global footprint, Dunlop has been able to maximise success locally and abroad. These impressive growth levels can also be attributed to business focus areas that have ensured the Dunlop strategy remains relevant: “Our People, Our Planet, Our Product”.
Dunlop’s drive is to find the right people who complement the culture of the organisation and who support and uphold its values. “Our highly skilled and engaged people are one of the key success factors of our business. In striving towards, and living out mutually agreed values, we are committed to actively developing all employees in the Company. We have defined ourselves as a learning organisation and continue to build and retain a workforce of knowledge workers. Through our ‘Brand Academy’, an initiative of our Training Foundation, we ensure the upskill of all employees and strategic partners of our Group of Companies,” explains Howard-Tripp.
He further emphasises: “If we want to keep on growing, it is important to keep on educating not just our own people, but customers and strategic partners as well. In line with this, we established our Brand Academy. Every employee has to go through product-orientated training in order to create clarity, and engagement within our teams. We include our customers in these sessions as well which leads to transparency of our operations and greater insight into our product lines. Training is one of our focus areas, and to succeed in challenging times we must continue to work with our partners going forward; we have become more than just a supplier to our customers, but a strategic partner and solution provider,” emphasises Howard-Tripp.
The Company’s state-of-the-art technology and pioneering innovations deliver a product that is customer- centric, ensuring sustainability of customer operations and in turn, Dunlop itself. “Our international sales and service network offers a wide range of efficient services and maximum customer proximity. Our products and service systems are tailored especially to the customers’ needs providing economically efficient and technically proven solutions. Customers profit from a differentiated product range and optimum all-round customer care by our qualified specialists,” highlights Howard-Tripp.
With a history tracing back to the 1900s, Dunlop is fortunate to have obtained several industry-leading blue-chip customers who capitalise on the Company’s expanding product offering as he further explains: “When presenting all our products to the customer, we can show them that if they choose us as a partner, we can offer a more cost-effective total industrial solution. Gone are the days of simply supplying a core product; we now provide after sales service and maintenance. The saving for the customer is far greater in the long-term and this is what gives us a competitive edge.”
In support of this vision to ultimately become an integrated solution provider, and equipped with the understanding that its products are a life line for customer operations, Dunlop continues to have an active research and development division; creating innovative solutions that take its products to another level. “One of our breakthrough innovations, focusing on our customer needs to reduce downtime in their operations, has been the use of technology to create monitoring solutions, increasing transparency and speed in our maintenance offering,” he adds.
Corporate Strategist, Myrna Brauns, who joined the organisation in 2012, has contributed to the development of various initiatives at Dunlop. She discusses: “We are committed to principled business conduct and operating in a responsible manner, minimising the impact on the environment and ensuring the wellbeing of our customers, employees and the communities in which we operate. We believe that an integrated and transparent approach to governance, ethics, risk and compliance, will strengthen our values and promote our objectives as a responsible business.”
She further confirms: “In a practical extension of our commitment, we empower our people at all levels of the organisation, developing leadership capabilities and the relevant skills in order to shape the Company’s successful future.”
The impetus for Dunlop’s corporate social investment (CSI) originates largely from the Company’s desire to be a contributor to the solution in South Africa by stimulating the economy through various initiatives. “We are focused on good corporate citizenship and empowerment, and central to this is the desire to be a part of creating economic stability and growth within South Africa. Our current initiatives in this division focus on job creation and the empowerment and transfer of skills to young entrepreneurs (SMME’s) and interns,” Brauns continues.
Dunlop supports the South African government’s transformation objectives and is committed to the implementation of B-BBEE; taking proactive steps to ensure that the Company adopts and implements an achievable B-BBEE strategy that contributes to the sustainability of the business.
She summarises: “Our strategy is aimed at fulfilling all the necessary requirements for total B-BBEE compliance. Through a diligent and disciplined approach, we have been able to secure a Level 3 rating which is a value-add for all customers doing business with us within the borders of South Africa.
“One of our values, and an internal mandate, ‘WIN AS A TEAM’, has been instrumental in driving the right behaviour within our organisation and has further spread to enhance the relationships between our customers and strategic partners.”