Sorting the wheat from the chaff
By focusing on customer service and top quality products, Coast Millers is confident it can conquer the whole of Tanzania and beyond
Writer Chris Farnell
Project manager James Mitchell
Established in 1989, Coast Millers started off as a small family business, milling around 30-40 tonnes of wheat flour every day. However, over time this grew to 100 tonnes as demand and capacity increased. Today, Coast Millers produces and distributes 350 tonnes per day across Tanzania and neighbouring regions including Zanzibar and Pemba Island.
For Rahul Aggarwal, General Manager, Business Development and Director at Coast Millers, this journey from humble beginnings to nationwide prosperity has been possible thanks to the company's focus on quality.
"The key to our success is the quality of the products that we offer," he reveals. "We do not let anything leave our factory or premises until it is quality assured."
This dedication to the end product has seen Coast Millers recognised by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards for distributing and manufacturing quality products.
Customer Relationships and Service Delivery
However, it is not just product quality that has secured Coast Millers' market position, as customer relationships also play a massive part in the company's service driven strategy.
"We ensure we give a personalised service to all of our customers," notes Aggarwal. "We manage these relationships on a one-to-one basis and are always available when they need us. "We have taken a lot of time to really understand what our clients require, whether it is a bakery, biscuit manufacturer or end user. We really try to cater for all our designated customers and provide the right product to them."
As Aggarwal alludes to, Coast Millers has a wide range of different clients it provides products for. But rather than just passively producing and distributing wheat flour, the company goes the extra mile to understand what kind of business its clients are involved with.
Aggarwal explains: "We are continuing to find ways of servicing the customer to ensure deliveries are made on time. If an industrial user does not have sufficient material, their production is going to stop. If we bear this in mind, we know we cannot let our customers suffer. They remember we are working hard for them and their success ensures our success."
Family Values and Social Responsibility
As opposed to certain multinational organisations, Coast Millers keeps family values close to its heart. As such, if a customer needs help or assistance, a senior member of staff will be on hand to provide the solution.
"When companies get too big, they lose direction and the ability to understand and communicate with their customers," says Aggarwal. "At least with us, whenever a customer has issues or problems, they know they can call the manager of Coast Millers. We ensure the customers have result orientated solutions to their problems or requirements."
Early last year in partnership with Helen Keller International, Coast Millers started to fortify wheat flour with essential nutrients including Vitamin B12, Iron, Zinc and Folic Acid. "This is a long-term initiative to improve nutritional deficiency in Tanzania," notes Aggarwal.
Reaching out and helping the local community is of the upmost importance to Coast Millers at all times. In recent years, the company has donated wheat flour to charitable causes in Tanzania and continues to work closely alongside local farmers, as the country's economy is very agricultural based.
Investing in Logistics and Technology
Over the past year, Coast Millers has completed various exciting projects and invested in the necessary equipment. In addition to increasing its silo storage base by 16,000 metric tonnes and commissioning a new plant capable of producing 120 tonnes of wheat flour per day, Coast Millers has also been paying close attention to its supply chain.
"We continue to invest in logistics to always ensure we have enough trucks and vehicles to move cargo," says Aggarwal. "But our main goal with the projects we initiated in 2013 is to increase production and turnover so we can be a lot stronger in the market."
Spending capital on technology is another "very important" part of Coast Millers strategy going forward according to Aggarwal. Not just when it comes to the production side of things, but also on an administration level too.
"We are very much a company that tries to go with the times," he cites. "A lot of the machinery we have invested in is fully automated, so one computer controls the entire process flow of the plant.
"We are trying to go more paperless as well. We are looking at managing everything through the Internet and systems we have online."
While Aggarwal admits that certain challenges will always exist, including time constraints associated with regulatory bodies as well as clearing both imported and exported goods through customs, he sees no reason why Coast Millers cannot continue to expand despite its modest size.
"Although we might not be very big, we still believe in growth," he reveals. "We are not the type of company that stops once a certain level has been reached. We want to keep on growing and improving while staying strong in the market through different marketing strategies and an ongoing presence."
Looking even further ahead, Aggarwal clearly believes that Coast Millers has great potential to succeed in the future. "In five years I think we will see Coast Millers with better technology, greater efficiency, improved logistical infrastructure and a larger turnover. But more so than anything, our main goal is to be everywhere in Tanzania and have a strong footprint in neighbouring markets as well," he confidently finishes.