With a huge range of products and a reputation for innovation, quality and great customer service HellermannTyton are a leading edge organisation in manufacturing and distribution in the Southern African electrical industry
Writer Emily Jarvis
Project manager Tom Cullum
With managing Director Rod Dewing at the helm in South Africa, HellermannTyton operates with a very customer-centric focus, working hard as a team to understand and appreciate the value of their customers. "Our corporate culture is what sets us aside from many of our competitors. We see every customer as important and as a result we have been able to maintain a long list of very loyal customers," cites Dewing.
Headquartering in Johannesburg, HellermannTyton is a subsidiary of the HellermannTyton group PLC comprised of 35 business units worldwide. with the local focus being on the manufacturing of cable tubing, cable ties, cable marking products and the supply of a vast array of other cable accessories, test instruments and tools, the company has established a comprehensive footprint country-wide to ensure that stocks of products are readily available to customers. This has been achieved through the establishment of a network of stocking branch offices in Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth and the deployment of regional sales operatives in Mpumalanga, the North Eastern Cape, Free State and Namibia.
With a name that is synonymous with very high quality, HellermannTyton is always looking for new ways to innovate. "Local customers are able to identify with our international image and the value-add that comes from doing business with a global organisation," says Dewing, proud of the fact HellermannTyton are part of a worldwide company, but still maintains its African roots.
Dewing explains how a winning aspect of the business is the choice to employ local people: "this allows us to identify with the culture and consequent relationships that we create and can build on locally. However, the overall image that we project is one of an internationally recognised business." another aspect that places them at the forefront in their industry is the quality of their products. "We have a diverse and innovative product range with over 6500 stocked lines and access to a further 5000 catalogue items. although we appreciate we are not the cheapest in the market – we are price setters not price followers – people identify with this and the consensus is that they get good bang for their buck," explains Dewing. Furthermore, as the South African arm of HellermannTyton has been in operation since 1966, it has stood the test of time in an ever-changing business landscape. "Throughout this time, we have been synonymous with the electrical industry, which is a clear indicator to customers that we are a good, stable business to work with."
Obtaining Qualified Staff
Dewing explained a big challenge on a local level is finding skilled staff: "we have seen a substantial loss of technical skills in the country. In my opinion, there has not been enough emphasis from government and training institutions to try and encourage people to study in engineering disciplines and get appropriate technical qualifications. It has been largely left to individual private sector industries to drive training forward." as a result of this, HellermannTyton have set the training of their staff and customers as top priority. Additionally, with the speed of technological advances over the last decade, staff need to be updated and re-trained as Dewing remarked: "It is not simply a case of an electrician being able to change a light bulb for example; these people need to be appropriately trained in all new technologies coming to our industry. We are constantly focused on achieving the right formula for staff development and advancement."
In light of these initiatives, HellermannTyton are planning to supply products into many new high-tech projects earmarked for the local electrical industry. One such opportunity is the renewable energy market that is only beginning to take hold in South Africa: "We would like to secure business in this sector as the phases of this massive infrastructure project continue to be rolled out in the country over the next 6 to 7 years," Dewing emphasises.
"Supply chain is central to our market leader status"
As a result of the sheer number of line and catalogue items HellermannTyton offer, it is crucial they maintain the right stock levels and keep their prices competitive as Dewing affirms: "This is super critical. The majority of the products we sell are not unique to HellermannTyton, these are products that competitors and in particular the Chinese, find very easy to copy and make," he continues: "What differentiates us from our competitors is the fact that we carry the stock, we can get to the customer quicker than the competitors can and generally speaking, we offer an attractive price, which makes the all-round package for the customer really special." China are no doubt an increasing threat to the manufacturing industry in SA, but HellermannTyton are well aware and are adjusting their strategies accordingly in order to combat the competition.
In recent times HellermannTyton have seen success come from specifying their product's features and benefits directly to end-users. "We are more than just distributors; we operate as a hub of knowledge for the products available in the market. We show them our product against our competitor's product, giving a value-added service for our broader base of distribution partners," Dewing adds: "We have a basket of products on offer and want to be the one stop shop for customers. We hope they will come to us instead of shopping in multiple places. Our broad offering is another factor that has secured good success for us."
HellermannTyton's business is growing at a steady rate in what is recognised as a subdued business climate in South Africa, suggesting that the company will continue to hold its outstanding reputation for supplying quality products and service well into the future.