Mantrac Nigeria distributes and supports the full range of Caterpillar construction machines, power systems and material handling equipment. We talk to strategic planning and marketing manager James Agama.
Writer Chris Farnell
Project manager James Mitchell
The Mantrac Group is the sole dealer of Caterpillar products across the African continent and Mantrac Nigeria is their Nigerian division. This unique market position has meant that for over 60 years the company has been closely involved with the vast majority of major construction jobs across Nigeria.
Providing sales and rentals of Caterpillar products, as well as maintenance, servicing and onsite training for the same, Mantrac Nigeria has fortified a dominant position in the construction and earthmoving markets, and it is proving increasingly essential for the power generation needs of the oil and gas sector.
It's hardly a surprise that the last decade has seen a 300 percent rate of growth as the company has expanded to ten separate branches around the country.
And Mantrac Nigeria is needed now more than ever, as Nigeria is in need of a huge overall to its infrastructure.
"There is a heavy, heavy infrastructure deficit in our country with regards to power and construction," says Mantrac Nigeria's strategic planning and marketing manager James Agama.
Poor infrastructure naturally makes business more difficult.
"Like most multinationals in our country, we find the infrastructure can be very challenging," Agama admits. "The operating cost is high. Also there are limits on the resources which are available."
Mantrac Nigeria has placed itself as a crucial resource in correcting that deficit across the country.
"We are partners in developing the infrastructure of this country and we're looking at new ways to make things better," Agama tells us. "We're doing all that we can to help the country. Presently, for example, we've partnered with Setraco in one of the major infrastructure projects in the Niger Delta area. We're providing the equipment that makes it possible for them to work there. That's a major project in this country so we're showing strength in that partnership."
This isn't a fly by night operation however. Mantrac is committed to a long term investment in Nigeria's national infrastructure. "
We're here for the long haul, we're committed to Nigeria, and we know that we are willing to help and be involved as much as possible to get the country where it wants to be," Agama says proudly. "We are the largest company in this field. We have become the benchmark for quality here."
Looking forward the company is aiming to drive its coverage across the country, while providing the best value for money it can from its brands, fuelled by well built one-on-one relationships with customers.
But that's just the beginning.
Talking to Agama it is abundantly clear that he is very excited for the future. the company has been building an increasingly significant presence in the power generation sector, which he believes holds great future potential, and the company's consistent support of new infrastructure is going to pay off as the demand for more industrial equipment continues to grow.
However none of that is worth anything if the company is not able to find and retain the skilled people who make that business happen.
Perhaps the single key facet of the business is the company's people management. while being the sole provider of Caterpillar products to the region gives mantrac a market advantage, it's one that's worth nothing without the company's extremely knowledgeable staff. That staff is able to offer exemplary service, with every member of the team possessing an in depth knowledge of the Caterpillar products they sell. This is thanks to a highly selective recruitment process and the company's ability to take advantage of comprehensive product training.
"We use a mix of direct recruitment and agencies, depending on what sort of position we are looking to fill. As well as our superb recruitment processes, we are working to bring in new roles such as my own strategy planning position. Meanwhile we are also acquiring new platforms that make it easier for our staff and customers to interact, such as the newly launched SalesForce CRM system we recently installed which will make those relationships stronger," Agama tells us.
At the forefront of its strategy is a world class staff development programme. "We pride ourselves on providing a training programme for a lot of people. The Mantrac group runs training across the many different countries in which we operate," Agama says. "Our courses are tailored towards improving the person as well as what they bring to the business. We also work hard to ensure that we are offering the best in terms of benefit and welfare packages, so that after we've invested in our staff they want to stay with the business."
However, as well as benefiting from global training resources, Mantrac also places a great deal of value in local knowledge. Agama points out, "We have a global practice but we also rely heavily on the local knowledge. We hire staff that have lived in this country and understand the local environment."
That understanding is becoming especially important as the markets in Nigeria are in a constant state of change, especially with other international brands attempting to get a foothold on the market.
"The competitive landscape has changed over the years," Agama admits. "There are new brands constantly popping up. In particular there are a lot of Chinese brands in Nigeria now. Possibly the biggest challenge we've faced are that the market is changing on a regular basis. To combat these new realities we are looking at how we define our processes, how we meet the customer and how we can provide new products that allow us to fight on quality not affordability."
It's a strategy that's paying off.
"The last 12 months have been better than the previous year, there's interest coming in on all fronts as a result of the investment we've put into the business finally beginning to see results in terms of new products and processes," Agama says. "We've been here for over 60 years, and in most developing countries the infrastructure still needs a lot of work. We're hoping as a business to help our country reach the infrastructure levels every Nigerian desires. That is why in the last few years we've invested so heavily in the business."
To learn more visit www.mantracnigeria.com.