Tata’s success is “built on trust and customer focus”

Brian Joss – Tata International Africa, a subsidiary of Tata International, has recorded another profitable year despite the challenging economy, shrinking markets, and the pandemic. 

The group provides skills, expertise, and various products in automotive, engineering, mining, farming, and farm equipment, in 12 countries across Africa.

 Strong growth in turnover was achieved from 2017 onwards to the extent of 40% growth year-on-year and by 2018 the company managed to break even.  The strong growth of 40% plus continued from 2018 to 2019 and returned healthy profits. The focus and resolute business strategy in place is certainly working for Tata International Africa, as the company grows its expertise and strengths in their markets.

“Our efforts of the last four years since being at the helm are bearing fruit. Piece by piece the changes in strategy, people, processes and product offering are beginning to come together to deliver meaningful profits,” says Len Brand, Chief Executive Officer at Tata International Africa and Head of Distribution Vertical, based in Johannesburg.

 “Our continued growth is also driven by having the right team in place. We are fortunate to have a resilient hard-working group of people that I am constantly impressed by. In order to achieve our vision, we developed a strong strategic plan to help us focus on the right geographies, product segments and expansion areas, to get to a consistent turnover every month.” continues Brand.

Brand says the businesses in Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria have been working exceptionally well over the past year. These include John Deere Construction and Agriculture, Tata Motors, Daewoo Trucks and Tata Truck and Bus. On the continent as a whole, getting the product mix right has been critical, supported by a strong network and relationship approach.

 “We provide products and solutions that address the specific needs of each customer, and we understand their needs because we have good relationships in place. We also make a considerable effort to understand the markets and environments in which they operate. Trust has been built and we are now reaping the benefits,” says Brand.

 The company’s success can also be attributed to a focus on supplying niche customers and helping them to be profitable. Building and maintaining partnerships based on trust and mutual respect, and applying the TATA ethos of touching communities in a sustainable manner have had a significant impact on the business.

“We expanded our after sales business to enable independent parts retailers and roadside technicians to play a major role. This innovative development programme was implemented in a two-pronged approach, both with the goal of uplifting communities and creating entrepreneurs.

“The first was to identify small business owners with entrepreneurial flair, and equipping them with the skills they needed to implement business processes and operating efficiencies to take their businesses to the next level. We strategically chose operations already up and running in prime locations, and offered to sell them genuine spare parts at a discounted rate, with a one-year buy-back guarantee.

“The second approach was to offer free training for roadside mechanics, whereby we brought these mechanics into one of our TATA facilities for three or four days, and trained them on how to fix our vehicles. The result of this has been that when one of our customers’ trucks or buses breaks down, these TATA-trained roadside mechanics go to their nearest facility, buy the genuine parts, and fix the vehicle as quickly as possible, ensuring the vehicle is back on the road and operating with maximum uptime for product owners.

“Our customers’ success has been critical to our success, and at the same time, we are extremely proud to have helped others to develop sustainable businesses,” says Brand The online availability and sale of parts has contributed significantly to growth, with customers across Africa now comfortably using the company’s online parts portal, demonstrating the potential that the Fourth Industrial Revolution can deliver in Africa.

 “Notwithstanding all that is happening in the world right now, I believe we are in a strong position. Every year will bring its moments of joy and grief; we need to stick to our core values and we will hopefully come out the other side better for it.

 “At the heart of every interaction our team undertakes we are committed to building a prosperous Africa for all. Whether it is adopting advances in technology, supporting communities through outreach programmes, upskilling mechanics or providing vehicles that are made to last under trying and tough African conditions, we remain committed to Africa,” concludes Brand.

CAPTION: Another profitable year: chief executive officer Len Brand.

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