During August I have been in active communication with Mr (Justin Wolf of GRW GmbH regarding the possibility of cooperation in supplying us with tipping silo semi trailers. Although I was honestly very skeptical about the fact that the idea is to supply us trailers produced in South Africa, I remembered how I was initially greeted with doubt when I offered our transport services to major corporate clients. We knew that we can offer quality transport services equal or better than any of the established competitors on the market,but there was a reluctance as we were a new supplier on the market, and we came from European area that is not well known for silo transporters.
Mr Wolf has done his homework and brought in the EU (German) flavor by informing me that his company is already in cooperation with renowned Schmitz Cargobull which has in July 2017 acquired 33% of GRW shares in South Africa. My final doubtfulness was dissipated by his convinced call : “Come and see!”
I honestly do not know what was I expecting to see in 20 Abattoir Street, Worcester, South Africa, but I certainly did not expect to see a sophisticated transport equipment manufacturer based on the southernmost point of the planet. The company is set in industrial area of Worcester ,town of cca 100.000 residents situated 120km north-east of Cape Town surrounded by magnificent Stettyns and Du Toitskloof mountains and is on par with any European factory that I have seen. The hospitable and competent staff was at my disposal the whole time providing me with in debt access to their organization.
My first surprise was that everybody spoke English in addition to Afrikaans which is a Boer version of Dutch language. The second was meticulous attention to details as I have seen Kanbaan and strict safety rules introduced on the production floor.
And there were more surprises on this floor, as I have expected extensive use of manual labor. This was not the case. I was present during the process of welding of chassis beams which was performed by 2 (two!) workers, one spot welder and one crane operator. Their job was to prepare the beam for a robot which, after taking the bearings of the beam, continued the aluminum welding process in accordance to its program. The trailer was being fitted with all usual equipment already such as BPW axles, Wabco brakes, Hyva hydraulics…
During the evening I was attending a Braai and had a chance to speak with managing partners , Wentzel and Gerhard van der Merwe , Rossouw van Eden and their top managers which are all over a decade (some almost 2 decades ) in the company. During our talk over some local wine I felt determination in them that was reminiscent to our company’s meetings , especially those that happened in advance of groundbreaking events.
I have felt the need to share my expiriences regarding my visit to South Africa as I was already approached by some transporters. The trailer that I observed in production will be shown this year IAA in Hannover so it could be additional confirmation of my observations. What is definite is that the old rules are changing and that new competitors are arising, from the most unexpected places , whether it is Serbia or South Africa.
The lions are awake, hear them roar!