From the mountainous kingdom of Swaziland right up to Kenya on the east coast, from the sands of Namibia up to war-shredded DRC and Congo on the west, with all the stretches of savannah and skyscrapers in between, and even including a hop to the honeymoon islands of Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius and Comores ... Goodyear tyres are rolling across sub-Saharan Africa.
Goodyear's footprint is the most comprehensive of all tyre manufacturers on the continent. These are countries and cultures so diverse - and some so volatile - that each requires focused attention in order to satisfy product requirements and nurture the market. For this reason, Goodyear has strategically grouped its sub-Saharan customers into clusters, based mostly on their proximity to one another, managed by a dedicated team and led by a Cluster Director.
(Some members of this important team were photographed at Goodyear's Retail Conference recently. Behind, from left: are Jeff Luck, Taps Maikokera and Carel van der Merwe. In front, from left: Balang Ookeditse Balang, Rolf Röhrmuller and David Phuthego.)
South West cluster
The African customers closest - and in many ways most similar - to the South African market, are those in the South West African cluster of Namibia, Angola and Botswana. The team is led by Rolf Röhrmuller and includes regional managers Carel van der Merwe (Angola), Balang Ookeditse Balang (Botswana) and David Phuthego (Botswana), finance managers Taps Maikokera (Botswana) and Jeff Luck (Namibia), and area sales managers Gerrie Barnard, Piet Lourens, Eugene Walters and Trevor Britten.This cluster's head office is in Windhoek.
- NAMIBIA currently has the strongest footprint of the three, with 17 retail branches, 6 on-sites (mining operations), three warehouses and one inbound store.
- ANGOLA has six retail branches, two warehouses and no on-sites.
- BOTSWANA has 8 retail branches, six on-sites and one warehouse.
"Of the three, Angola offers Goodyear the biggest growth opportunity. With a population of 18.5-million, the potential market is double that of Namibia or Botswana. Goodyear hopes to make solid inroads, engaging here with third parties, independents and wholesales. Finding appropriate business partners is key to our success in Angola," Rolf explains.
"Trentyre Angola recently opened two new retail branches, in Luanda and Huambo. We have also appointed four more third party and independent agents, and are already seeing returns on this extended network in the market. We are also looking into the viability of a retread factory for commercial tyres.
"The biggest challenge in Angola remains that of corporate governance. It is very important to us that business is conducted in an ethical way, the Goodyear way, and we strive to lead with integrity."
Rolf says that the key drive in Namibia was, similarly, for Goodyear to secure reputable third party agents, especially in the north which holds half the population.
"We have three branches in the north but have not yet established a presence in the little outer lying towns, which are a potential market. In Namibia, we definitely foresee a bigger share of market. Our Operation Nam Consumer and Operation Nam Commercial programmes are bearing fruit, and our emphasis is on unit sales. Our marketing programmes in Namibia are aligned with Goodyear's message of Safety Together, so we participate in safety campaigns and work with government in improving road safety."
In Botswana, too, Goodyear's drive is to strengthen relationships with agents and independents to build share of market. As in Namibia, marketing strategies here also focus on safety campaigns.
"Our mining customers, in particular, like to see our proactive involvement in safety. Trentyre's QSMA system is a strong marketing tool and has helped boost our share of the mining market. We have developed strong relationships with the mines and make sure we protect this existing customer base.
"This year we are rebuilding our premises in Gaborone, which burnt down last year, and we will make the most of our opening in August. Our retread factory will be behind the store, which will get excellent exposure thanks to our position along a busy highway," he says in conclusion.