While initial lockdown, implemented in South Africa at midnight on 26 March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19, was in full swing, Wacker Neuson South Africa was responsibly assisting the agricultural and forestry sectors with much needed repairs and machinery supply. “Downtime is simply not an option for essential services,” says Managing Director of Wacker Neuson Sub-Saharan Africa, Dennis Vietze. “It is therefore imperative that they have unrestricted access to the necessary machines and equipment which must be kept in good running order so that critical business activities can continue without interruption.”
“We successfully applied for an essential service certificate to enable us to support and be there for our essential services customers whenever they have a need,” affirms Vietze. Thanks to the Wacker Neuson team who serviced equipment, completed a couple of maintenance and repair jobs and also sold some much needed machines, their customers in the agricultural and forestry industries were able to carry on seamlessly with their everyday business during complete lockdown. In order to protect both Wacker Neuson technicians as well as customers, the company practises all necessary hygiene measures with all staff wearing face masks, using hand sanitiser and practicing social distancing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the global economy into a crisis, impacting practically every business and industry in varying degrees. “Almost all sectors took a bad knock in their business environments during the last 2,5 months,” notes Vietze. “Some of the market sectors we serve have been crippled by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown with construction for example, essentially coming to a standstill for close on two months.” A staggering number of formal job losses of between 120 000 to 140 000 have been estimated by construction market intelligence firm, Industry Insight. Vietze says that although they are seeing an upward trend in business activities following the reopening of this sector, he expects that most companies will most probably operate in survival mode over the next few months.
Despite these unprecedented and challenging times, there remains a sense of optimism amongst the Wacker Neuson team in South Africa. “Pinpointing lucrative opportunities, making the right decisions, being flexible, adopting a positive attitude and keeping the passion and belief will make all the difference so that we are ready to move forward as lock down eases and the economy rebounds,” states Vietze.
“I remain optimistic and personally see an upturn of the economy in Q3 and Q4. There is still a lot of positivity out there. You just have to know where to look. Our valuable and passionate Wacker Neuson partners, including our dealers, will give anything to immediately start their business recovery. Nobody wants to fail and we foresee massive opportunities within construction and especially in the agricultural sector as they make up for lost time.”
Wacker Neuson South Africa understands and supports the decision made by Government to put into place all measures necessary to reduce the potential fast spread of the infection and the company is strictly adhering to all the rules and regulations. According to Vietze, implementing a work-from-home policy was fairly seamless. “All staff that was in a position to work from home packed up and started working from their respective home offices the very next day and this is going well. We made sure that our internal processes and systems remain operational. I can say with confidence that the impact from working and operating in a very different way has been barely noticeable.”
Under partial lockdown, Wacker Neuson is motivating all staff who is able to continue working remotely from home to do so for as long as possible. Wacker Neuson is providing hand sanitisers and face masks to those staff members who, due to the nature of their jobs, are obliged to come into the office. In addition, posters have been put up to educate staff as well as customers and suppliers on the practices of good hygiene, the importance of social distancing, etc. Vietze adds that in line with new COVID-19 staff policies, any staff member who is not feeling well must stay at home and report to a doctor immediately. Temperatures are taken of every person, be it a staff member, a customer or supplier, before entering Wacker Neuson’s premises.
“Thanks to our flexible business model, not only has our team adapted considerably well but staff members have remained positive throughout lockdown. I definitely foresee the implementation of more home-office days in the foreseeable future,” says Vietze. “Once lockdown restrictions have been lifted, I am confident that we will have a perfectly healthy balance between office work and home-office work, indefinitely. I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the staff for their commitment and dedication throughout these testing times. And finally, I would like to assure all our customers that we are open for business and that we are here, ready to serve their needs.”