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Atlas Copco compressor technique South Africa: "Stepping it up"

Pieter van Wyk, General Manager, Atlas Copco Compressor Technique South Africa

Pieter van Wyk, General Manager, Atlas Copco Compressor Technique South Africa

Hello and welcome again from myself and the Compressor Technique South Africa team. It feels like it was only the other day that I shared with you some of our plans and outcomes over the first quarter of 2021, our outlook for the rest of this year and how we have been dealing with COVID-19. Incredibly, we find ourselves over halfway through the year. Quarter 2 was indeed very busy for us and I am happy to report that this trend seems to be continuing into the third quarter.

Before I give some insight into our business activities during Q2, I would firstly like to say that it is my sincere hope that you and yours are safe and well as the country continues to struggle under the grip of the pandemic.

Covid-19 has certainly highlighted the fact that people are a company’s most valuable assets. Our staff, together with our valued customers and suppliers, form the core of our successful business eco-system. I am therefore dedicating a large portion of my message to our Compressor Technique staff. I would like to give a shout out to our valued team whose commitment during these uncertain times is paramount and they did not disappoint. It is not easy to maintain focus in the midst of the COVID chaos. Even if our physical health is not affected by the virus, our mental well-being is. I am therefore extremely proud of our team members who have been coping well for the most part under these trying circumstances. In this ever changing environment, they are really adapting well and quickly to change. In order to support them and help them to maintain a positive attitude, we have implemented various sessions and programs which are managed from the central HR team through Reality Wellness. This has been well received and supported by everyone.

The team has also grown over these past few months with seven new permanent members as well as five interns joining the Compressor Technique family. Most of the permanent appointments are within the sales and service space as part of our ongoing customer-centric approach to bolster our service levels. In December 2020, we appointed Celeste Adolph, who joined Atlas Copco as an intern in 2019, as my P.A. / Marketing Assistant. Jaydon Prinsloo moved from his former position (Technical Service Coordinator) within Atlas Copco Compressor Technique to join us as Advanced Service Sales Engineer in April this year. We boosted our sales with the appointment in May of three new sales representatives in our Industrial air division; Promise Radebe who looks after our customers in Johannesburg West, the Vaal triangle as well as the North West Province, the Northern Cape and Free State, and Tammy Munien and Gavin Julius who oversee Kwazulu Natal, and Western and Eastern Cape respectively. We also have a new Field Service Technician, Siphamandla Ndaleni, operating in Durban. These last four employees are all new to our organisation.

I can honestly see the fruits of our Intern program which has been running for a few years now. We are training and developing some good talent for the organisation. A few interns have secured permanent employment both within Atlas Copco as well as outside the group, which is ultimately the goal of the program. In addition to Celeste, a second intern, Muhammad Ahmed, filled a permanent position as internal sales in our CTS division in November 2020. Recognising an increasing requirement for skilled people in the organisation as we grow our business, we stepped up even more and I am pleased to welcome interns Temia Damons, Tebogo Lefophana, Saveshni Naidoo, Zandile Radebe and Philela Quntana to Compressor Technique.

I consider all these appointments as a great achievement, especially considering that companies are having to let people go. I am also pleased to reveal that, from this Intern program, we have identified more people for permanent positions for the remainder of this year and even into early 2022. It would be amiss of me not to give mention to our diversity program which was introduced with the objective of developing a balanced and diverse team.

Moving on to business matters, in my Q1 communique, I shared with you some of our revised strategies and the restructuring in a few business areas in order to minimise the effect of the pandemic and its associated lockdowns, regulations and protocols, on our product and service delivery. We never want to use Covid-19 as an excuse for poor delivery so for us it remains a matter of no-holds-barred to keep the customer experience seamless. I believe we are seeing the rewards of our proactive approach and early actions in a bid to safeguard our business.

The 2021 results reflect positive growth, and we are also seeing good activity in the market for both new equipment as well as aftermarket services. Key market segments like mining and some manufacturing sectors are notably showing more activity which is encouraging. However, towards the end of Q2, with the surge of the 3rd wave, actual customer visits started presenting a challenge, forcing us to take the virtual / e-meetings route. Fortunately, we are geared for this so we will be able to keep up the momentum.

Uncertainty is another challenge at the moment as we are seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 numbers and different rules coming into effect daily. However, I believe we are well equipped to handle this, and to adapt accordingly. As I mentioned earlier, this is where the solid support of our people during this time is critical, and Atlas Copco is doing a lot as a company to ensure that this is achieved.

Most industries seem to have adapted to the new way of doing business. As a result we are seeing a lot more stability in the local industry landscape. However, we should not become complacent, especially in light of the presence of this third wave. It is good to see that the roll out of the vaccines is gaining traction.

I would like to close on a positive note. We have reason to celebrate as 2021 is the 25th anniversary of Atlas Copco’s innovative Variable Speed Drive (VSD) technology. When this technology was first introduced to South Africa, there was some resistance as industry felt the low electricity rates did not warrant the higher capital investment in VSD machines. The situation today is very different; electricity is no longer a cheap (or stable) commodity and is going to get even more expensive, coupled with ongoing instability issues. Taking into account that compressed air can make up to 40% of a plant’s total electricity bill and that VSD technology can save customers up to 50% on their energy consumption, the market is definitely embracing VSD technology and for the most part understanding that the higher investment offers long-term advantages in terms of return on investment (ROI) and low total cost of ownership (TCO). Atlas Copco has over the years developed various tools to calculate and simulate these savings to help educate our customers in this regard. We are also investing in a great deal of training and development of our team so that we can effectively demonstrate the advantages and savings of VSD technology to our customers. While we still face a few challenges in some of our neighbouring countries, I believe we are making great progress here too through the development and support of our channel partners to assist them in selling the value proposition of our VSD air compressor range.

It has certainly been a few very busy months at Compressor Technique and the third quarter is expected to get even busier as we take the necessary steps to continue to grow our business and reach even greater heights. But more about this in my next communiqué. Speaking of steps, I would like to leave you with this fitting quote by Joe Girard which I have rephrased slightly: “(If) the elevator to success is out of order, you’ll have to use the stairs, one step at a time.”

Take care out there.

Warm regards.

Pieter.

South Africa Compressor Technique