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Opportunity Knocking

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Opportunity Knocking

“FUSO is on a very clear and ambitious growth path,” says Ziyad Gaba, the new head of FUSO Trucks Southern Africa. We find out how he’s planning to achieve double-digit growth.

Gaba is a man who is all about opportunity. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand with a B.Com honours degree in marketing in 2004, he was given the opportunity to join the graduate trainee programme at (then) Daimler Chrysler South Africa. That’s when diesel began pumping through his veins!“Enrolling in that programme was the best decision I could have made.

I really love where I’ve ended up in the trucking game,” he explains. Gaba’s journey kicked off in the bus division where he was given the opportunity to rotate between the various business units. Eventually, he moved into the regional sales manager position where he was responsible for commercial vehicles, and, when the opportunity came to specialise, he moved into the vans division. In 2010, an opportunity presented itself for Gaba to join a different original equipment manufacturer (OEM), where he was exposed to the entire value chain of the light and medium commercial vehicle business. This was to put him in good stead for his return “home” to Mercedes-Benz South Africa as vans sales manager in 2012. Gaba’s journey with the FUSO brand began in 2014, when another opportunity presented itself for him to “stamp his mark on the brand”.“A bit of my heart was still with trucks. I looked at the challenges FUSO had and identified the potential for growth, so I joined as a sales manager,” he explains.

In July, the opportunity to head up the FUSO division presented itself … driving the brand forward and redefining its identity within the commercial vehicle and trucking industries of South Africa was an opportunity he was not prepared to pass up. Four fundamentals, says Gaba, will define the FUSO brand going forward: reliability, quality, value for money, and best service support.“These values were not necessarily lacking in the past, but we’ve done the research and engaged with customers and these are what they value most. We believe that we’ve made good progress within the South African market over the last three years, yet there is potential for us to do more, so we’ve embarked on a very clear growth strategy between now and 2020,” he explains. Gaba is aware that this growth is not going to be as a result of natural growth of the economy (he foresees two to three percent growth from about 2019, and similar numbers for the commercial vehicle industry). As such, Daimler Trucks and Buses has committed to specific investments.“Today we are lucky to have the back up of a very strong global player. In markets that are tough, very few OEMs are willing to invest. Daimler has, however, seen the development possibilities for South Africa and is willing to support us,” Gaba says.“I am investing in and expanding my team – not many companies are investing in people right now. We need the right people; this is crucial, and we need to improve the dedication to the FUSO brand. There are a lot more people‘talking FUSO’…”

This holds true from head office support to the dealer network – and it all boils down to supporting the customer.“We’ve got a clear ambition, in partnership with our dealer partners, to make sure we improve the focus on FUSO within the network and bring about dedication to the brand. Customer service is the most crucial aspect. How you support your customers determines your success. Yes, you also have to have the right product, but, more importantly, you have to have the right backup through a strong, sophisticated dealer network that you and your customer can rely on,” Gaba notes.

Talking of the right product, Gaba is pleased with the brand’s current trajectory – but has even more in store.“Over the last three years, we’ve shown good growth and have been able to meet our objectives over the period.However, we want to become a more serious player in the industry and achieve double-digit market share. We also want to double the revenue from the service and parts division,” he notes.

Despite the market being under pressure (and likely to stay this way for at least the next two years, Gaba reckons), the FUSO team is still eyeing opportunities in segments in which the brand plays.

“The new products we’ve recently introduced bear testimony to this: there has been good order intake on the FJ26.280C construction vehicle launched in May, and we expect it to continue as we fill gaps in our product offering.

“In the fourth quarter, customers can look forward to another FUSO vehicle that will disrupt the market. We will introduce three or four different products in the middle of the second quarter of 2018, including 4x2 and 6x2 rigids,” Gaba divulges.

Undoubtedly, the brand is on the right track. This much is clear when Gaba hints at an upcoming milestone with a significant fleet customer – although he’s not giving away any details just yet…

Gaba concludes: “We believe there are pockets of positivity in the economy and we need to tap into those to grow. We like to look at it the glass as half full ... although things are tough, if we do not invest now, we will not see the growth we want from the FUSO brand in the future.”Now that’s an opportunity worth grabbing and running with.