The backbone of that system is a widespread footprint of independent dealers around the country who sell and service Kubota machines. They have played a pivotal role in helping Smith Power build and maintain close relationships with customers and gain insights into how it can improve Kubota products and services to better meet customers’ needs.
Key to further growth of Kubota, says Van der Merwe, will be a strong focus on developing the existing dealer footprint and expanding into new territories in the region. “We will focus on developing the current dealer network, and then expand, if necessary, into new territories in southern Africa, targeting countries such as Zimbabwe and Botswana, where we see strong growth prospects,” he says.
Additionally, Van der Merwe targets to relook the current product line-up available to local customers. “We will look at what’s available currently and what we can bring in the future. This will be done in consultation with our dealers and customers,” he says.
Van der Merwe believes that all agricultural businesses are founded on three basic principles. “You have got to have a good parts business, a good technical support setup and good products. A combination or a good balance between these three legs is crucial to growing a business like Kubota SA in such a competitive marketplace. We will, therefore, pay attention to these basics, and then turn our focus on fixing problems when they pop up on the off-the-sale side of the business and try to increase our levels of service to our customers through our dealer network,” he says.
Having been in the agricultural equipment supply chain since the early 90’s, Van der Merwe brings a wealth of experience to Smith Power’s Kubota SA business. He started off as a salesman for Fiat Agri down in the Southern Cape, and worked his way up to become area manager and eventually regional manager for Fiat products in that area.
In 1996, he was promoted to become national product manager for New Holland South Africa, before taking up the national sales manager role for the brand around 2000. He was also tasked to bring Ford and Fiat together to build a new brand, New Holland. In this role, he was responsible for more than 150 dealers throughout South Africa, including large corporations such as AFGRI, SENWES, NWK and various other large cooperatives.
In 2005, he moved to the AIM Group, where his immediate task was to establish a Landini retail outlet in the Eastern Cape, a role he held until 2009 before he joined Barloworld Agri as national sales manager, mainly responsible for Massey Ferguson and Challenger brands. In this role, which he held until around 2013, He was also responsible to look after the top 300 Barloworld customers as Key Account manager until 2015.
After leaving Barloworld, Van der Merwe was appointed CEO of a company in George, mainly trading in second-hand retail products, a role he held until COVID-19 struck in early 2020. Before joining Smith Power this year, he owned his own consulting business, specialising in assisting farmers with mechanisation planning and fleet change plans.
Smith Power Equipment contact:
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© Press Release 2021