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Voltex gets engaged!


Voltex gets engaged! Editorial – Roland Douglas Production – Hal Hutchison If you ‘Engage’ with Voltex before the end of May you could win a share of R1 million worth of prizes! We spoke to Voltex group marketing manager, Jannie Louw, to find out about the Engage Campaign and the continued success of southern Africa’s largest electrical distributor.

In February, the government announced that R827 billion was in place and ready to invest in the country’s infrastructure projects over the next three years. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan stated that in the past three years, R642 billion had been spent on infrastructure. With new projects being scheduled all the time, opportunities have presented themselves for more than just a handful of companies to reap the rewards of these massive investments. With new infrastructure you obviously need new electrical systems throughout; without this your new infrastructure will never even make it from a planner’s imagination to the design sheets on the table. The country’s leading electrical distributor is Voltex, whose ever- growing presence in South Africa has made it recognisable in all sectors of the market. Its most recent programme, the ‘Engage’ campaign, is bringing the entire supply chain closer together.


IndustrySA recently spoke to Voltex marketing manager Jannie Louw, to find out more about the company’s success, history, plans for the future and the aims of the Engage Programme. “Voltex has been in business for 45 years, but around 24 years ago we consolidated a lot of minor wholesale firms into Voltex, as a group. Since then we have expanded nationally and are now the largest electrical distributor in Southern Africa. “There are 53 branches in the country that sell into trade distributors, wholesalers and the general public. We have a number of specialist divisions, including Voltex Lighting, Voltex LSis, Cabstrut, Waco, Versalec Cables, and Atlas Cable Supplies who all contribute to the Voltex business” explains Mr Louw. “We are a supplier business trading in the electrical industry. Our new product area, where growth will come from, is energy efficiency.”


Mr Louw explains that through 2012 the company was growing its outreach programme and now the immediate task will be rebranding the entire branch network to bring all locations under one single identity. “Over the last 20 years, our wholesale branches have continued to trade under the names they had when they were bought. However, they are now all being converted to Voltex branches and the whole company is being rebranded as a single entity,” says Mr Louw. In South Africa, retail sales is one area that has been most affected by the global economic downturn. The country’s strong financial systems have protected many industries and sectors, and the government’s continuing investment in large-scale infrastructure has eased the pressure for some markets. Despite this, some retailers have reported falling sales, with customers preferring to shop online for a

cheaper alternative. Fortunately for Voltex, that has not been the case. The company has improved services and is working on close communication with all stakeholders to ensure continued growth is realised. “Despite the economic climate, we are hanging in there and doing all right,” says Mr Louw. “There has been a massive drive with customer service and brand awareness and we are currently working hard on our Engage campaign.”


ENGAGE PROGRAMME In February Voltex announced it was to launch the Engage Campaign, a programme designed to maximise and reinforce relationships with customers and suppliers. The campaign comes about after Voltex identified major changes happening throughout the electrical industry and decided that new channels of communication were required to keep all parties updated. The Engage campaign will run until May this year and will see Voltex inviting its customers to ‘engage’ with them on many levels – through social media, e-mail, SMS and in store. “Lucky customers who take up our offer to connect with us as silver, gold or platinum status customers make themselves eligible for R1 million worth of prizes,” says Mr Louw. To become a silver status customer, simply make a purchase in store at a Voltex branch. To take gold status, make a purchase in store and sign up for the online newsletter and social media feeds. To achieve platinum status, make a purchase, sign up for the newsletter, engage on social media and create an account. After taking these easy steps, you will be in with a chance to win a share of the fantastic prize. “This campaign is about getting all our suppliers and all our customers to work closer together, with our staff working in between, helping both sides of the market,” says Mr Louw. “It has involved different communication activities such as breakfast runs, product specials and customer evenings with that R1 million worth of prizes being handed out to customers and staff over the next three months.” Mr Louw also suggests that the programme has practical benefits, “It is an exercise in PR, getting customers directly involved with suppliers to improve product knowledge and implement product training. It also helps both sides understand about availability of stock.” The first month of the campaign has yielded excellent results and the company is looking forward to seeing further good feedback in the coming weeks. “There are a lot of encouraging comments coming through and we hope we will see results on the bottom line in the next few months. The positive reaction from suppliers and customers has been overwhelming,” says Mr Louw.




Cabstrut, a division of the Voltex group, is involved with supplying cable support systems. Voltex Lighting, another division, is closely involved with supply of light fittings for the power stations. Voltex LSis is involved with circuit breakers and switch gear so the whole business participates in the energy industry.”


“Where we will expand over the next year will be with energy efficiency” A SIZEABLE ORGANISATION As mentioned, Voltex is now the largest electrical distributor in southern Africa. To service the industry effectively, the company needs a vast workforce. “We have around 2 200 people across the country. Voltex is part of the Bidvest Group, one of the largest companies in South Africa,” says Mr Louw. “We have a lot of long-serving employees. There are continual training programmes and advancement of staff. We also recruit from all sectors of society. This is an on-going process.” The workforce has to be large to look after the 30 000 account holders and over 800 suppliers that Voltex works with on a daily basis. “There are over 80 Voltex sites or offices complementing the 53 branches in the country and every major electrical contractor in the country is a client of ours,” states Mr Louw. “Our product range is vast and varied but copper, cable, wire, switches and sockets, and lamps are always popular. We supply to the power stations - especially with low voltage equipment and infrastructure materials.


In the not-so-distant future, Voltex plans to continue with an aggressive growth strategy outlined by group managing director Stanley Green, who said in the Voltex Engage Powered Up blog: “We must create a new market space that is uncontested. We must make our competitors absolutely irrelevant while still achieving highly profitable growth.” The next 12 months will see expansion predominantly in the market for energy efficient products. Electrical products across the board can become more energy efficient and Voltex now offers a range of efficiency products including: energy saving lamps, led lamps, led floodlights, retrofit and t5 luminaires, rechargeable led lanterns, rechargeable led torches, air conditioners, hand dryers, motion sensors, induction geysers and stoves. “Where we will expand over the next year will be with energy efficiency, getting involved with energy efficient products, as electrical capacity and cost is a major problem in SA,” says Mr Louw. The company will also look to continue developing its service offering which is playing a larger role than ever before. While the sale of products remains Voltex’s core business, the company offers first class service, especially with design. “We offer a lot of services, one of the main ones being design,” says Mr Louw. “Lighting design, energy efficient design and other fittings happen continually. Voltex does design work for all types of infrastructure – we’re not just suppliers.” It is clear that Voltex is now the industry’s leading electrical and lighting stockist and this can be put, in part, down to a carefully considered growth strategy, a knowledgeable and efficient workforce, and innovative marketing campaigns such as the Engage Programme. The decision to pursue growth with energy efficient products and optimal customer service is one that will undoubtedly see success as the company enters a modern market with many opportunities.


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