Taking the company to the next level Macsteel’s decision to amalgamate its tube and pipes department with the fluid control division has paid off taking the company to the next level. Pipes, Pumps & Valves Africa spoke to Rowan Blomquist, the Macsteel Business Unit Executive who heads up the newly combined units and who oversaw the change management.
Covid-19 introduced major uncertainty into the business environment. Around the world, companies found themselves under pressure as the pandemic led to new quarantine and lockdown policies. Amidst all of the uncertainty, Macsteel knew one thing for sure – it was going to forge ahead with its amalgamation decision no matter the novel coronavirus. “It was a decision that boded us well,” says Blomquist. “The strategy to combine the two business units was aimed at improving efficiency and saving cost which is exactly what was required of the company when Covid-19 happened. It was a decision that we took in 2019 when no-one was expecting a pandemic. In March when South Africa went into lockdown we opted to keep to our original strategy and forged ahead with the amalgamation and changes planned.” Says Blomquist, it was a process that accelerated through 2020 as the change management team found themselves in a position to introduce the necessary changes easier because of the circumstances created by Covid-19. “The new efficiencies we introduced and the new overall approach played a big role in keeping the company stable and allowing us to keep a firm footing in the market this year.” According to Blomquist, the transition has undoubtedly improved the customer’s experience. “Where in the past customers dealt with the Fluid Control Unit for all their valves and process control equipment needs and with a completely different department for pipes and fittings, they now have a single point of contact. This has been widely welcomed in the market as it allows them a far more efficient process. It just makes business sense to align our fluid control operation with pipes rather than maintaining the unit within the steel business.” Blomquist said this amalgamation as part of the bigger changes introduced by Macsteel that was reinventing itself. “Nowadays companies have to constantly up their game or face being left behind. It is about becoming more customer-centric,” explains Blomquist. “At heart, this is about being there for our customers. We are going from being purely a supplier to a company that can identify with the clients’ needs before the interaction even starts. It is about precipitating what the market requires ahead of time and is a far more proactive approach.” Considering that Covid-19 created so much business
Pipes, Pumps and Valves Africa - Nov/Dec 2020
disruption around the world, leaving many businesses struggling, increasing operating efficiency in a challenging economic time makes sense. Customers make the business According to Blomquist, it is all about delivering a key focused business that considers the customer throughout. “It is a customer-centric approach that did require an enhanced platform for a consolidated product offering. That is what we have delivered this year and we want to take that forward into 2021.” He said the ease of doing business with the company had greatly improved and this could be seen in the positive market reaction to the merger of the units. “The customers are benefitting because our service levels have improved. We can offer a complete basket of products in a much easier way than ever before.” He said it was not just about the ease of doing business, but also about doing the right type of business at present. “We are reinventing the way that Macsteel does business – this is not just selling a product for the sake of it – but rather finding a bespoke solution for our customers to ensure their businesses thrive.” For Blomquist, the changes that have been introduced have played a big role in keeping customers happy during a very trying year. “Our entire focus is on making our business a centralized distribution type-business that meets customers’ requirements as effectively and efficiently as possible,” he says. This approach has also brought certainty and reliability to their operations. “With a centralized purchasing team in place, we have been able to mitigate risk and get stock in place before clients need it. A lot of effort went into creating the current environment and Blomquist admits it was not always easy.” “2020 has been a tough year all-round, but we are positive that 2021 will see some recovery taking place. We are extremely optimistic as the signs of an uptick are already there. In the past year, many of the project and capex work was shelved, but we believe it will come back in the next few months.” Macsteel Fluid Control, +27 (0) 11 383 4000, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.macsteel.co.za