Family owned and run Namibia Lubricants (NAMLUB) of Windhoek, now into its second generation, is celebrating its 20th year as the official FUCHS distributor in that country. Established in 2003, the distributor has shown year-on-year growth ever since.
Due to its strong presence in the automotive, mining and general industrial segments, the distributor has allowed FUCHS LUBRICANTS SOUTHERN AFRICA to comfortably secure a 15% to 20% share of the Namibian market. “NAMLUB was the second export market ever for us,” notes Business Development manager Matthias Erhard. “It has grown steadily in terms of business, volume and turnover, so is quite an important partner for us.”
Namibia is a developing country with a mixed economy that is heavily dependent on the mining industry. It is the fourth-largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium. The mining sector accounts for 20% of GDP and the majority of exports. Other key industries are agriculture, fishing and tourism.
Looking at the broader southern African region, FUCHS Export Divisional manager Giles Cutter says the lubricant manufacturer has maintained a steady 15% to 20% market share in countries like Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Zambia. “We have established key markets in countries that do not have massive growth expectations like South Africa. Our in-country presence in southern Africa is to offer assistance and establish a strategic foothold for other areas.”
Cutter says this is mainly focused on East and West Africa, where FUCHS is aiming for a minimum 10% growth as part of its regional expansion strategy. “While we will grow from a low base when we consolidate our presence there, it is a region that offers tremendous potential.”
A key factor making NAMLUB the perfect partner for FUCHS is the roughly two-day-plus shipping time between the main Isando blending plant and warehouse in Isando, Johannesburg and Windhoek. The distributor itself has an extensive network of about seven depots that it deploys to service diverse customers and industries.
In terms of appointing distributors, Cutter explains that this depends on the country and the market. Traditionally, when FUCHS’ regional presence was still embryonic, it would locate a trustworthy local partner that it could grow with and support over the years. “It does take a long time, finding a company we can nurture and that will grow in tandem with our own expectations,” adds Cutter.
Prerequisites for distributorship include a significant local market penetration and preferably experience in the lubricants’ industry, although this is not mandatory. While distributors remain fully independent, FUCHS provides technical training, assists with advertising and marketing, and also conducts in-country and customer visits.
Commenting on the second-phase expansion of the Isando facility, Cutter says the main benefit will be the addition of loadcells and the capability for bulk filling, which will allow FUCHS to fulfil a once-off 3 000-litre order for major mining customers, for example.
As for the future, Erhard is convinced that the 20th anniversary is one of many more milestones to come in NAMLUB’s longstanding partnership with FUCHS. “It is a relationship that has been built up over a couple of decades now, and which reflects the loyalty, dedication, and hard work of the owners over the years,” he says.