April 25, 2024

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Rand Air eyes the African continent for expanding its equipment rental footprint

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Rand Air celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023 as one of South Africa’s foremost industrial equipment rental specialists. Coming off two consecutive record years, the business is also a kingpin within the global Atlas Copco specialty rental division.   

Newly appointed GM at Rand Air, Karel Verstraeten, describes the company’s success story in South Africa as nothing short of spectacular.  “The brand is extremely well-known and respected for its rental fleet of world-class quality, reliable and efficient machines, matched by equally excellent service solutions. Rand Air has cornered the local rental market,” notes Karel but quickly adds that there is no time for complacency as there is always more exciting business out there.

Karel, who has an engineering background, joined Atlas Copco’s Portable Energy Division in 2011 before being employed as PC Business Controller in Sweden followed by the position of Regional Business Controller for Power Technique SEA and Oceania in Singapore. Leaving Bangkok as Business Line Manager, South-East Asia, Karel comes to South African shores with a vision to expand the Rand Air rental experience to customers in the rest of Africa. ”We are setting our sights on this continent because we believe strongly that it holds tremendous business potential for us.”

Rand Air’s Africa strategy is being rolled out in phases with the first phase already under way. Karel explains that they are essentially conducting a feasibility study in several African countries, looking at business activities, type and size of markets, trends, etc.

“Once we receive this report, a Business Development Manager will step in to do a deep dive into each country to determine where the biggest business potential lies,” elaborates Karel. “We may choose to focus on one country or even a group of countries; it really all depends on the business viability within the different territories.”

The sustainable success of Rand Air’s African expansion strategy will hinge to a large extent on having the right processes and procedures in place. Atlas Copco is in the process of replacing its ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software system with Spark with phase one focussing on Salesforce for Sales and Service Departments. The timing of this new SAP driven system could not have been better as it will serve to standardise best practices and improve administrative functions throughout the company. “By improving and streamlining our systems, we will be able to mirror the outstanding service ethic and best-in-class product delivery that we are renowned for in South Africa on the rest of the continent,” affirms Karel.

Looking at product rental solutions for Africa, Karel says the focus will be on their flagship oil-free compressors, where Rand Air leads the local market. In addition to large compressors, Karel says they are looking to offer the containerised QAC TwinPower generators. With two fully loaded QAC500kVa generators housed inside an easy to transport 20-foot container, TwinPower offers a reliable and flexible prime and critical standby power solution for the African continent.                      

On the local front, Rand Air will scale up its focus on pumps and steam boilers to meet the growing market demand for these rental solutions. The launch of steam boilers by Rand Air’s Durban Depot to customers across the territory is imminent.

With Rand Air’s next level success in South Africa, Karel says that it would be counterproductive to set the same bar for the rest of Africa right now. “We are however determined to work hard towards mirroring and even exceeding this success outside South Africa by always bringing our A-game. If we are to be smart about this, we will make sure that we are flexible and tailor our solutions to meet each country, market segment and customer’s unique requirements”. He adds that this flexibility will also extend to the brand. “Rand Air enjoys well-established brand presence in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. However, in some countries the Atlas Copco brand is better known and here we will consider dual branding.”

Karel wraps up: “By being able to give customers a truly outstanding customer experience, we will reach that next level and become and remain the foremost specialty rental equipment company across the African continent.”

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