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Sector specialists ‘key to right shoe for the job’

Published: 18th Apr 2017
Author: Tony Dickson - S&V Editor

From left – Desmond Tilly – mining and construction sector specialist; Derick Else – coastal manufacturing specialist; Mathew Shepherd – inland manufacturing sector specialist; Handré Botha – agriculture and retail sector specialist.

Pinetown (SA) – BBF Safety Group launched a new customer liaison team concept in January.
Dubbed sector specialists, the new team has consultants available for each major industrial sector – mining, agriculture, manufacturing, state owned enterprises and construction. The focus is on intensive knowledge transfer, innovation, efficiency and safety. 
“We’re responding to a very definite gap in the market,” said Ndlela Mazibuko, group sales manager of BBF. “We’ve seen that when products are returned to us, it’s because incorrect advice led to the wrong shoe for the wrong job. We intend to change that, improving safety records and saving our clients money in the process.” 
“Knowledge gets lost along the value chain,” said Peter Gerbrands, group marketing manager. “Procurement and health and safety officers are well informed, but often not experts on footwear. It’s specifically here that we aim to assist our clients.”
The sector specialists are tasked to educate, train and assist procurement departments, health and safety officers and SHEQ managers, as well as gather industry insights in order to better inform and drive product innovation. In this way answers to local industry challenges will be found and continue to be developed by BBF, rather than buyers looking abroad for solutions.  “Our focus is and always has been to stimulate local manufacturing instead of imports,” said Mazibuko.  
The initiative was developed informally over time, with some of BBF’s brands involved in creating specific products for companies, such as Consul Glass, as well as tandem projects with Eskom and Transnet.

Lebogang Mokwele – state owned enterprises sector specialist.

“Information should be a two-way street,” said Gerbands. “If we don’t have a solution, if our product offering is not sufficient, over time we will create one. Co-development towards a specific need, this is the real value of our service.” 
The sector specialists will not be tasked with making sales, instead focusing on education. Their duties will include facilitating training on ways to avoid both under-specification and overspending, insights on how to save budget by buying the right shoes, and providing knowledge on health and safety for their wearers (training they may not receive from employers).
“Currently, when you look at many of the international products, all they have to offer is price,” said Silvio Ceriani, CEO, BBF Safety Group. “Our aim is to provide much more; a service that improves safety and reduces overall spend due to specialised, individual service.”
The sector specialist initiative supports SA government’s objectives to drive local procurement, as well as their mandate for state-owned enterprises to work through small and medium enterprises. 
©2017 S&V Publications
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