DDL sets course for growth

August Winter, managing director DDL Equipment. August Winter, managing director DDL Equipment.

DDL Equipment, well known manufacturer and supplier of docking systems to South Africa’s materials handling market, has new owners. In an agreement announced in July last year, private equity investment company Helikaon Investments took 100% ownership of the company and installed a new management team to increase local sales and expand into countries abroad.

Helikaon Investments, a majority black-owned private equity investment company with wide experience of manufacturing and logistics, has placed its own people at DDL’s helm to oversee day-to-day operations and capital allocation.

DDL says it is widely recognised as having driven the development of professional docking in South Africa. In addition to locally manufactured dock-levelling and cold-chain dock sealing systems, it is the sole authorised distributor for two leading European door brands, Nergeco and Alpha.

Dominant for many years in the southern African market, the company has in recent years suffered from erosion of market share and a perception of declining flexibility. New managing director August Winter says that the initial focus of his management team is on stabilising relationships with existing customers.

“We have commissioned a new ERP system to provide a better overview of transactions and stock, and enable us to better communicate stock availability to the customer base,” Winter states.

“With that in place, we are now reorganising and expanding the service department, increasing staff levels and re-equipping with new tools, new vehicles and a stockholding of critical parts for quicker turnaround times. This represents a significant expansion and improvement of the old facility,” he adds.

“The next step will be to grow market share and expand exports into new markets throughout Africa and beyond. We already have steady sales into Mauritius, and we have just completed a large project for a mine in Botswana,” says Winter.

“A new sales director has been recruited and appointed to help achieve this.”

Winter continues that, within South Africa itself, DDL has a proven name and product range of very high quality. He said that this range would be expanded and supported with the improved service division, positioning the company to reclaim its position as market leader.

“The local economy is undergoing a change of focus from manufacturing to importing, thereby creating a whole new market in warehousing and distribution. It is our intention to dominate this market,” he says.

He pointed to other trends in South Africa that offer opportunities for industrial docking systems. Increasing electricity costs were forcing cold storage users to re-examine the efficiency of their environmental control, and users involved in maintaining the cold chain would seek the best possible sealing solutions, he says.

“Our big advantage is that we manufacture our sealing solutions locally, enabling quicker installation and a very much quicker service turnaround times than rival companies that import components from Europe and elsewhere,” says Winter.

“But we are not only focusing on cold chain applications, because a big section of the market has a requirement purely for docking solutions that can deliver the fastest possible loading and unloading times.”

“Therefore, we are going to expand the range of dock levellers to give the customer more options in terms of the specific designs that he can buy from us.”

“We have new offices, a new workshop and a new showroom, all situated in a new location central to one of Gauteng’s fastest growing warehousing hubs, and close to the airport and therefore customers countrywide.”

“I believe that DDL will enjoy an exciting future, beginning now and continuing into the longer term,” Winter concludes.

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