Ruben de Meijer about his role as General Manager at Vermeer West Africa.
“Doing business in West Africa means that you never know what your day will look like. You start with a certain schedule for a week and often after half a day this whole schedule changed again.” A few years ago, Ruben de Meijer, General Manager at Vermeer West Africa, discovered that Vermeer machines are perfectly suitable for the West African market. Not only because they are designed to do the tough work, but even more because they are the most profitable solution for customers operating in the region. He became inspired to start his own dealership in this beautiful area. Read this article to learn more about Vermeer West Africa and its product offerings.
Solutions for emerging markets De Meijer used to be employed by Vermeer Corporation as a Regional Manager. It was in 2013 that he travelled to West Africa on a regular basis to develop business in this for Vermeer unexplored area. During his visits and given the macro-economic factors as population growth, urbanization and growth of the middle class, De Meijer soon became convinced that Vermeer machines were the most profitable solution for emerging West African markets of surface mining, utility installation and organic waste recycling. He started as an independent Vermeer equipment distributor in 2016 accordingly.
Not only business opportunities were what De Meijer attracted to West Africa, but the whole region with its culture really fascinates him. He explains: “I think everyone who visits or lives in West Africa, has a kind of love-hate relationship with it. Even the people who were born and raised here. You never know what a day will look like, which really appeals to me as no day is ever the same. You start with a certain schedule for a week and often after half a day this whole schedule can be changed again. The kick that comes with it when things are back on track is very big, but sometimes it would be easy if things go as planned.”
The role of General Manager
As General Manager of Vermeer West Africa, De Meijer is involved in the daily operation of the company. “I am responsible for the commercial tasks in our company, so I am the first point of contact for many (future) customers. Of course, we have several teams in our company that deal with Administration, Human Resource Management, After Sales Support, Procurement and Logistics. I am in direct contact with these teams every day to discuss ongoing topics.”
What he likes best in his dynamic job role? “I am a commercial person by nature, so for me bringing in an order and executing it successfully is the most beautiful thing there is!” he says.
Vermeer Corporation: a multinational with family values
With regards to the cooperation between Vermeer Corporation and his company, De Meijer explains: “There is a very close cooperation between Vermeer Corporation (the factory) and Vermeer West Africa (the dealer). It really works in my favor that I operated as a Regional Manager for Vermeer Corporation for several years. This experience helps me to quickly know how to approach different situations. “
Vermeer Corporation is a multinational company, but still with family values. “Clearly, at the end of the day we all want that our customers are having great successes with our machines. We love to see that they are making so much profit because they are using the right equipment. With support from Vermeer Corporation, we have all the tools we need to make customers successful.”
Continuing on success and achievements, De Meijer tells us that he is proud of the fact that Vermeer West Africa has won several awards in the few years that the dealership exists. These were prizes that we obtained in competition for Vermeer distributors worldwide. De Meijer continues: “However, the part that I am even more proud of, is the fact that our staff develops their personal lives in a great way. Because they are employed by us, they are able to improve their private situation in the long term, so that there is a promising future ahead for their children and even for their grandchildren.”
In the main target markets (Mining, Utility Installation and Organic Waste) Vermeer offers a broad product range. “The type of machine that is popular differs per country. Our Vermeer Terrain Levelers for example are very popular in Guinea-Conakry where precision surface mining has a huge potential. Ghana on the other hand is a country where we have sold more Horizontal Directional Drills (HDD) for the installation of telecom, water and electricity underground.”
With the growing middle class in West Africa, there will be an increasing need to build underground networks. Vermeer machines in the category 'Utility Installation', such as trenchers and HDD machines are particularly suited for this purpose.“In addition, we are also seeing more and more smaller projects in West Africa for the recycling of organic waste to create energy out of biomass, but also for the generation of electricity. The combination of a growing middle class comes with a growing amount of waste. I expect that in both the long and the short term this becomes a rising market for us with our grinders and chippers.
De Meijer concludes: “Obviously, my ultimate goal is to have many more of our machines working in many more countries. But above all, the most important thing for me is to be able to offer existing customers the right service to improve their profitability.” Great goals, we say!
Vermeer. Equipped To Do More.