At Tecfluid we are on celebration. We have been distributing our products in South Africa for more than 20 years thanks to our collaboration with C & F Technologies. One of the pillars of our company is precisely, to establish a lasting relationship with our customers and distributors based on trust and collaboration. Our South African distributor is a good example of this.
Today we speak with one of its founders, Mr. John Gill, an engineer who has been in the instrumentation industry for over 40 years and who created C & F Technologies more than two decades ago along with Mr. Abilio Vieira.
THE PRINCIPLE OF A GREAT COLLABORATION
Why did you decide to work with Tecfluid 20 years ago? Was it the first time you worked with a Spanish supplier?
Having worked with Fischer & Porter for 15 years before starting C & F Technologies with a work colleague, I became aware of how similar the Tecfluid flow products were and how well they fitted in with my own experience and expertise. We had previously worked with Fischer & Porter’s Spanish subsidiary in Madrid, and I had visited them on two occasions, so working with a Spanish company was not entirely alien to me.
Did you find any difficulties in the market when introducing Tecfluid products? If yes, how did you solve them?
Tecfluid products had been sold in South Africa previous to our involvement, but only in a small way, largely I think because no one had seen their potential, or had the experience and knowledge of the market to properly promote them, that’s where our experience came in very handy and put us on the road to a successful business collaboration.
How were the first reactions of your clients regarding Tecfluid products?
It’s never easy getting a new product or brand into the market, particularly when one is a fledgling company with high hopes but few resources. Customers like to standardize if possible, and stick with what they know, but we did get some support from one or two of our old customers who were prepared to give Tecfluid products a try.
Which is your preferred Tecfluid product?
The variable area flowmeters as a whole come to mind since they are readily adaptable to a lot of applications for the measurement of both liquids and gases. That’s why we like to keep good stock levels across the whole range of these products, as well as the various parts to modify them to suit different application requirements.
In our market we find that delivery is very important and can make the difference between making a sale or not, so we carry as much stock as we can of these bread and butter items. I have this belief that service and delivery are often more important than price with many of our customers. Where we don’t have stock, and need it in a hurry, Tecfluid are very often able to assist with an improved delivery – although we try not to make a habit of “urgent” requests.
Which Tecfluid products have more demand among your clients?
Certainly the SC250 is a good seller as it seems to be priced right, and we do quite well with the plastic and glass variable area flowmeters like the 6000 and 2000 series. I guess you could call those our base-line products. Variable area flowmeters may not be “state of the art” but they are fairly simple, easy to repair, and still offer a fairly low-cost of measurement.
What do you appreciate the most about Tecfluid service and products?
In general the deliveries are excellent – sometimes almost unbelievable – and we get tremendous support from all the Tecfluid staff that we deal with, both those that we deal with directly and those that are part of the production process. We only get the high service and support that we do if everyone plays a part in the process – even the man who does the packing is an important part of that process.
You are specialists in instrumentation for the mining industry, which products are more demanded in this field?
We know the mining industry and mineral beneficiation process quite well since that is where I spent many years as an Instrument Engineer before going into the sales field. Having hands-on experience in a particular industry always gives you an edge because you can speak the same language and understand the sort of problems that Engineers and Technicians have to resolve. The mining industry can make use of just about every type of Tecfluid product to a greater or lesser degree.
Which are your main types of clients? From which industries do they come from?
We deal with just about every type of industry, from mining, food processing, power generation, steel, pulp and paper, as well as many universities.
EVOLUTION OF TECFLUID
What do you think about the evolution of Tecfluid in the last 20 years? Which were the implications of this evolution for C&F Technologies?
It has been good to see the company grow, and in our own way to think that we have contributed to that growth, not just in terms of sales as a distributor, but also in our commitment to Tecfluid and the constant feedback and communication that we have with the company. I like to think that we are all part of the same team and that our concerns and comments are meant for the greater good of the company as a whole – and not as criticism.
Which aspects do you think could be improved concerning our company and products?
Well, the service and support is so good that it’s difficult to see how you can improve that, but yes, there are product concerns on occasions, but I guess there is always the trade-off between quality and price, although I personally think that quality and durability are more important than price. Price might get you the first order, but quality and durability will hopefully get you repeat business, which is more important in the longer term.
Which do you think are the main challenges for the instrumentation industry players in your country?
That’s a difficult one as there are so many factors that affect business in South Africa, not the least being our dismal economy and lack of investment. If the economy isn’t growing then nor will business in general, but at the same time the government expects business to create jobs when there isn’t the economic momentum to sustain any job growth.
Then we have the problem of being able to get qualified and experienced technical staff, which is made more difficult by the fact that it probably takes about 2-years to get someone reasonably familiar with the product lines that we offer. For a small company that’s quite an investment and one that usually doesn’t pay dividends.
Could you please share with us any anecdote that happened during the last 20 years of business collaboration with Tecfluid?
I’m not sure if one would call it an anecdote, but I can recall in the very early days asking Mr Picazo if Tecfluid could assist with extended payment terms at a time when money was very tight and our currency was going up and down like a Yo-Yo. Without too much of a thought, Mr Picazo extended our payment terms – which was saying a lot for someone who had been let down previously by another company here in South Africa. How was he to know that we were going to be any different – it was quite a leap of faith on his part and it certainly gained our loyalty and commitment to Tecfluid.
The C & F Technologies team: from left to right Chris Sebakelwang, Abilio Vieira, John Gill, Yuri Gill and Vishaym Sukhnandan.
We thank John for his willingness to make this interview and his comments so positive.
We look forward to be able to count on C & F as one of our main customers for many years to come!