Five minutes with: Suresh George, United Diesel

After a decade of healthy sales growth, Suresh George explains why United Diesel is anticipating a further boom in demand for Daewoo trucks among UAE customers

INTERVIEWS, PMV

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Although relatively young, the relationship between United Diesel and Daewoo in the UAE has been decidedly fruitful. Part of Dubai-based conglomerate Al Rostamani Group, United Diesel has been distributing and supporting the South Korean commercial vehicle manufacturer’s heavy-duty units since 2006. During this period, more than 3,000 Daewoo trucks have been sold in the UAE.

Suresh George, sales manager at United Diesel, says that Daewoo’s combination of quality and affordability has proven popular among customers in the Emirates.

“When it comes to the UAE market, Daewoo has several advantages,” he tells Construction Week. “Firstly, the manufacturer covers the entire spectrum of the heavy-duty segment, from 20 tonnes all the way up to 100t. These units have applications that relate directly to construction and transportation.

“Secondly, Daewoo trucks offer specifications equal to those of European and Japanese manufacturers, but at lower prices. With this in mind, customers are able to buy high-specification models at affordable prices; this is a unique selling proposition (USP) for United Diesel and Daewoo in the UAE.”

United Diesel’s aftersales capability is another less visible – but equally important – reason behind Daewoo’s UAE popularity.

George explains: “United Diesel’s aftersales facilities cover all of the emirates in the UAE. These include our main service centres in Al Quoz and Sharjah; spare parts facilities in Al Quoz, Awir, Sharjah, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Ras Al Khaimah; and mobile workshops that operate out of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“In fact, United Diesel’s five mobile workshops are probably its biggest strength when it comes to aftersales.

“Our aim is to visit customers and conduct servicing at their premises. We don’t want our clients to have to bring their trucks to our workshops as it takes up their valuable time. United Diesel can provide aftersales support for Daewoo units in remote places across the UAE,” he emphasises.

With these factors in mind, United Diesel has witnessed healthy sales figures for its Daewoo units during the past decade, and business remains strong.

“If you look at total UAE sales since 2006, more than 3,000 Daewoo trucks have been sold across the country – and that’s a relatively short amount of time,” George points out. “This demonstrates that local customers have confidence in Daewoo units.

“United Diesel has seen sales of Daewoo models rise consistently during the past 10 years. If you were to look at our figures for 2014 and 2015, you’d find that we sold between 200 and 250 Daewoo units per year,” he reveals.

That said, the low oil price has driven a downturn across the GCC’s construction and transport sectors, and this has negatively impacted the field of commercial vehicles.

“The market has slowed somewhat in 2016, so I wouldn’t use this year as a benchmark,” notes George. “Nevertheless, United Diesel has continued to maximise sales by focusing on 4x2 models. We are selling good numbers of Daewoo 4x2 tractor heads right now.”

The reason, according to George, is that Daewoo’s 4x2 units are well suited to container applications. For customers who want to haul containers of fixed loads, United Diesel’s offering makes sound financial sense.

“When it comes to container applications, you’re talking about fixed loads in the majority of cases,” he continues. “With this in mind, customers do not need trucks with extremely high specifications. Since the load is restricted at a particular level, to buy a [top-of-the-range model] from a European or Japanese manufacturer [would be a waste].

“UAE customers who purchase Daewoo 4x2 models for container applications can be sure that they are buying the right vehicle at the right price. ”

This focus on the right vehicle for the right application has served United Diesel well in terms of repeat business. The distributor’s sales growth has been driven by long-standing relationships with a number of the UAE’s largest transport operators.

“We focus on long-term client relationships,” says George. “[United Diesel’s] major customers include firms like Trashco, Bilal General Transport, and Mubarak & Sons General Transport. We try to work with the UAE’s biggest transporters.

“Repeat customers are our strength. They always buy from us because they know that we offer the best service. Our clients can forget about such factors; their staff members simply have to fill the tanks and drive the trucks – United Diesel takes care of the rest.”

Although 2016 hasn’t set any new sales records for the UAE’s commercial vehicles sector, George is confident that there will be a significant uptick in demand in the not-too-distant future.

“We expect a big boom, starting from the end of this year and lasting through to 2020,” he explains. “Increased demand will be driven by Expo 2020, Al Maktoum International Airport and Dubai South, and associated developments.

“We’re confident that lots of new projects will come online soon, which means increased demand for trucks with applications across the fields of construction and transport,” George concludes.

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PMV Middle East - May 2018

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