Pole position: Howard Dale on Liugong-Dressta
Howard Dale explains how Dressta is capitalising on the opportunity presented by the resources and distribution network of its adoptive parent company LiuGong
Since Dressta’s acquisition by LiuGong in 2012, how has your working relationship developed?
The relationship has developed extremely well across all aspects of the business. First and foremost, this has come through investment into research and development: Dressta has been able to develop new models with the investment provided by LiuGong, and the first fruit of that investment was the new S-series compact crawler dozers that we launched earlier this year in North America.
The first new machines from Dressta for a number of years, the dozers are equipped with dual-path hydrostatic drive systems that transmit full power to both tracks in all conditions to ensure smooth speed changes, pivot turns and counter rotation — making each job safer and more operator friendly and ensuring optimised productivity and ease of operation with excellent precision.
The S-series range of compact dozers is ideal for the North American market, where demand for this size of machines is among the highest globally, together with LiuGong’s wheel loaders and excavators in Europe.
Dressta’s manufacturing capability is also benefitting from LiuGong’s investment. We’re putting in new processing equipment and manufacturing/assembly lines, and we’re working to introduce lines for LiuGong wheel loader and excavator at our factory in Poland. This is a big move and part of our plan to expand our industrial footprint so that Dressta’s Polish factory will be a base for sales of both LiuGong and Dressta products globally.
What were the expected and unexpected benefits arising from the acquisition?
We’ve enjoyed the benefit of the change in our cultural identity. We have grown to be a very culturally diverse team with people within the management structure from France, the UK, Turkey, China and Poland as well as from Australia and the United States. One anticipated benefit, which we’re now seeing along the lines of strengthening our business, is that we are entering new markets thanks to LiuGong’s global distribution reach.
We now benefit from regional hubs located in Singapore to serve Asia Pacific; in Liuzhou for the home domestic market; in Brazil for Latin America; and The Netherlands for Europe. These facilities allow us to put parts and, importantly, technical support services, closer to our customers and dealers.
How have Dressta’s Middle East customers gained from access to LiuGong’s network?
Dressta’s Middle East operation has benefitted in many ways, thanks particularly to LiuGong’s regional centre in Dubai. This 2,500m2 facility includes a parts distribution hub, so customers and dealers in the region now receive their parts faster. The hub also has teams for sales and dealer support, and technical capability for service and support and product training.
We have also been able to utilise LiuGong’s distribution reach to promote Dressta in new markets. Haffar Machine, our Iranian dealer, has been successful in selling and supporting LiuGong products for many years, establishing a strong customer base. Three years ago, we took the decision to also launch Dressta products in Iran in collaboration with Haffar, and we have since developed our presence in the quarry and mining sector. We’re now starting in the roads and highway sector.
How is investment into the facility in Poland relevant to customers in the Middle East?
We are developing our new range of crawler dozers in Poland which will be relevant to Africa and the Middle East, which are among the most important markets for Dressta globally. Currently our sales into Africa and the Middle East account for one third of our company revenue and we anticipate this important region will continue to play a strategically important role for the sales of Dressta equipment in the future.
Have any other changes been made to the operation of Dressta’s production facilities?
One of the recent developments has been the introduction of a System Applications Products (SAP) system in 2015, meaning we are now fully SAP-integrated across our planning, purchasing, sales forecasting, inventory management and parts business. We’ve also implemented changes in our manufacturing philosophy — transitioning from a build-for-stock model to a build-to-order model. This allows us to reduce delivery lead times and to place the right products with our dealers to meet the customer’s specific requirements.
Overall, these changes have significantly improved our materials planning and enabled us to make more accurate forecasts, in order to continuously improve our supply times.
What are currently the most successful products for Dressta in the region?
The most successful product for Dressta by volume has been our TD-25 mid-size crawler dozer, which is particularly popular for roads and highways, but also mining applications where, thanks to the two-speed drive system, our machines deliver fantastic traction. This means the TD-25 can fit a larger ripper than competitors and this gives our customers higher productivity and lower operating costs.
Because of the nature of our customers and their work in heavy-duty applications, Dressta is becoming popular around the world — not least because all of our machines are manufactured in strict concordance with our product values, which target productivity, durability, flexibility, and ease of maintenance.
Where do you see ongoing growth trends?
As the African continent continues to develop we’re seeing growth coming for construction equipment in various markets, everything from landfill to roads and highways through to mining. Interestingly, we’ve developed a strong presence in the sugar sector, including in Ethiopia, where we’ve supplied our TD-25 to clear land and for preparing plantations. The sugar block has to be incredibly level and the need to do that quickly and productively is very high on the agenda so Dressta machines have been an integral part of that plan to deliver a good result.
What else does Dressta have planned?
One of the important aspects of the Dressta business is how we service and support our customers — from ensuring the equipment is designed to suit their needs to backing that up in terms of the service and warranty.
Dressta products are supplied worldwide through a well-established network of independent distributors, so it’s about having dealers with the right competency — dealers that can support the product that we sell, and that have the service and parts infrastructure in place. As we continue to build our presence in the Middle East, Dressta is placing a significant emphasis on finding and selecting the right dealers to work with.
Howard Dale is chairman of LiuGong Dressta Machinery and VP of global sales. He has 20 years’ experience in the equipment business in Asia.