BUILDING: Purchase Or Rent-To-Buy Options
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THERE has been an upsurge in building projects in the Western Cape over the past few years and with this in mind, coupled with its rationale to expand its footprint nationally, SA French took a decision to open an office in the Western Cape in January 2008.
This coincided with a decision by the Manitowoc Crane Group to terminate its existing sub-distribution agreement in the Western Cape in September 2007. SA French was subsequently offered the exclusive distribution rights for Potain in the Western Cape, says Warwick van Breda, operations director at SA French.
Van Breda says the company’s core strategy has been to provide customers with a quality service. “This means that we stock a substantial fleet of our products for rental to the local market. In addition, we are also able to provide our customers with the option to purchase the products on either a rent-to-buy scenario or as an outright purchase.”
“Our available range includes top slewing Potain tower cranes as well a new-generation hydraulic self erecting Potain tower crane; Merlo telescopic handlers; Merlo self-loading truck mixers; 1- and 1.5-ton Torgar personnel hoists and 1.5-, 2- and 2.5-ton Torgar materials hoists and working platforms,” van Breda says.
“All units are either new or less than two years old, to ensure reliability and continuity of operation for our customers. If one considers that in general the average age of tower cranes in the Western Cape at that stage was 15 years, the benefits of bringing in such a young fleet are substantial,” van Breda says.
He points out that the company has also invested time and money in sourcing top-notch personnel to run the facility and operate the equipment. “We have a very strong and experienced team of 18 people who are all passionate about our brands. This includes a dedicated operator for each item of plant hired out as well as two teams of four members each on the service side.”
To date the biggest demand in the rental fleet has been for the Potain self-erecting cranes while the Potain topless cranes top the list of desirable items for sale to end users. “We have sold two of these cranes to date and we currently have four models of cranes in stock for interested parties,” van Breda says.
The cranes allocated to the rental fleet are high specification and can be used alongside customers’ own cranes in a supplementary mode. “Since the economic downturn there has been an understandable tightening of belts and whereas customers were happy to invest in their own equipment before, they are looking to the rental route due to uncertainty as to the utilisation of the plant in the years to follow.”
“We are comfortable working with customers to devise the best combination of options for their particular needs and budgets and see the relationships as long term, rather than just project based,” he adds.
The company currently has a Potain MCT68 out on hire to a 20 month contract for two residential building projects for Gossard and Harding in Camps Bay and delivered two Potain MC 85B’s to site at the end of February.
Van Breda says the company trains both its own staff as well as the operational staff of its customers, to the highest CETA standards. “We have our own accredited training centre and we have three trainers who travel to our Cape Town office to train our staff and customers on a regular basis on all the machines that we own and sell.”
“In a short space of time we have found a niche for ourselves in Cape Town. It operates anywhere between Mossel Bay in the east to Namibia in the west,” van Breda says.
“Add to this the fact that SA French is the only registered lifting machinery entity (LME) working on tower cranes and hoists in the Western Cape, and it equates to a very positive outlook for us going forward,” van Breda says.
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