Service is the new business

Joelson Costa Rodrigues knows every nut and bolt of the massive machines in his care – or his ‘children’, as he tenderly calls them. In a corner of the warehouse covering several thousand square meters, the 25-year-old changes loose tires, adjusts faulty regulators, inspects oils chains and checks headlights. He is a maintenance engineer at KION Brazil and works in the warehouse of French-headquartered home improvement and gardening retailer, Leroy Merlin, in São Bernardo do Campo. At the distribution center for Greater São Paulo, there are 42 STILL rental trucks in use. His work falls under the rental truck service concept: company-trained KION technicians are permanently based at customer sites and keep the rental fleet in top condition. Thanks to this systematic preventive action, hardly any of the machinery ever stands idle due to major repair work. Spare parts are fitted at scheduled times and customers benefit from increased reliability. And it saves them time and money.

In the context of the economic crisis in Brazil, many business owners are wondering whether it’s worth investing thousands of reais in buying a new truck – or whether it would be better to rent the same vehicle with maintenance included. “I can replace the entire rental fleet every 36 months, so I’ve always got new machines in operation,” comments operation manager Eduardo Ferreira de Souza, who looks after 14 rental customers for Linde and STILL. KION now has more than 2,600 rental trucks in Brazil, with almost one third of the company’s revenue coming from rentals. Ferreira de Souza goes on to explain: “For a time, Leroy Merlin had to get by with fewer trucks due to the crisis. That wasn’t a problem. In addition, we waived the annual price adjustment for this customer, as the machines spent fewer hours in operation due to the downturn.”

"I can replace the entire rental fleet every 36 months, so I’ve always got new trucks in operation."

Eduardo Ferreira de Souza

Operation Manager

Brazil’s difficult economic situation has brought about a whole new set of challenges. Sales curves are becoming unpredictable, favorable external financing from sources such as the Brazilian development bank, BNDES, are gradually drying up. KION’s new financing service for Brazil is plugging the gap. “Customers now negotiate loans with our partner banks as if they were negotiating directly with KION,” explains Kareen Ratton, business development manager at KION Latin America. “The deal is done directly in the factory and under very attractive terms.”

Leroy Merlin didn’t need any loans but José Manuel da Costa, who had been operating STILL forklift and warehouse trucks for years in the São Bernardo dos Campos warehouse, needed to cut costs. During the crisis, the company decided to offer the Linde brand exclusively in all 39 businesses along with STILL.

“It simplifies our administration since we are negotiating uniform rental prices, are making use of the same after-sales services and moving our engineers around between the individual businesses that have no problems and have no need for training,” explained da Costa. Joelson Costa Rodrigues pricks up his ears at this. It would be his ultimate dream to continue looking after his ‘children’ at Leroy Merlin, but in his hometown of Bahia instead of São Paulo.


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