When integration works

A year ago, Dematic’s employees moved into the Brazilian headquarters of KION South America. Read on to find out what inspiring changes and new paths resulted from this move.

São Paulo is a huge metropolis with a population of twelve million. In contrast, Indaiatuba with its 235,000 inhabitants seems almost peaceful. “I can see a park and trees when I leave the house in the morning,” says Jair Vasconcelos, who works in sales at Dematic. He still sounds a little incredulous – he only saw concrete in São Paulo. As part of Dematic’s integration into the KION Group, he and almost all other Dematic employees moved from the metropolis to KION Latin America’s headquarters in Indaiatuba, around a hundred kilometers away. Only a few colleagues still commute to work from São Paulo. Vasconcelos’ commute, on the other hand, is now a mere seven minutes, a huge improvement on the several hours it used to take in the chaotic traffic of the metropolis.

We complement each other perfectly

Everyone is based in the same building next to the production hall in Indaiatuba. In total, around a dozen employees moved here from Dematic in São Paulo. “I’m very pleased with this merger,” says Adriano Zambelli, Dematic’s plant manager. “The KION Group already has a fully developed internal structure and a proven supply chain in place,” he adds. Vasconcelos particularly values that he now has two supervisors who can support him, and that he can call upon the help of the KION Group’s finance department.

“It’s only in the past year that we’ve learned how much we didn’t know about logistics,” says Frank Bender, CEO of KION Latin America, and adds: “I’m sure the staff at Dematic will say the same about their knowledge of forklift trucks. To put it another way, we complement each other perfectly.” In any case, automation is one of his passions, says Bender. That is one of the reasons why he is excited about the possibilities that the portfolio of automation specialist Dematic offers the KION Group: “I’m very happy with this merger, both professionally and personally.”

Frank Bender, CEO KION South America

"Both sides have learned a lot from each other."

Customer solutions from a single source

The integration is not yet fully complete, however. Over the course of the last year, every new employee had to get to grips with new processes and software used by the KION Group. “Previously, we used highly specialized software that was tailor-made for our work,” Zambelli says. “Now we have to adapt and develop some things to meet our requirements.” The health insurance fund that covers the employees is also different, as are the food vouchers. “We still have separate servers,” Zambelli says with a smile. “If I want to pass on information to my colleagues, I sometimes have to put it on a USB stick and carry it three meters.”

But these are minor concerns compared to the new possibilities for sales and cooperation. “We’ve become more familiar with the products of the other KION brand companies and can focus on offering joint solutions to our customers,” says Marcio Lopes, Director of Business Development at Dematic. The merger has also paved the way for administrative efficiencies, especially where positions would otherwise be covered by two people.

Marcio Lopes, Director of Business Development at Dematic

“We have been very lucky to join a company that has the same customer base as us, and that also has a long-term vision.”

The first joint projects are under way

Daily contact makes it easier to present appropriate offerings to customers directly. “As soon as we receive an inquiry, even if it is for a single truck, the employees at Dematic know that there is a sales opportunity for them too,” CEO Bender explains. All projects have since become joint endeavors, and in the first year since the merger all larger customers in Brazil have been visited together. It has been a success – the first joint projects are under way, for example with Souza Cruz, Brazil’s largest tobacco company. And 2017 has been Dematic’s best financial year in Brazil so far. Lopes has good reason to be satisfied: “We have been very lucky to join a company that has the same customer base as us, and that also has a long-term vision.”

Given a second life

Caution, fragile!