Goodyear's footprint is the most comprehensive of all tyre manufacturers on the continent, with Namibia currently having the strongest footprint of the three main sub-Saharan countries, including 17 retail branches, six on-sites mining operations, three warehouses and one inbound store. Angola heads up six retail branches, two warehouses, while Botswana has eight retail branches, six on-sites and one warehouse.
These are countries and cultures so diverse - and some so volatile - that each requires focused attention in order to satisfy product requirements and nurture the market. For this reason, Goodyear has strategically grouped its sub-Saharan customers into clusters, based mostly on their proximity to one another, managed by a dedicated team and led by a Cluster Director, with the head office based in Windhoek.
The African customers closest - and in many ways most similar - to the South African market, are those in the South West African cluster of Namibia, Angola and Botswana. The team is led by Rolf RÃ¶hrmuller (Director Trentyre Namibia) and includes regional managers Carel van der Merwe (Angola), Balang Ookeditse Balang (Botswana) and David Phuthego (Botswana), finance managers Taps Maikokera (Botswana) and Jeff Luck (Namibia), and area sales managers Gerrie Barnard, Piet Lourens, Eugene Walters and Trevor Britten.
"Of the three countries, Angola offers Goodyear the biggest growth opportunity at present, and with a population of 18.5 million, the potential market is double that of Namibia or Botswana," RÃ¶hrmuller explained.
"Trentyre Angola recently opened two new retail branches, in Luanda and Huambo, and are also looking into the viability of a retread factory for commercial tyres. But the biggest challenge in Angola remains that of corporate governance - it is very important to us that business is conducted in an ethical way, because Goodyear strives to lead with integrity."
RÃ¶hrmuller said the key drive in Namibia was, similarly, for Goodyear to secure reputable third party agents, especially in the north which holds a major portion of the population. With three branches in the north, they not established a presence in the smaller outer lying towns.
"We definitely foresee further potentional to grow the Namibian market, with our 'Operation Nam Consumer' and 'Operation Nam Commercial' programmes bearing fruit," he added saying. "Our marketing programmes in Namibia are aligned with Goodyear's message of Safety Together, driving us to participate in safety campaigns and work with government in improving road safety in our country."
It was mentioned that in Botswana, Goodyear's drive is to strengthen relationships with agents and independents to build share market.
"This year we are rebuilding our premises in Gaborone, which burnt down last year, and will open in August, with the retread factory behind the store.
From the mountainous kingdom of Swaziland right up to Kenya on the east coast, from the sands of Namibia up DRC and Congo on the west - Goodyear tyres are rolling across sub-Saharan Africa.