How RELIANZ and Caterpillar delivers unrivalled success to Colombia’s mining industry
As a company that promises to deliver the lowest cost per ton to mining companies through by providing leading mining equipment, RELIANZ has a clear goal to become the preferred supplier of Caterpillar solutions of choice in Colombia.
To achieve this ambition, it requires a strong level of strategic direction and leadership.
For RELIANZ, facing a broad portfolio of mining customers across Colombia, the key to becoming the preferred supplier of choice is broken down into a number of core strategic values.
The values of the business are: safety, integrity, excellence, reliability, adaptability and teamwork. These values are built upon a simple foundation of going above and beyond the customers expectation.
“We need to be offering more than mining products to our customers,” says Martin Briggs, President of RELIANZ, Colombia. “It has to be about more than just traditional loading and hauling tools, we need to deliver a full suite of services, product support and solutions for our customers here in Colombia.”
As President, Briggs can call upon a wealth of experience in the mining industry, having worked with Caterpillar dealers previously in Australia. In 2012 he took on the role of Vice President of GECOLSA, the largest distributor of Caterpillar equipment in Colombia and it was in 2015 that the company decided to centralise its mining services.
This is where RELIANZ was born, assuming the operation of the company’s mining division and becoming the largest distributor of Caterpillar products to the Colombian mining industry. Briggs also made the move, taking on the role of President and leading the journey to become far more customer centric across Colombia.
As the leading supplier of Caterpillar equipment, maintaining a strong collaborative relationship with their key supplier Caterpillar is crucial in order to be the supplier of choice.
Briggs recognises as much and notes that the relationship the two companies share is “seamless.”
“We maintain a very strong and open relationship with Caterpillar, they are an integral part of both our success and our commitment to the customer,” he says.
“Our customers see that. They recognise that through our partnership, they can expect the same high level of performance and service that they would expect from any Caterpillar dealer globally,”
“They also recognise that there is an alliance at play between ourselves, Caterpillar and the customer. All three components of this alliance have an obligation to each other to make the relationship a success.”
The relationship with a global leader like Caterpillar reinforces the ambition of RELIANZ to be a far more customer centric business. RELIANZ is guided by Caterpillar’s global strategy, but through its closeness to the Colombian mining market it can navigate any local challenges and develop a keen understanding of the particular market demands.
This in turn allows RELIANZ to be almost entirely customer driven, providing the best possible service to the customer because it recognises what the customer needs.
“It’s important to have dealers that are embedded in their territory,” says Briggs. “We have a long understanding of Colombia and working with local people, local solutions and how best to implement the global solutions into the local market.”
One such area in the mining industry that is changing and requires an agile understanding of, both on a global level and in Colombia, is technology.
Technology is redefining the mining industry, which in turn is redefining the mining customer. Historically, technologies such as hauling equipment has been implemented in a way that is driven purely by uptime; production at any cost.
But the mining industry is cyclical and while that has proven successful in the past, the changing market and challenges of sourcing and managing capital has changed the conversation significantly.
“To put it simply, the last five years leading up to 2016/17 has seen a retracting market. This has made customers rethink their approach to our solutions,” says Briggs.
“It’s now production at the lowest cost. It’s not just a change in mindset, it’s a change in maintenance strategy, in repair strategy and operating strategy.
“We as a deal have to recognise that those changes are happening, the reasons behind and we then must understand how we can adapt our business to meet those changing demands of the customer.”
This is where the company’s core strategy around human capital plays a crucial role. RELIANZ provides extensive onsite solutions to assist with maintenance and repair as well as operation of the Caterpillar technology.
Colombia is not isolated from the challenges of the global mining industry and one of those key challenges has and will continue to be the availability of skilled labour. RELIANZ places a great deal of investment into creating internal development training programs, training schools and continuously retraining its own employees.
This then “seeds” the labour pool as RELIANZ trains its customers in order to develop their skillsets and capabilities to operate technology and improve efficiency at its site.
“We strive to be the employer of choice,” says Briggs. “So, we do everything we can to offer job security, a safe working environment and creating a culture of drive and innovation. This doesn’t stop at our technical staff, right through the company we create a strong sense of unity and this goes out to the companies that we work with too.”
Safety, and creating a safe working environment, is one of the core values of RELIANZ. The company makes its approach to safety visible at all levels of its strategic planning process and ensures that safety is at the very forefront of the company culture.
2017 represented a key year for this as RELIANZ can proudly point to completing one full year with zero lost time injuries (LTIs). Briggs believes that the key to this success, has been the aligned company approach to safety.
“We drive a culture of safety right from the top down, whether that be meaning starting every meeting that we have with a safety share with the group or starting every shift with a tool-box talk. We always have safety at the front of everybody's mind,” he says.
“There are also regular cross-functional inspections into various and different work areas. To me this is essential, because a fresh set of eyes often picks out something that people have overlooked in their workplace.”
Briggs notes that this approach to safety is one of the key differentiators for the business as customers can recognise that it is a business with them, their families and their livelihoods at heart.
RELIANZ doesn’t simply want to be another company that has its safety processes in order, it wants to be the benchmark across Colombia.
This approach doesn’t end with safety. As a supplier to the mining industry, RELIANZ recognises and invests into corporate social responsibility programmes. From employing from the company’s area of influence, to investing in local schools and infrastructure, Briggs is proud of the role that RELIANZ plays in giving back to the community.
“We work in collaboration with our customers and work together to ensure that we are in alignment with regards to our community work,” he says. “Again, this shows that we are doing our very best to promote and foster best practice in a challenging industry. We support good mining, which develops trust from our customers.”
RELIANZ is only three years into this growth journey but it can already point to considerable successes that it has achieved along the way as proof that it is growing in the right direction.
It’s commitment to safety, human capital and CSR, has enabled RELIANZ to develop into a trusted business and one that customers prefer and actively seek out to work with, becoming the first Caterpillar dealer to be recognised as a certified ‘Best in Class’ Mining Dealer of the Future.
Despite this sustained growth, Briggs understands that it cannot rest on its laurels.
“We want to be the clear leader in the industry as well, but we also want to be recognized as one of the leading Caterpillar mining dealers globally,” he says. “We will continue to push the boundaries and better understand our customers' needs.
“Were people to ask where are the Caterpillar dealers that are delivering the most value to our customers, I want us to be in that top handful of dealers that are achieving just that.”
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