Newly-appointed GM at Rand Air, Karel Verstraeten

Rand Air celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023 as one of South Africa’s foremost industrial equipment rental specialists. Coming off two consecutive record years, the business is also a kingpin within the global Atlas Copco specialty rental division.   Newly-appointed GM at Rand Air, Karel Verstraeten, describes the company’s success story in South Africa as nothing short of spectacular. 

“The brand is well-known and respected for its rental fleet of world-class quality, reliable and efficient machines, matched by equally excellent service solutions. Rand Air has cornered the local rental market,” notes Karel but quickly adds that there is no time for complacency as there is always more exciting business out there. 

Tremendous business potential

Karel, who has an engineering background, joined Atlas Copco’s Portable Energy Division in 2011 before being employed as PC Business Controller in Sweden followed by the position of Regional Business Controller for Power Technique SEA and Oceania in Singapore. Leaving Bangkok as Business Line Manager, South-East Asia.

Karel has come to South African shores with a vision to expand the Rand Air rental experience to customers in the rest of Africa. ”We are setting our sights on this continent because we believe strongly that it holds tremendous business potential for us.”

Feasibility study

Rand Air’s Africa strategy is being rolled out in phases with the first phase already underway. Karel explains that they are essentially conducting a feasibility study in several African countries, looking at business activities, type and size of markets, trends etc. 

“Once we receive this report, a Business Development Manager will step in to do a deep dive into each country to determine where the biggest business potential lies,” elaborates Karel. “We may choose to focus on one country or even a group of countries; it really all depends on the business viability within the different territories.” 

Replacing ERP software

The sustainable success of Rand Air’s African expansion strategy will hinge, to a large extent, on having the right processes and procedures in place. Atlas Copco is in the process of replacing its ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software system with Spark with phase one focussing on Salesforce for Sales and Service Departments. The timing of this new SAP driven system could not have been better as it will serve to standardise best practices and improve administrative functions throughout the company. 

“By improving and streamlining our systems, we will be able to mirror the outstanding service ethic and best-in-class product delivery that we are renowned for in South Africa on the rest of the continent,” affirms Karel.

Looking at product rental solutions for Africa, Karel says the focus will be on their flagship oil-free compressors, where Rand Air leads the local market. In addition to large compressors, the company is looking to offer containerised QAC TwinPower generators. With two fully-loaded QAC500kVa generators housed inside an easy to transport 20-foot container, TwinPower offers a reliable and flexible prime and critical standby power solution for the African continent.                      

Pumps and steam boilers

On the local front, Rand Air will scale up its focus on pumps and steam boilers to meet the growing market demand for these rental solutions. The launch of steam boilers by Rand Air’s Durban Depot to customers across the territory is imminent.

Karel concludes, “We are determined to work hard towards mirroring and even exceeding our success in South Africa by always bringing our A-game. If we are to be smart about this, we will make sure that we are flexible and tailor our solutions to meet each country, market segment and customer’s unique requirements”. He adds that this flexibility will also extend to the brand. “Rand Air enjoys well-established brand presence in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. However, in some countries the Atlas Copco brand is better known and here we will consider dual branding.”

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