Prowalco, a level 3 compliant BBBEE company with its head offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, can be extremely proud of its rich and successful history, dating back to its origin in 1960. Since that time there has been an ongoing commitment and provision of outstanding service to the African fuel industry.
Core activities of Prowalco, led by CEO Pierre Zeeman, include the supply and maintenance of pumps and dispensers to the retail, commercial and mining sector. The enterprise is already firmly entrenched as the largest, most successful company of its kind on the continent. In South Africa alone, Prowalco services an estimated 70% of the market.
The Prowalco Pump and Dispenser (PDM) Division is a key provider of maintenance services to the African fuel industry with the largest and most sophisticated service infrastructure on the African continent. Operations cover South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Burundi and Kenya. The company is extremely versatile and is able to penetrate new markets within a short period.
“We will also now expand into the rest of Africa,” Zeeman confirms. “The method is to follow our larger clients into these areas because it would not be sustainable for us to go there alone if we don’t have a critical mass. It makes sense to go in on the back of a major client ensuring a critical mass and sustainability in a region. We are now investigating the possibility to expand into Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in the next 12 to 18 months.”
Prowalco is committed to being at the Forefront of the Forecourt. The mission is simple: to provide the oil industry with a one-stop, total solutions value proposition for Forecourt Asset Management via three core pillars:
Manufacture and installation of Liquid Fuel Dispensers and ancillary equipment (Prowalco Sales and Marketing)
Maintenance of all makes and models of Liquid Fuel Dispensers (Prowalco Pump and Dispenser Maintenance)
Facility management of refuelling facilities (Prowalco Asset Care)
Prowalco boasts an ISO9001:2008 accredited production facility, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“My philosophy is that I am not prepared to sell pumps into a market if I cannot offer a solid after sales service; where my customers can benefit from the low Total Cost of Ownership of our equipment,” says Zeeman.
“If we are not represented in a country ourselves, we partner with local agents who share our passion for service excellence. Our pumps are designed and built for the African environment; we focus on the existing infrastructure and our customers’ needs, when marketing our products into our target regions.”
Prowalco employs more than 100 skilled technicians in Southern Africa, to maintain all makes and models of Liquid Fuel Dispensers. Their technicians are rigorously trained through one of their training facilities and thereafter accredited by the relevant authority within the territory.
“Our employees are our biggest assets,” Zeeman states. “We are obsessive about skills development and have incentive schemes in place to ensure the best results and higher staff retention.”
In 2001, Prowalco created the Asset Care Division (PAC); this business unit manages the maintenance of all assets at our customers’ leased facilities, ranging from building maintenance to Pump and Tank and Signage. The division manages projects on behalf of their customers as well as routine and breakdown maintenance.
“We are undeniably service orientated; it’s not just about fixing a pump, it’s the entire experience,” Zeeman adds. “We are not perfect, but we strive to be.”
Prowalco’s maintenance offering is quite dynamic; they are capable in performing breakdown maintenance within set response times, as well as periodic servicing of equipment. Their maintenance packages cover monthly fixed rates, as well as ad-hoc per-job billing.
Beyond the maintenance sphere, Prowalco is proficient in assessing equipment to determine the useful life as are able to recommended corrective methods, be it reconditioning an existing unit or complete replacement.
“Since most of our customers operate 24 hours a day, we need to be geared up to meet their demands,” Zeeman notes.
Prowalco has a 24-hour call centre that is able to receive and despatch calls to all territories.
Their technicians are grouped by territory and managed by service managers. Internal branches are headed up by a branch manager.
All technicians are equipped with the relevant tools and stock to diagnose and repair a pump. Each technician van stock is automatically replenished once a stock item is used, ensuring critical stock is always available to limit down time.
“We do have competition in our market sector; however, our definite advantage is the fact that we have established our core business over the many decades in operation,” Zeeman says. “We have a sound structure and are process and system driven.”
Safety is the cornerstone of Prowalco’s operations, which shows impeccable safety record over the years. The company uses custom-designed service management systems and databases that enable management to closely monitor all aspects of operations.
Virtually all industries are trying to do better work while simultaneously reducing maintenance costs and comprehensive overhead bills in general, which is a Catch-22. It’s no different for Zeeman and Prowalco, but he does believe it can be efficiently and effectively implemented by continuous improvement process.
“Ask yourself every day ‘why I am doing what I am doing and can I do it more effectively?’” he remarks.
“We have to look at more innovative ways to look after equipment. Prowalco has developed electronics for its pumps, being launched in the second quarter of 2014, which is quite revolutionary in the market. We will be able to monitor and diagnose our equipment remotely, and carry out reconfiguration and master resets without setting foot onto the site. At the moment, if something goes wrong a technician must drive out to the site and report back on what has gone wrong. The electronics introduced into our new Icon range will have the software to provide self-diagnostics and self-calibration, which can be analysed remotely.”
Environmentally-friendly solutions are something Zeeman and Prowalco always have at the forefront of future strategies. Based on the company’s tremendous successes to date, the future looks very bright.