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Scania’s ‘gentle giant’

When I recently had a face-to-face interview with Scania South Africa’s newly-appointed Managing Director, Raimo Lehtiö, his soft-spoken approach on the one hand, but his firm stance on solutions and achievement on the other, reminded me of a gentle giant. “Just call me Raimo,” he said and so we proceeded.

Raimo Lehtiö appears to characterise the very brand he has stood for for over the 15 years he’s been with Scania

Raimo Lehtiö, Scania SA’s new Managing Director.
Raimo Lehtiö, Scania SA’s new Managing Director.

He appears to characterise the very brand he has stood for for over the 15 years he’s been with Scania – consistent innovation plus a caring attitude for man and earth.

When asked about his mandate from Scania headquarters, his answer was simple: “To continue building on the good foundation already laid, namely, Scania SA’s strategy for total transport solutions in each of the various sectors like mining, construction, long haul, and timber.

”However, I aim to get really much closer to the customers and to make sure the Scania teams understand the best application of a particular vehicle for a particular customer. Taking the total transport solution strategy further, we are going to ensure our teams are focussed on vehicle applications. We’ll be training them up to be like a key accounts partner to our clients, knowing exactly the best suited application for a particular job. “Our teams are going to be trained to understand the best tipper application for a construction customer, while another is going to be well-versed in the mining application tipper.”

Raimo is comfortable that the focussed training and speciality training planned for the existing teams will provide them with fresh energy.

“I hope to motivate key sales and service employees throughout the entire Scania family, and to challenge each other on getting the top achievements. I trust this will make my teams feel very confident in what is probably going to remain a tough environment for the remainder of this and next year.”

Raimo added that he found SA to be one of the most interesting markets in his experience. “South Africa is a dichotomy of both a matured first-world transport environment, and at the same time very much a developing market. For instance, South Africa is mature in some areas, like now while the market is tougher, we are seeing almost exactly the same trade-in business model as in developed markets, similar rates, etc. “In other areas in the value chain some transport value-add elements are now in the emerging stage only.

“Naturally all the transport solution elements surrounding our actual vehicle products remain part of our total transport solution – finance and insurance, telematics and fleet management systems, to name just the basics. More sophisticated needs will be met with the top-end Scania solutions. Those newer customers needing to solve only some transport needs will receive a proper analysis and presented with Scania solutions by our teams across the whole southern African region,” he said.

Raimo’s Scania experience has taken him from Finland, through managing Russian operations building vehicles out of plants in Siberia and the Far East, taking full responsibility for regions like East Europe and Northern Asia, looking after China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, then back to Finland and the Baltic regions.

He says that his most important learning experience has been working in diverse developing regions

Using this experience he will encourage people to pursue an integrated united business goal. In mid-October, Scania SA held a special customer event at Gerotek, near Pretoria, over three days where over 400 people – including the sales and service representatives and customers from across the whole sub-Saharan region – came to see firsthand the many elements which make up Scania’s total transport solution approach.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa