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t all began way back in September 2001, when N.S. Bachana, General Manager, Security Equipment Division (Marketing), visited the Bhopal Branch while I was training the Branch personnel on BaaN implementation. Out of the blue, Bachana asked me whether I would like to go abroad for a long assignment. Without adding anything further, he left the room. I was still in a state of disbelief when he returned. “Take your time,?he went on “and let me know.?He then briefed me about my trip to Kenya. I was always willing to take on a challenging assignment, and I also got the go-ahead from my family.
Finally, on 1 August, 2002, I left for Kenya. Due to some miscommunication, there was no one to pick me up at the airport. I could not contact anyone at the office, as it was very early in the morning. Some time later when I telephoned the Kenya office, I found that they were completely unaware of my arrival. Nevertheless, they told me they would send someone to pick me up. In about half an hour a driver turned up to take me to the office of Copy Cat Ltd., Godrej’s authorised dealer in Kenya, where I had the privilege of meeting Rajoo Patel, Chairman, Copy Cat Ltd. A man of few words, he summed up my mission in Kenya: “Your stay and work over here should benefit both Godrej and Copy Cat.?/font>
Although Copy Cat is very popular and well known in Kenya, Godrej is just one of the brands they are dealing with. For many customers it was not the brand image of Godrej that was important; they were buying the product because it was associated with Copy Cat! My first step, therefore, was to create a brand image for Godrej, so that along with the dealer we could produce a synergic effect. I began by training the sales staff, then I started going out into the field with them to meet customers and slowly built up an image for Godrej.
While training of sales personnel became a regular feature, I was given the privilege of training eight Branch Managers of Gestetner Ltd., a sister concern of Copy Cat Ltd. Subsequently I visited their branches. Some of the sales people had not even heard of Godrej products. I had to start from scratch, telling them about our Company, the various Divisions, the quality of our products, our uncompromising values, etc. The response was excellent. Godrej, Kenya, has sold four Godrej Fire-Resisting Filing Cabinets, one Rhino Safe, three Safire Safes, one Coffer and two Fire-Resisting Centiguard Safes (FR 720 Safes) through the eight Gestetner branches, located some distance away from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The quantity may appear small to readers, but this led to an important development: it meant that our products were displayed in their showrooms for the first time.
There were more firsts to follow. For the first time a Credit Society has installed a Godrej Class II Strong Door with Grille Gate. All the Society’s earlier strong doors were of some other make. Also, two customers have purchased our Air Ventilator, with fan and cage for their strongrooms. A security agency firm, which had budgeted only for a Strong Door, revised their budget to include our Class II Emergency Door with Grille Gate. Almost all the sales people of Copy Cat (including those who do not handle Security Equipment products) have a working knowledge of Godrej Security Equipment products, and they help generate inquiries for the same.
It is important to note that Copy Cat was dealing with Godrej as well as another brand of Security Equipment products. Recently, Rajoo Patel announced that the Copy Cat management has taken a policy decision to standardise with Godrej for its Security Equipment products. While suggesting the need for Godrej to build its brand image in Kenya, as most of the established banks in Kenya have not patronised Godrej products, he added: “Godrej is as good as Chubb and far superior to Japanese safes and safes of other makes.?This is a major achievement for Godrej as we now have double the market share for our products.
Thanks to the initiative of Neelam Pal, one of the Directors of Copy Cat who had successfully planned and executed an exhibition of our products, the involvement of Jack de Souza, the General Manager and Director of Gestetner Ltd., the encouragement of Rajoo Patel and the cooperation of the Godrej management, we now have a competent advertising agency to create a campaign for our products. We have displayed a number of our products in the ad with the message: “Is your safe Godrej safe??/font>
The success of this assignment has encouraged Godrej to further their business prospects in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Egypt as well. God willing, we shall meet with the same success in these countries.
Uganda - The Land Locked From Every Side
he Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country, bordered by Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east, Tanzania in the south, Rwanda in the south-east and Congo in the west. Uganda is a plateau with small hills and valleys and extensive savannah plains. The entire country lies 900 miles above sea level, sloping from south to north.
The region receives abundant rainfall and is rich in tillable land. The vegetation is diverse, thanks to the different microclimates in the country. The monsoons arrive mainly between March and May and during October and November.
Uganda won its independence from Great Britain on 9 October, 1962. Its capital city is Kampala. The official language is English. The other principal languages are Ateso, Luganda, Luo, Lusoga, Runyankole-Rukiga, Runyoro-Rutoro and Swahili. The Ugandan shilling is the local currency issued in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency one can bring into the country. The current rate of exchange is U.S. $1 = 2,000 Uganda shillings.
A certificate of inoculation against Yellow Fever is mandatory while entering the country. Uganda does not have a state religion. Christians in Uganda include Pentecostals, Orthodox (all Protestant Christians) and Catholics. Islam and the Baha’i faith and other religions are also practised.
V.S. Ramesh, Security Equipment Division (Marketing), and I were on a business trip to Uganda from 10th to 13th September, 2003. Copy Cat Uganda Ltd. is our authorised dealer. The Chairman, Vishal Patel, operates from Tanzania (Business Machines Tanzania Limited, Tanzania, is also our authorised dealer in Tanzania). We visited some of our prospective customers and our competitors along with the local sales representative, K. Venkatesan, a former employee of Godrej & Boyce, Chennai Branch. Vishal Patel and his General Manager, R. Kirubakaran, joined us on 11th September.
Training on Security Equipment products was given to all the sales personnel. There were six participants, including N.P. Singh, the General Manager of Copy Cat Uganda Ltd. We were satisfied when one of our competitors agreed to display and sell our FR (Fire-Resisting) safes and withdraw the existing brand of similar products from his showroom.