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Episode 23: KTR South Africa in focus | KTR Systems


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Julia Ures: Hello, nice to have you here and welcome back to our podcast “In Sight KTR“. Today we‘ll go on an exciting journey, we are traveling to South Africa, at least via headset and camera. We are going to take a closer look at KTR South Africa to introduce the KTR subsidiary there to you and I have a guest who will help me and will answer all my questions about it. It‘s Gavin Doran, General Manager at KTR South Africa.

Gavin Doran: Hi.

Julia Ures: Hi. Welcome Gavin and thank you for joining me in our podcast today.

Gavin Doran: That‘s an absolute pleasure.

Julia Ures: Gavin, can you tell us a bit more about KTR South Africa, when was it founded? How many employees do you have?

Gavin Doran: Sure. KTR South Africa was founded in May of 2014. We currently are only two employees, myself and Isabel Pretorius. We rent a premises and we are located in Johannesburg, the city of gold.

Julia Ures: And now of course I would also like to get to know you as a person as well. How did you end up at KTR. What was your journey?

Gavin Doran: Well, prior to KTR I've only had one industry that I worked in and that was the pump industry. So for 32 years I worked in the pump industry and 25 of those years at one company called Sulzer Pumps. And this opportunity to join KTR just, I can say, fell in my lap. It was something totally unexpected ,but it happened at the right time in the right place and I was ready for it. So I feel really blessed to be part of this wonderful family of KTR, because it's really a place where we work hard but boy do we have a lot of fun. It's really a great place to work.

Julia Ures: That sounds very good. So I'm sitting here in the middle of Germany right now South Africa is quite far away. How different is it doing business in Africa to Europe, just do you think the great distance matters?

Gavin Doran: Yeah, you know, it's a different. It’s 11,000 kilometers away, so we are sitting on the other side of the globe. I don't think people really realize how big Africa is when you just look at it. I always use the comparison that the United States of America can fit in the African continent three times. So it's a huge chunk of land, but most of the business happens down in the southern part of  Africa.

My main experience obviously is with business in Africa. I have dealt with European businesses over the years but the African type of business is very informal in comparison to the European type of business , where it's really the interpersonal relationships. People are very friendly, you know there's no.. we rarely really ever wear a tie. It's really a great place to work in, because the weather is just too hot, to wear a tie is not a practical thing at all. So yeah it‘s a long way from a lot of the business centers in the world and it's different to doing business in Europe it’s just I think you have to be an African understand how to do business in Africa. I think that is the point I'm trying to make.

Julia Ures: Okay I understand. Would you say that these differences are the reason that KTR needs an own subsidiary in South Africa?

Gavin Doran: Yes I think so. The distance is one of them I think to try and handle it from Europe is tough. I know KTR France looks after the northern parts of Africa, some of the french-speaking countries. But also in terms of having an extra company down here in South Africa that sells couplings and a expert company like KTR was very very important and the only way for KTR to get themselves into the market was to open a subsidiary. So I'm very fortunate to be the one who is leading the charge down here with the great support of the headquarters in Germany.

Julia Ures: Our listeners and our viewers from “In Sight KTR“ know that KTR products are used in several different industries. What are key industries in South Africa?

Gavin Doran: Well I think as most people know we have a lot of mining industry here in South Africa. Obviously with all the minerals that we have we are a mineral resource country, rich country. But there are quite a few OEMs, not as many as we would like there to be, but our main areas of industry that we focus on are pumps and compressors. Obviously coming from my background of pumps that for me is a big focus. We are big in the hydraulics industry with our key subsidiary, our key distributor, excuse me, which is a company called “HAW“ which is part of the high-tech “Bosch Rexroth Group“. And in also drive technology we have all the gearbox people here, and in another thing that we're just breaking into, another big focus for us is the brakes market. The brakes market is really looking better for us and we are going to pursue that going forward.

Julia Ures: So Gavin, what projects or success stories do you remember most fondly based in South Africa?

Gavin Doran: I think the ones that I remember most fondly are the ones getting into the pump industry. It was quite tough to get in, because there are very well established suppliers in the pump industry. So yes applying to my old industry was really a great fun thing for me to do and then also to start learning new products. I was not a coupling person when I started with the company, but understanding the products and seeing what is available from the KTR, a basket of supplies, allowed us to tackle some very interesting projects on the mining side. Where we replaced old couplings which have been running on mills for many many years. And then also now we're looking at all the winder breaks on the mines and in our KTR 360° magazine, which was, the issue came out in december, there's a whole article about South Africa and the brakes industry which I'm very, very proud of.

Julia Ures: Thank you for the story. As you know we try to answer as many questions as possible in up to 20 minutes and I would like to thank you for all your exciting questions that you have sent us via email to Please continue to do so and please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, so you don't miss out on the news on our podcast. And we received the next question for you Gavin. What is most fun for you working for KTR South Africa?

Gavin Doran: I think it's the people, the people that we work with. I just have never worked with such a willing bunch of people. The help is incredible. I mean just this morning I was talking to my colleague Isabel saying I'm not used to from where I come from, sending an enquiry across to your mothership on the other side of the world and within 10, 15 minutes you get everything back that you need, plus more. And they do it with a smile and it's really a pleasure to work like that. So I just think that the support that I get being so far away, I have all my other subsidiary managers who I can just contact them any time of the day, they of course help me along the way, but of course they are there to help me and have fun at the same time. So it's a great company to work with because you know that what you're going to ask for you're going to receive, you're going to get the answers that you need. They allow us to have the fun and that I appreciate. I mean our meetings that we have now on teams end up in such fun things to have you actually look forward to them. So yeah it's really a great experience, yeah.

Julia Ures: Sounds great, yes. We are slowly coming to an end for today. But I want to ask you: What lies ahead, what will be the future focus for KTR South Africa and maybe for yourself?

Gavin Doran: I think the focus has always been to really expand our footprint in South Africa itself, but then also up into sub-saharan Africa where most of the business takes place. So yeah I would really look at expanding from an office perspective, maybe getting one or two more people on board. But also it's exciting to have all the new products that are coming out of KTR. New products that are launched that we are looking at taking into the industry so for us it's… - really focus is to expand our footprint and to increase sales that's the biggest focus for us.

Julia Ures: That was already the last question for today. It was fun to talk to you Gavin. Thank you very much for joining me. And of course many thanks to you out there for watching and for listening to “In Sight KTR“. All the best and take care, we will see or hear us next time. Bye!

Gavin Doran: Thank you. Goodbye!

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