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Interviews Machinery

On the Case in the GCC

CBNME looks at a famous US brand that has gone both global and local in the GCC

Case has come a long way from its Rus Belt origins in Racine, Wisconsin. Since its founding as J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company in 142 (2017 marks its 175th anniversary), the famous eagle has endured fire, war and economic decline and today is a famous US name that is part of the CNH Industrial capital goods powerhouse, which includes other brands such as Iveco and New Holland.

This month’s ConExpo is good opportunity to catch up with Franco Invernizzi, regional manager CE Middle East who has been an instrumental figure in raising Case’s presence in the region. The past half-decade has seen the company focus on improving its reach in the Gulf, from entering into a partnership with Roots Group in Saudi Arabia in 2012 to most recently securing a distribution deal with International Equipment & Contracting Co (IECC) in Oman.

“CASE has always maintained a presence in the important MENA marketplace, marketing and supporting our full range of construction equipment through a comprehensive network of distributors,” begins Invernizzi. “Our focus on providing excellence to our customers in all aspects of their dealings with the brand has and always will be of critical importance to us.”

Serving a vast market, where contractors are often working in remote locations, demands an investment into real estate for companies with serious ambitions of growing their market share. Invernizzi explains Case has concentrated on expanding its own physical distribution presence to provide better coverage across the territory.

“During the last year, we have further invested in the region, growing our team in the Middle East and moving into larger office facilities in DAFZA in Dubai,” he says. “In 2016, we also opened a new dedicated parts warehouse in Jebel Ali, which now serves as the main parts hub for the region. Our market share in the region is growing today and we are accelerating our efforts to ensure this growth continues strongly in the future.”

He adds that the company is also beginning to feel the benefit of the development of its dealer network.

“CASE and our dealers work as a partnership to deliver the best solutions to our customers in the marketplace.” he says. “This approach is delivering real results for our customers. This process is continuous as we strive to keep enhancing the local solutions offered to our customers across the region. Without a strong distribution network even the best products can fail, so the CASE network strives to be best in class in supporting all of the after sales needs for the customers across the region.

He adds: “Our product offering is complemented by our services, and we are introducing maintenance packages, retail financing, and telematics to better fit to the business needs of our customers in the Middle East region.”

Case’s rise in the region’s inventories has coincided with an economically turbulent period in the GCC. The effects of the global downturn that was sparked almost a decade ago has been compounded by a prolonged period of low oil prices. With the price gently rising, but short of the highs of before, the construction industry and those that provide equipment to it are still under pressure. Signs of recovery are still months away, he explains.

“Today we can say the market has started to stabilise, in line with the relative stability in oil prices,” he says. “With the current global geo-political situation, continuing regional security concerns and the new oil price band of between $50 and $60 per barrel the recovery signs are likely to be seen during the latter part of 2017 at best. We believe the total market sizes to be generally in line with those of 2016.”

The Saudi Arabian market has arguably been hit the hardest but then it hardest to fall. With billions promised to improve the country’s infrastructure and regenerate its cities, the construction equipment manufacturers rushed in but the market has stalled over the past 18 months. The general consensus is that the number of awards will slow even further from $30 billion to $27 billion in 2017 but could be bottoming out.

“As with all manufacturers, we have been significantly affected by the downturn in the size of the marketplace,” he says of the Kingdom’s current situation. “In 2017, we look forward to seeing the stability return to the marketplace and hopefully see some growth in our opportunities. As in all countries, we will be working with our distribution to capitalise on any opportunities there are.”

Beyond Saudi Arabia, there are pockets of strong demand for equipment. Particularly in the UAE and Qatar as they respectively build towards the Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022. Invernizzi feels Case is in a strong position to take advantage of any opportunities that may come its way.

“We have a full range of equipment suitable for the MENA construction industry and we are fully prepared for what the market will do,” he comments. “We have a flexible approach to the market and can react quickly to market changes. Today we have a healthy stock of equipment in the MENA marketplace that will allow us to meet the needs of this market.

“CASE offers a full product line up into the marketplace that suits the needs of the challenging MENA marketplace,” he continues.  “We have a full range of compact equipment. Our range of backhoe loaders suits the market needs perfectly – the CASE 570T 4×4 tractor backhoe loader – as the entry level model – provides a highly versatile and cost effective site solution. Our CASE 580T – as a mid-range- offers enhanced operator comforts and slightly higher productivity, and the 695ST 4×4 machine tops the range offering maximum productivity and versatility.”

Case has worked on providing a balance of technology and value to customers, particularly those who own smaller volumes of plant and fleet. Invernizzi says that too helps Case be well-positioned despite ongoing volatility in the GCC’s economic outlook.

“We believe that there is a balance to providing the right value proposition to the marketplace. This does not mean the lowest cost, but providing a solution that will ensure the customer can achieve the necessary levels of production throughout the expected life of the asset. All of this in tough market conditions that we face in the MENA region.

“The CASE 570T is a great example of our approach. It has been specifically designed and engineered to match the requirements of customers (as has its 1107DX compactor) in the region who look for a reliable and performing machine, and a fast return on their investment,” he continues. “This model shares the DNA of the long lineage of CASE backhoe loaders, built on the company’s long history of industry firsts which include the world’s first factory-built tractor loader backhoe introduced in 1957. More than 600,000 units later, CASE backhoe loaders are synonymous with performance, high lifting capacity, best digging depth, and great breakout forces.

He describes Case’s heavy line range of equipment as second to none and believes its crawler excavators from 13 to 80t can cover all of the needs of the construction sector.

“Engineered and manufactured in Japan, these machines embrace the latest Japanese technology to provide a highly efficient, productive and easy to operate machine. The Wheeled Loading Shovel offering for the Middle East provides machines up to 5cum bucket capacity. Our most popular machines, the 1021F and 821F perfectly suit the main market needs and offer high productivity levels, ensuring maximum output for the customers. The CASE 885B Grader, with 14ft moldboard is a highly productive and efficient grading solution, maximising output on infrastructure projects.”

Talk of infrastructure, leads Invernizzi to discuss the company’s expanding range of equipment solutions for road building. These robust and reliable machines are able to operate in the toughest conditions, and at the right cost of ownership, he adds.

“The CASE B Series motor graders have been increasingly successful in the region and are acknowledged for their ability to work in all environments, guaranteeing high productivity. Their fuel-efficient, turbocharged FPT engine delivers operating speeds of up to 44 km/h,” he explains. “The front A-frame drawbar provides outstanding stability, while the heavy duty boxed frame design increases the life of the components. Thanks to the multi-radius design, the B Series grades move more material with less fuel and lower power absorption. Daily maintenance can be done in a matter of minutes thanks to the ground-level access to the checkpoints.”

Continuing his tour of Case’s infrastructure ranges he argues Case’s M Series dozers, deliver “best-in-class” drawbar pull and are built strong to perform in harsh environments. They deliver massive power in every condition to maximise productivity – and this performance comes in an easy-to-service and comfortable package.  CASE´s offering also includes new products specifically designed and engineered to match the requirements of its customers in this region. Just to mention a couple would be our CASE 570T backhoe loader and CASE 1107DX compactor.

For the roller compactor segment, CASE offers the reliable performance and excellent productivity of its soil compactor line-up, which he reveals will be soon expanded with the introduction of the new CASE 1107 EX vibratory soil compactor.

“This renewed model is taking productivity and fuel efficiency to higher levels, thanks to the S8000 engine designed by FTP Industrial (part of CNH Industrial), which has built a strong reputation for performance, reliability and low fuel consumption. The robust design and world-class components of the 1107 EX ensure high levels of reliability and extended operating life, even in the most extreme conditions. With best-in-class serviceability, the CASE 1107 EX compactor reduces downtime and operating costs, while resulting in greater productivity and profitability.”

While it has concentrated on the value end of the market for some of its larger equipment, it has also spotted an opportunity for smaller, compact equipment that can be utilised by a number of sectors as well as construction companies. It joins Bobcat, another well-known but foreign-owned US brand, in realising the GCC is primed to understand the benefit of smaller, versatile machines that can be deployed in a number of roles.

“With regards to skidsteer loaders, we are currently the second largest manufacturer globally and we have a full range of machines which deliver great performance and best in class access for routine maintenance tasks – ensuring maximum availability of our customers’ asset,” he says.

“We have also launched in the MENA markets the new C Series of mini excavators ranging from 1.8t to 3.7t (CASE CX17C, CX18C, CX26C and CX37C). The timing of this launch enables us to compete in this rapidly growing sector in the market, supporting the landscaping and urban maintenance market sectors. The new C Series raises the bar, offering better performance, a rich array of features, and even greater comfort and safety – all contributing to outstanding productivity.”

With an already varied range ready to be bolstered by the new machines, Invernizzi is looking beyond ConExpo and the year ahead.

“Our main focus for the year in the MENA region will be growing the CASE business and delivering excellence in the customer relationships even further.”

Dipping into the market
Invernizzi gives the low down of on the 570T backhoe

The CASE 570T runs a turbocharged, four-cylinder FPT Industrial S8000 Series engine that delivers a superior performance, high torque and best-in-class fuel economy. The S-shaped boom has been designed for premium digging and lifting performance, while its heavy-duty structure ensures strength and durability. The CASE 570T reaches deeper than any other backhoe loader in this segment: up to 5.58 metres with the Extendahoe dipper version.

Customers looking for maximum flexibility can count on the lifting hook welded to the bucket linkage when they need the rear arm to lift and handle suspended objects, a unique feature by Case. The front axle is designed to handle heavy-duty applications even in extreme conditions. This highly productive package comes with superior comfort: the largest cab in the industry is ergonomically designed to provide a comfortable workstation with excellent all round visibility. The easy serviceability maximizes uptime and productivity, while contributing to the low costs of operation.

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