Wayne Hoiles is keen to point out what makes his company special. “From our chairman Stefan Fuchs down, we just focus on lubricants and nothing else,” the managing director says. “This sole concentration on a niche gives us a real point of difference. Some of our major competition over the years has been from firms that are really more energy or fuel companies, and lubricants are generally only one or 2% of their turnover.”
In addition to having a clearly defined specialisation, Fuchs Australia has benefited from the leadership stability that comes with having a long-established family business as a parent company. “We are very much focused on long-term, sustainable strategies. The family control means we don’t have a lot of change in management or strategy. It’s very consistent. We have been able to avoid making short-term decisions.”
Wayne Hoiles was well prepared for the role
Wayne moved into his managing director role after five years as CFO at the company and says this was an ideal preparation to lead Fuchs Australia. “It allowed me to understand the business, first from a financial perspective, then from an operational and sales perspective.”
His duties as CFO evolved and expanded during these years as he took on more of an operational and sales role, and was then given responsibility for managing the manufacturing arm of the company in Melbourne and taking on a major sales position. “It was a great learning curve,” Wayne reflects.
He also nominates Fuchs Australia’s capacity to leverage the extensive industry expertise of its German parent company as a unique selling point. “As cars have become more sophisticated and technology has increasingly played a part over the past 15 years, having that German technology in the products has given us the ability to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace,” Wayne explains.
If you’ve got the best team, it makes your job a whole lot easier; that’s for sure.
Fuchs continues to invest in research and development to ensure its product range remains best in class. Around 8% of the Fuchs Australia team, as well as other staff at the parent company, are solely focused on R&D activities. Wayne says this includes working closely with key OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).
“Australia will continue to reap the benefits of German technology as we build car products for the future,” Wayne says. “When new cars hit the Australian market, we’ve already got products ready to go. That is a key benefit of being part of Fuchs.”
Fuchs Lubricants Australasia has a strong sales team
Even the most high-quality product can flounder without a strong sales network in place, however, and Wayne says that getting the products in front of consumers has been very much a collective effort. “It’s very important to have a strong team, the best in the marketplace. We have a team that can get out there and really sell the benefits of the business and the brand.”
Sales is another area where Fuchs Australia has benefited from its approach of developing deep specialist expertise. “We operate in many markets in Australia and New Zealand, from agriculture to industrial, automotive, food manufacturing, and wind power. But each strategy we have is specifically focused on the particular marketplace. We effectively have six operating sales divisions, each with people who understand those specific markets and have strong relationships inside those marketplaces.”
Many of the sales staff can draw on a rich wealth of industry knowledge. “We have people with 25, 30 years of experience. They understand the marketplace and they can share best practices.” Wayne is a believer in the adage that ‘you’re only as good as your team’. “I think that’s absolutely correct. If you’ve got the best team, it makes your job a whole lot easier; that’s for sure.”
Committed to investing in Australia
In early 2018, Fuchs Australia will open a new manufacturing plant in Beresfield, New South Wales. Wayne says the plant has been some 10 years in the making. “It’s been a long-term exercise, identifying the issues with the existing site as well as the needs of the business to grow in the future. One of the positive things about the Fuchs group is that it ensures we are close to the customers. We believe in that, and Fuchs is committed to investing in Australia, which is a great positive statement for the Australian organisation.”
The construction of a large-scale plant goes against prevailing industry trends, Wayne says. While many other firms in the lubrication business are gravitating towards an import model, Fuchs Australia will double its current manufacturing capacity through the construction of the state-of-the-art facility. “It’s about investing for the future and allowing the business to continue to focus on future growth,” Wayne says.
“It’s been an awesome experience to get that plant over the line. The important thing is to deliver the project, which we are now just completing. Then we will look to continue to maximise the returns for the business by increasing our market share with our plant.”
The Beresfield plant will continue Fuchs Australia’s commitment to sustainable and environmentally sound modes of manufacture. It will incorporate a 155kW solar panel system, which is expected to provide about a third of the total power used by the plant, while water tanks will collect rainwater for the lawns and onsite gardens.
Leading technology & first-class service
Other innovations to increase the efficiency of the plant include a three-stage cleanliness system inside the plant and dedicated piping to reduce wastage. The plant has been designed with dedicated pipework and pumps to minimise product contamination and reduce waste. These measures to optimise the plant’s efficiency are all part of the company’s adherence to continuous improvement.
“A big challenge for us is constantly focusing on how we can improve,” Wayne says. “We want to become a world-class organisation. We have to become as efficient as possible. We want to continue to deliver leading technology and first-class service to our customers.”
We want to ensure we recruit, motivate and reward our best people. This will help us stay ahead of our competition.
Part of this goal of continuous improvement, Wayne explains, will be realised by valuing the company’s human resources. “We want to ensure we recruit, motivate and reward our best people. This will help us stay ahead of our competition; new players are entering the market at all times, particularly companies who import products rather than making them locally. We want to ensure we are better than those organisations in the marketplace.”
Wayne says this mindset will stand Fuchs Australia in good stead even as the market evolves with the entrance of new players. “We’re very competitive; we like to win. In the marketplace, you are competing like a football team. Your objective is to be the best team out there. We’re very focused on the team and what the team needs.”
Fuchs Australia’s ambitions to outperform its market rivals doesn’t detract from a cooperative atmosphere within the company, Wayne says. “Family is really important to our organisation, and we’re very focused on work–life balance. We value trust and integrity, and I really believe in leading by example or ‘walking the talk’. I think the best leaders today are the ones who lead by example.”