Alain Worp has worked an impressive 15 years at Hyundai and spent 30 years in the manufacturing industry. So, when Hyundai Construction Equipment Europe (HCEE) needed a bold and experienced leader, its gaze fell on the man known for his proven track record as a sales director at the company. Stepping into the managing director role in early 2017, Alain has led the company from height to height.
HCEE has certainly grown since its European launch in 1985. Once only a handful of people sardined into a single office, today the company is headquartered in Belgium and has a staff of 125 people. HCEE officially spun off from Hyundai Heavy Industries in April 2017, with additional offices established in the UK, Germany, Italy and France to support local key markets.
Thanks to its use of advanced ergonomics, engineering and technology, HCEE stands tall as an industry leader. The high-quality manufacturing of hydraulic excavators, skid-steer loaders, wheel loaders, and industrial vehicles is made possible by innovative engineering, advanced automation, and a zero-tolerance quality control inspection system.
“Our independence has allowed us to become a fast-moving company, making independent decisions in the best interest of our industry and markets. It was all we really needed because, in the construction equipment business, you need to make quick decisions to keep up with the pace of the market,” says Alain.
A move to fresh premises marks a major milestone in HCEE’s path towards its goal of entering the top five ranking manufacturers in the global construction equipment market by 2023. Made possible through a whopping €30 million investment, HCEE’s new headquarters in Tessenderlo, Belgium, provides an 81,000-square-metre surface that acts as a “control tower for HCEE business for Europe”. It’s self-sufficient, with facilities including warehouses, an event hall, a showroom, offices and the Hyundai Training Academy.
Alain understands that HCEE is currently perceived as a middle segment brand, so shifting brand perception is one of its main objectives. And while it will take some time, HCEE is firmly on the way.
To do this, Alain says the company has been steadily investing in structure, quantity, quality and talent. Over the past 12 months, it has welcomed new high-level, top management employees to lead machine sales, marketing and spare-part sales, as well as product lines and R&D.
“Our machine quality is perceived as being on par with the top segment of our industry. In the end, it’s just name-brand image, which is not yet on the same level as the machine quality,” comments Alain. “We are trying to move away from a production-oriented enterprise, and more towards a sales- and marketing-orientated company. We do business with people, not with companies.”
“We do business with people, not with companies.”
A challenger on the move
The past four or five years have been positive for HCEE, with the company enjoying double-digit growth. And while 2018 is shaping up to be a peak year, the European market as a whole is expected to slow down next year, according to market intelligence, says Alain. Though it’s not likely to be a freefall, the markets may slow by a couple of % each year over the next four to five years, he adds. “And this, of course, is a challenge.”
To meet these challenges as an independent company, there needs to be a resetting of visions, objectives and certain standards, explains Alain. One way HCEE does this is via its HCEE Experience Days, where the company takes its relationship with the end user to the next level.
This year’s Experience Days saw more than 150 French customers and prospects invited to Belgium for a two-day ‘total Hyundai immersion’ program. On day one, visitors were given insight into the total product value chain, services, technologies and products. They also learned about the company history and European dealer network, and were offered a behind-the-scenes tour.
On day two, a nearby demo site was made available for a hands-on experience. A line-up of 20 machines, including the latest Hyundai models, were showcased and could be tested in realistic working conditions to see, hear and feel what makes HCEE varieties different. Dedicated training teams, product specialists and dealer teams were present to highlight key features and technologies.
Today, the company has a fully independent management system to match the unique characteristics of the construction equipment business and increase its global competitiveness. With a strong team and a string of successes, HCEE is shaking up the global construction market.
“We are a challenger on the market and we are on the move. We are moving forward. Step by step, year by year, we move forward and create progress,” says Alain.
“We are a challenger on the market and we are on the move."