Franco Invernizzi and Case on tour

CMME talks to Case’s Franco Invernizzi, senior director, Africa and Middle East, as the team at CNH enjoy a whistlestop tour of the GCC.

Case and New Holland equipment was out in force at series of open day events.

Case and New Holland equipment was out in force at series of open day events.

CMME talks to Case’s Franco Invernizzi, senior director, Africa and Middle East, as the team at CNH enjoy a whistlestop tour of the GCC. 

CNH, the Fiat-owned fused company of Case New Holland, has set itself the ambitious target of breaking into the circle of dominant forces in earthmoving. Pitching at price points lower than competitors such as Caterpillar and Volvo on the heavy side, it is also hopeful it can make ground with its compact range against the ubiquitous Bobcat.

While the ending of the partnership with Kobelco may make it easier for the marketing executive who designs the corporate business cards at Fiat Industrial, CNH still appears in the region as two separate ranges.

Small wonder that when the company set-out on a tour of the GCC, which included half a dozen dealer days it had to mobilise a crack team to cover the territory. One of the men leading the assault is company executive Franco Invernizzi, senior director, Africa and Middle East, Case Construction Equipment. We meet at the opening of the company’s Saudi Arabian dealer Roots Group’s new sales office in the capital Riyadh.

Expanding in the Kingdom
“This is the second opening in Saudi Arabia (for Roots Group) and it is very important,” he begins. “We are really excited as things are going pretty well in terms of market share and the brand.”

Invernizzi is referring to the progress Roots Group has made in the Kingdom since it signalled its intent with the opening of one of the company’s largest distribution centres in the world in Jeddah at the beginning of 2012. According to Roots, sales have already perked up by 5%. A third location is on its way, he says.

“We will have another branch in Dammam opened by the end of the last quarter,” he adds.

The relationship with Roots Group has been a full partnership in the Kingdom with both parties contributing to building a physical presence in a market CNH was once happy to leave to its previous dealership.

“We have both made an investment,” he explains. “Not only in establishing the two branches but also in building confidence, training people, and offices.”

Construction Machinery Middle East first joined the tour at one of the many dealer days it hosted, with Al Shirawi in Abu Dhabi, two weeks prior to the Riyadh opening. While some open days may only involve a static show, that event included a full demonstration of its range including excavators, loaders and compacts.

With Hakan Ilhan, director of marketing for Case Construction and New Holland in the Middle East and Turkey, acting as ringmaster and a bevvy of engineers and technicians from CNH on hand to talk to customers, it is clear that the company is willing to push hard to gain its share in the market.

He explains why it is important for the company to tackle the region at this time and the purpose of a tour.

“At the end of the day, the best way to do this is to get the right people together from all over the world. So we built a team, from Europe and other parts – and the result has been good.”

Coming in a year with traditional European showcase Bauma sitting in the middle, it may seem like the tour was organised to stir up interest in CNH’s significant presence at the event. Invernizzi however sees the purpose of his team’s support of dealers as a very different promotional exercise.

“Bauma is important, sure, but not for the customer. All the dealers will come to Bauma, but not all the customers, so we wanted to visit them. This kind of event at Al Shirawi is about us proceeding on our track and our plan.”

Much is made about the differences between Saudi’s major cities and spending time in Riyadh has allowed him to compare with his previous experience of Jeddah, which is one of its major hubs for the Middle East and Africa.

“I had a totally different idea of Riyadh (before I arrived) and it is totally different from Jeddah,” he remarks. “Jeddah is important for us, but I was told that a high share of the market is here.”

Boasting a “value proposition” and given the proximity of Jeddah to Africa it would seem logical that it could also help plug CNH into the neighbouring continent’s key markets. However for the moment it is serving primarily the Saudi market. Invernizzi explains how it does aim to service the region.

“We have three different hubs,” he explains. “For the Middle East we have Istanbul and in the future Dubai. For Africa we have two hubs. One in North Africa in Algeria to serve developing countries there. And the other is in South Africa.”
Based in Turin, Italy (“do you know whether I will be able to watch football in Riyadh?” The AC Milan fan asks at one point), Invernizzi’s role demands he spends time cross the enormous continent. How much travelling does he do?

“Next question,” he jests. “It’s crazy but it’s exciting especially in South Africa. People think that South Africa is just about mining, but it’s not like that. Mining can also be complicated.”

The CNH tour is due to move onto Bahrain when we talk, Invernizzi has other plans. “Yesterday I was in Jeddah, after here I go to South Africa,” he pauses. “My wife is probably missing me!”


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