“The tools have to be affordable and easy to repair,” says Waiblingen-based Product Manager Markus Mundl. “That is why emerging markets like Africa or Asia require different strategic product plans.” Trips, many conversations with locals and accurate observation of the market are now resulting in tools specially tailored to the needs, applications and technical knowledge of local users. “To put it very simply: one powerhead, countless possibilities,” Johannes Wetzel adds.
In Product Management in Waiblingen, Wetzel is responsible for the Africa market, and he has dealt extensively with the particular characteristics of this region. “It’s certainly not an easy market. It needs time to develop.” However, the STIHL Group is thinking ahead to the long term in this case and sees its role as helping customers help themselves. This makes the training courses and other instructional measures offered by Patrick Okello and his team a key area of action. “People have to know what we do, what our products are capable of and what potential our customers can tap into with our tools,” Markus Mundl says.
That makes the opening of a STIHL company in Kenya more than just a market cultivation measure. It is the consistent extension of the impulse that Andreas Stihl once formulated as the principle of his business activity: making it easier for people to work in and with nature. Despite the challenges that await him, Patrick Okello is looking to the future with a positive attitude: “Politics and the economy in Kenya are in flux. The small and medium-sized business sector is growing, and major opportunities are arising in East Africa. The STIHL Group understands this.”