“We will focus directly on the end consumer,” explains MD Shepherd Shonhiwa.
He maintains that the decision to centralise the company’s gas distribution will facilitate improved service levels to Easigas’s customer base.
The LPG producer will now operate ten facilities at strategic locations across Southern Africa, such as Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and in Botswana. However, in more remote areas, Easigas will continue to service through its longstanding partner distributors.
Distribution will be supported by a centralised customer-service centre at the Easigas head office in Alberton, on the East Rand, as part of its customer value proposition. By controlling the distribution of its product, Easigas hopes to develop a brand awareness among its consumers and establish a direct relationship with them, commercial manager Mike Crisswell explains.
He also emphasises the importance of maintaining high standards of product quality and health, safety, security and environment.
Consequently, all Easigas distributors are trained continually regarding these stringent standards.
As part of Shell South Africa Marketing’s business portfolio, the dedicated LPG supplier has to ensure that these standards are applied consistently.
Shonhiwa comments that the Department of Minerals and Energy’s call to supply South Africa’s underserviced areas is what prompted the company to focus on the domestic urban and rural lower-income markets. This will see Easigas growing its market particularly in the township areas.
The expertise in distributing energy to these communities that the Shell Solar Energy research group developed supports Easigas in these endeavours, Shonhiwa explains. Crisswell notes that the LPG distributor will develop its ability to service these areas in joint ventures with other organisations in the energy sector in the foreseeable future.
The company has already established a pilot project in the Eastern Cape during 2002.
“This is a way of ensuring that LPG reaches the consumers with added synergies through Shell Solar Energy,” Crisswell remarks.
The market for bulk LPG is also promising, and growth opportunities are expected in the commercial and industrial market segments. The combined growth of these market segments necessitated the revision of management structures and the appointment of a dedicated marketing manager position. Moreover, the company also embarked on an aggressive human capital development plan to ensure that all management staff have the ability to carry the business forward.