What do bridges, unusually tall buildings like skyscrapers, dams and boreholes have in common? They have either deep and complex foundations or they require specialized drilling works. In both cases, heavy and special equipment are required.
I had a chance to meet up with Michael Starzynski from Bauer Maschinen GmbH, a company founded and based in Germany. Since 1790 the company has grown and is now offering a range of equipment needed by specialist foundation engineering contractors.
I paid Michael a visit at the Bauer stand at the recently concluded Big 5 Construct East Africa 2016 event and we had a chat:
Barrack: Hi Michael, please tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up as Bauer’s Sales Manager for the Africa market.
Michael: I am Michael Starzynski and I work for Bauer Maschinen, where I have worked for about one year and three months now. I studied mechanical engineering in Saxony. It was while I was attending this course that Bauer was featured. After I finished my course, Bauer was always on my mind. They were the first to respond to my job application and that’s how I ended up at Bauer – where I am in the department responsible for sales in Africa.
B: Which African countries have you visited so far?
M: I have been to Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa. This is my first time in Kenya.
B: What are your responsibilities within Bauer?
M: I am the first contact person for a new or existing client. If they have any questions about any of our products, I am the person to contact. This goes all the way to issues regarding after-sales maintenance and service. We help our customers find solutions to their exact needs.
B: How do you do that – I mean, you are based in Germany and your market covers an entire continent?
M: We have subsidiaries in South Africa and Dubai. In case of any urgent customer needs, anyone from these branches can avail themselves.
B: So who is Bauer and what does Bauer do?
M: Well, Bauer is a company with a very long history that was founded by Sebastian Bauer in 1790 in Germany in a town called Schrobenhausen. We have grown to become a specialist foundations company. Bauer is known for one of the first heavy duty rotary drilling rig in the market. That was in the year 1976. Many of the other drilling rigs in the world have borrowed from this pioneer rig made by Bauer.
Bauer started initially in well drilling. In those days, there was a great need for wells in Bavaria, Germany. Over time, we have developed drilling rigs for all kinds of operations.
B: What are some of the projects in Africa that have been done using Bauer equipment?
M: In Nigeria we have done a few. We also have projects in South Africa and Angola involving foundations for bridge construction, high rise buildings and fertilizer plants. These required special foundations and our plant and equipment came in handy.
B: What are you hoping to achieve at the end of The Big 5 Construct East Africa event?
M: We hope to find new customers. And the work is to actually convince them that we can provide the best equipment for their needs. Bauer has a long history and experience in special foundations and this allows us to help our customers get the best solutions to the specific projects they will undertake.
B: How competitive are your prices? What about quality?
M: We have a saying in Germany – “The sweetness of a low price is soon forgotten but the bitterness of low quality lasts long”. That said, I know that Bauer equipment is not cheap in the short-term, but it is cheap and reliable in the long-run.
B: Who are the customers that you are targeting?
M: We are targeting contractors who are involved in the kinds of construction works that require our range of equipment. There are also businesses that buy the equipment either to lease or to use in their own projects.
B: Did the growth in mining and drilling activities influence Bauer’s participation in this event?
M: Certainly yes – because we also offer equipment for mining solutions. This is despite our core business being construction and specifically, specialist foundations. A simple example, a 40-storeyed building will often require foundations such as pile foundations. Our equipment come in handy in fixing piles in the foundations.
B: What makes your range of equipment exceptional?
M: Bauer is the market leader in this line of business. This means that when it comes to new challenges, we are in a better place to provide solutions to our customers even if it means creating new methods and making them available to their projects.
B: What are some of the lessons that you have learned when it comes to introducing new products and equipment in the construction market?
M: Speaking with reference to Africa and from our experience – patience. We have had cases where the time between an inquiry and a sale was three years. So patience is everything. Despite that, we hope to meet new customers and get further into the market. We plan to tell our potential customers about who we are and what we do. This is why we are here.