Engineering Supplies Limited or simply ESL is a family business founded and operated in Kenya for almost four decades. While they are known for heavy machinery, they have a package that is reasonably affordable for budding businesses. I had a chance to briefly interact with Sanjay Pandya, the Managing Director of the ESL Group.
BARRACK: Who is Sanjay and what is the story behind Engineering Supplies Limited (ESL)?
SANJAY: I am Sanjay Pandya and I run the ESL Group business. I am, in fact, the second generation in the family business. My son is also in the business in our Nairobi office. Our company was formed in the year 1978 and that means that it has seen three generations.
B: Who founded the business and when did you join?
SP: My father formed the business in 1978 and I joined him in 1980. I am a businessman by profession.
B: Where are your offices located?
SP: We have our main office in Mombasa – because that’s where our family business was established. We also have offices in Nairobi’s Industrial Estate along Dunga Road.
B: What are the products and equipment that ESL deals with?
SP: Our core activities revolve around construction equipment, power generators, pumping equipment and workshop equipment. We focus more on construction equipment and power generation. Workshop equipment are a much smaller part of our operations.
B: What are some of the brands that ESL deals with?
SP: There is Fiori – which manufactures concrete batching vehicles. There is also Gotti from Brazil that manufactures concrete mixers. Another is Dynamic Machinery is a brand from China that is known for construction equipment. We also stock Spartan which has a very broad range of products – from welding machines to pumps and more.
We provide support for all the brands that we stock. Whenever buyers purchase anything from us, we provide the post-sales services. This is through ensuring that we give quality spares that will enable our customers run and operate their machines for a long period of time. We appreciate the amount of investment people put in plant and equipment . We have an obligation to protect their investment.
B: What are you anticipating to achieve at the end of The Big 5 Construct East Africa event?
SP: We intend to create awareness of our company brand. We also hope to close some deals.
B: How is your distribution network across Kenya so far?
SP: Like I said, we have an office in Mombasa. It’s from this office that all matters touching on importation are handled. Our Nairobi office handles the distribution of our stock to our upcountry dealer network.
B: How is your relationship with your dealers? Are you by any chance also looking for potential dealers?
SP: Yes, we are open to new dealers joining our network. We have special pricing structures with our dealers where they can buy from us at a given price. We strive to keep our promise to our dealers – a promise not to undercut them.
B: Who is the most loyal customer in ESL’s database?
SP: We have a customer who has been our customer from day one when ESL was founded. He, of course, gets special privileges. He’s been our customer for about 40 years now.
B: What are your thoughts about brands from China?
SP: Inasmuch as people have their views and perceptions about brands from China, we are very selective and very particular about the brands we stock. We have a reputation as a brand and we are careful to ensure that we deliver on the expectations our customers have in us.
B: What are some of the incentives that you have as ESL that are in the form of special packages?
SP: It is important to say that we offer our products at very competitive prices. In fact we have what we call combo packages. This is equipment that can help someone start up a business. If a young person wants to start a small workshop, we have a package deal which comprises of a grinder, a drill, a welding machine and accessories that are at a reduced price, affordable for an entrepreneur. The costs of this package start from Kshs 28,000.
We also have other bigger packages such as a concrete mixer that is sold together with a poker vibrator – which are the crucial items for anyone who is interested in starting a concrete mixing business.