Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC (DIMO) and Mahindra have journeyed a long way together and touched many milestones. Founded in 1939 by four entrepreneurs - Pandithage Don Alexander, Stephen Peiris, Harold Algama and Cyril Algama – DIMO PLC (previously known as Diesel & Motor Engineering Company Limited) was initially only in the business of automobile sales and repairs. Since then, the company has not only grown in size but in scope of activities as well. Its team strength as on March 2015 was over 1600 employees and annual turnover was of USD 200 million (2014-2015).
DIMO PLC is ably led by Mr. Ranjith Pandithage (Chairman & Managing Director) and Mr. Gahanath Pandithage (Group CEO). While Mr. Ranjith Pandithage has an engineering background, Mr. Gahanath Pandithage has management accountancy skills coupled with auditing experience. Mr Ranjith Pandithage has a grand vision for DIMO and he guides the agriculture equipment department to focus on the bigger picture of farm mechanization rather than only on short term goals of profit generation.
Here’s looking at what makes DIMO the success it is while in conversation with its Chairman & Managing Director.
Q1: DIMO has been playing a vital role in the farm mechanization in Sri Lanka for over 2 decades. You are entering the silver jubilee year of partnership with Mahindra. Could you take us through this journey?
DIMO has been playing different roles in bringing about initiatives for farm mechanization in Sri Lanka. The tie-up with Mahindra Tractors dates back to 1991, and we are on the verge of celebrating 25 years in 2016. DIMO and Mahindra tractors have been serving customers with efficient sales and after sales support since inception. DIMO has also made consistent efforts during the last two decades to build a distinct identity for the Mahindra tractors brand and keep it top-of-the-mind with various activities and campaigns at the grassroots level. Every passing year has witnessed growth in the Mahindra tractors brand and it has a definite edge over competitors.
Q2: What as per you makes Mahindra so successful in the Sri Lankan market?
The success lies in a few key areas. Like investment in human capital. From the last 1-2 years, special emphasis has been placed on recruitment, training, team building and personnel development. These initiatives have enabled the Mahindra tractors’ team to remain dynamic, energetic and focused, and also enabled them to mould to the continuously evolving tractor market. Customer Relationship Management is another focus area. Close rapport and listening to customers has enabled Mahindra Tractors and DIMO to deliver beyond what the competitors offer.
Q3: You’ve talked about the ease with which Mahindra connects with its customers and DIMO enhancing this value proposition in distribution and after sales support. Can you share some insights on the value propositions you offer to your customers?
The ability of farmers to directly be in touch with DIMO has had a greater significance. With more than 50 DIMO owned touch points across the country, farmers can directly liaise with the company regarding sales, spares and after sales. This also enables DIMO to give prompt attention to their concerns and understand their needs. DIMO also has a 24-hour customer helpline for instant communication. The company makes it a point to address their concerns and follow it up till a solution is provided and documented in the ERP system.
Q4.Handling such a big customer base and dealer network must be challenging. One needs a lot of systems and processes to manage all this. What all systems and processes you have put in place to serve the internal and external customers?
DIMO uses an advanced ERP system which is also used by Mercedes-Benz. Invoicing, customer contact details updating, CRM and all other functions are smoothly and efficiently carried out through this system.
Q5: What are other benefits of this process orientation?
The overall organisational efficiency and performance has increased and can be monitored in detail at any given time from any remote location. This also allows Mahindra tractors to follow up with their customers on a daily basis.
Q6: The Sri Lankan agri market went through a bad phase in last 3-4 years. It was the commitment and hard work put in by the Mahindra and DIMO teams that we gained market share in the difficult times from 12% in F13 to 20% in F15. How did you make the transition happen?
The transition was mainly due to the vision to take the growth story to another level. To achieve this vision, changes were bought about in the management team a few years back. The new management team of Mahindra tractors was suitably guided and they looked at the business from a completely new angle, changing the way it was being done which has resulted in today’s success. Great emphasis was placed on human capital, operational management, strategic planning and sales force development. Today Mahindra tractors boasts of the most well trained staff in the industry. Moreover, DIMO has achieved the ‘Great Place to Work’ title even for 2015, which has brought recognition and admiration.
Q7: What are your aspirations and plans for the coming year?
DIMO aspires to make Mahindra tractors synonymous with the category. So if anyone thinks of a tractor, Mahindra should be the first name that comes to their mind. Plans are also underway to take Mahindra tractors even deeper into the rural areas, increase the market share by 50% and customer satisfaction levels by 10% by 2016 end. DIMO is all geared to make 2016 a bigger success than 2015 was.