THE RIGHT TOOLS TO BUILD AFRICA

Stanley Black & Decker, a leading global hand tool manufacturer since its inception, has always been well-known for its iconic products. Celebrating 175 years of growth, the company has moved beyond the common perception that it is a brand just for hand tools.

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Today’s customer will find everything from hand tools, power tools, storage and more under one company.

Formerly known as The Stanley Works, the Fortune 500 American manufacturer of industrial tools and household hardware is headquartered in the greater Hartford city of New Britain, Connecticut, with their South African counterpart taking over the distribution of their products in the country in 2011.

“Today, Stanley Black & Decker, the result of a merger between Stanley Works and Black & Decker in 2010, is a leading diversified industrial, driven by our commitment to serve the builders, makers and protectors of the world. This year, we celebrate 175 years of innovating, creating and transforming the world of tools for everyone, from the DIY enthusiast to tradesman and the professional builder. Through constant innovation and acquisition, we have become the leaders in our industry,” says Yemi Fatunla, Stanley Black & Decker South Africa’s Managing Director.

Some of the Stanley Black & Decker brand acquisitions utilised in sub-Saharan Africa include Stanley Black & Decker and Expert by Facom, DEWALT Tools, Irwin, Lenox and Hilmor tool brands from Newell Brands.

Breaking barriers through design

Stanley Black & Decker brands have built their reputation on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and continuously bringing fresh twists to familiar, indispensable products. And while innovation lies at the very heart of their business, Fatunla believes that it is the ever-changing needs of their customers that drives their disruptive spirit.

“Innovation continues to power our businesses, right from the idea phase, and the innovation starts with the customer design concept. What we do then is design a machine that’s best in class, provides real value, does exactly what the customer wants it to do, and all this in a cost-effective manner,” he says.

Embedding responsible design principles and practices into their products, Stanley Black & Decker looks at all processes from safety and ergonomics to reducing the environmental impacts of material sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, customer use, distribution and end-of-life.

“We strive to improve the sustainability of our products and design new products with our ECOSMART operating philosophy in mind. We have implemented solutions to ensure that we are sustainable, from the design phase to our manufacturing plant itself. We are starting to ask how we could make it a carbon-positive type of facility in the future, I think that that it is the endpoint of this journey. For now, we continue to raise the bar every year when it comes to improving ourselves on the sustainability index,” Fatunla says.

“It’s also about making products that are more efficient and effective, so we take quite a holistic point of view. The faster you do a job, the less energy you use. You get things done much quicker if you have the right tools, and you also waste less material,” he adds.

With a robust culture of innovation and newly-established breakthrough teams, the company’s STANLEY Fulfilment System (SFS) has created a far-reaching innovation ecosystem. One aspect of this system is the dedicated Digital Accelerator, located in the Atlanta tech hub and responsible for enhancing the digital experience across this global enterprise, making digital pervasive in their products and marketing, manufacturing, supply chain and customer service platforms.

SFS also allows for continuous improvement in the operational aspects of Stanley Black & Decker, including innovation, commercial excellence and functional transformation.

“Most global companies have their own operating system, and SFS is ours. It encompasses all the key facets of our operation to ensure that the different parts of the engine all work together. To stay ahead and build a long-lasting organisation in a fast-changing world, you have to disrupt yourself. This disruption helps us to drive innovation and come up with new ideas, create paradigm shifts and reinvent ourselves. I think it’s important for us to think like innovators, not corporations, in order for this disruption to take place.

“Not only does a company like ours need to disrupt itself, but we must also then step out and do something about it. You must have a process in place that allows for new ideas to have a life of its own, and the results may see that idea filter back into the organisation or join the global commerce space, which is obviously the ideal outcome here. It takes someone who thinks differently to make this all possible,” he says.

Stanley Black & Decker has also created autonomous, off-site teams across the globe that pursue new ideas. These teams are purposefully located in innovation hubs, for easy access to start-ups, leading academics, potential partners and external inspiration. The teams work independently, but also coordinate and collaborate deeply with the businesses and with one another when ideas and opportunities coincide.

“And when you have our kind of vision for those who make the world, you have no choice but to cater for everyone. For a company this size, with our history and breadth of products, we are one of a very few who can take on this challenge. In everything we do, we keep our heritage in mind and our experience means we already have an in-road to the mind of the average customer. We’re in touch with them, we understand the next frontiers, and it’s this customer-inspired innovation that makes us so successful,” he says.

Taking back the African market

Stanley Black & Decker sub-Saharan Africa is a testament to the global organisation’s belief in the potential of the continent, where they want to become the number one tool company.

“We want to be topical with every customer, we want to add value, and want our customers to know that we are not just about tools but also home appliances and much more. We want to be everywhere, in every home and every business. We want to be seen as a company that serves those who make the world come to life on the continent,” says Fatunla.

“We understand the continent and the dynamics of the end users, what they need and how to supply it. We are here, close to them and have set up value chains and supply chains to make us relevant. Service is key, but we must also be bold and courageous, and go to places where others are not too keen to go,” he adds.

Stanley Black & Decker’s presence in East Africa, West Africa and Central Africa has increased significantly since their return in 2011, and they have established service centres and training academies, while developing their supply chain closer to the customer/channel structure.

“We have become top-of-mind and very relevant to the various market segments we serve, and there is an interesting mix of sales between tools and appliances. But there are challenges. Like most corporates, we need to make sure that fluctuations in currency have the least impact on our customers through proper management. You also have things like supply chain linkages, and it’s almost sad that it’s easier to bring products into Africa from Europe than to Africa from inside Africa. As we start to develop these linkages amongst the key sectors and geographies on the continent, we will become much bigger players and can do this efficiently by building up our capacities and capabilities to make it workable. I think in the very near future, we will be able to say that we are more efficient with our regional commerce, logistics and supply chain,” he says.

Just as important when it comes to the Stanley Black & Decker’s renewed presence in the country is their dedication to uplifting communities and contributing to sustainable development.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, there is a critical skills shortage and we need to start to help the development of certain skill sets in industries. How do we train people and develop them? What we need is for people who have those skills to talk about their technical knowledge,” he says.

Stanley Black & Decker has also been supporting the Daily Sun’s Mr Fixit team, a team of two men who, for 15 years, have been helping cash-strapped readers by fixing their leaking toilets, broken taps and doing other basic household repairs for free.

Readers send their requests to Mr Fixit via SMS and the team of two—Warren van Niekerk and Rudzani Ratshikakala—receive about 7 900 requests for assistance per year. The operation depends mainly on the sales of the newspaper to keep running.

Seeing the value of the service this duo provides for countless people, Stanley Black & Decker has partnered with Mr Fixit to provide them with hand and power tools, overalls and training using a variety of their own top-quality Stanley hand and power tools, including the popular and iconic Stanley knife and tape measure.

A man on a mission

An entrepreneur at heart, Fatunla applies his passion for innovation and growth to the corporate setting.

Comparing Africa to China, he believes that the two countries are similar, and that China serves as an excellent example of Africa’s growth potential.

“Our continent is waiting to rise. Every continent reaches a point of self-actualisation and every continent has had their period of industrialisation, except Africa. It’s exciting for me to be here now, helping this continent come of age.

Stanley Black & Decker is dedicated to investing in this dream and that’s really important to me personally. It’s then also crucial for us to develop new leaders who can handle the task at hand, it is big, and we can’t do it without strong leaders in place. I would consider myself to be a big picture kind of person. The prospect of what is possible and making the impossible possible is my main motivation,” he concludes. 

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