TMD Friction is ready for the aftermarket boom in the MEAAP region – prospects and opportunities
The Middle East, Africa, Asia & Pacific (MEAAP) region is one of the world’s largest growth markets. That also applies to the automotive aftermarket. Over the coming years, several million vehicles will switch to the used-vehicle segment in China alone, resulting in a huge boom in the aftermarket.
TMD Friction is one of the leading global providers of brake technology for original equipment as well as on the spare parts market. The company identified this development early on and aligned its sales strategy for the region correspondingly, incorporating regional sales teams, local warehouses and production facilities. This ensures that the company is not only closer to its customers, but that it also has the capacity to serve the markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa directly, more successfully and more quickly. Marco Loth, Vice President and Commercial Director MEAAP at TMD Friction is the driving force behind this alignment to the needs of the region. This feature provides information on the background, measures and opportunities of the sales strategy of TMD Friction for the automotive aftermarket and the perspectives of the MEEAP region.
Leverkusen, 21/06/2021. Brake friction suppliers that also want to operate successfully in the MEAAP region aftermarket must adapt to regional trends. Traditional, primarily European organisational structures that cater to the rest of the world from the company headquarters in Europe are no longer able to meet the changing demands of the markets. Future-proof strategies must instead respond to dynamic situations and the needs of local customers and distribution partners.
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Photo: TMD Friction.jpg: TMD Friction is a genuine brake lining specialist, offering the broadest brand portfolio in this specific product area. The brands are specifically tailored to certain regions, vehicle segments and price classes.
Future-proof aftermarket sales strategies for the MEAAP region TMD Friction, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of brake technology, decided to switch to a clearly customer-oriented strategy seven years ago. In doing so, it aims to position the company’s own brands to ensure that they are precisely tailored to specific regions and their market requirements, vehicle segments and price classes. While export managers had been catering to the market from Europe, TMD Friction gradually began opening its own local sales offices in 2016. Today TMD Friction has offices in Dubai, Singapore and Shanghai with a total of more than 30 employees. TMD Friction also has warehouses in Shanghai and Qingdao as well as its own production facilities in China that are operated directly by TMD Friction or the parent company Nisshinbo.
The presence of local employees in the various regions has increased the appeal and efficiency of TMD Friction in the MEAAP region, creating an excellent foundation for further growth of the company in the region.
The region holds enormous potential for the automotive sector. According to TecAlliance, China alone has around 20 million new registrations per year, with a total of 244 million registered vehicles across the country. Nearly 155 million are Asian and around 89 million are non-Asian models. The average age of vehicles in the Chinese market is less than five years. Based on this, a high number of vehicles will likely be available for the aftermarket over the coming years. To compare: In Germany, the annual number of new car registrations is almost three million, with an average age of 10 to 11 years. But even countries which are not yet in the spotlight due to low growth rates, such as Indonesia, which has 270 million residents and an even lower vehicle coverage, will become increasingly attractive for the aftermarket in future. The wealthy middle class is also growing in Africa, meaning that the number of cars will also increase here in future.
Particularities of doing business in the Middle East, Africa, Asia & Pacific region
Despite over 5 billion residents in the MEAAP region, as well as tremendous distances and large differences in mindset, the fleet of vehicles is relatively consistent and the range of products in the automotive aftermarket is relatively uniform. For example, the exact same version of a Toyota model can be found in Kenya, Ghana, Oman, Malaysia, Japan and China.
Yet there are differences in customer needs, which have also continued to develop over the past years. For example: while the focus in Europe, and especially in Germany, is on performance – likely due to fewer speed limits – car drivers in Asia and the Middle East have completely different priorities. Here, the main focus is on comfort, such as low dust formation and low noise when braking. Owners also often view their cars as an indication of prestige, an image that is not compatible with brake dust on the aluminium rims. This is why TMD Friction uses an NAO (Non Asbestos Organic) material for Nisshinbo products, which is a specific category of friction materials for brake linings that covers these demands whilst maintaining high braking performance.
The many different cultures in a region as vast as the MEAAP region also mean that business practices in the various sub-regions vary greatly. For example, it is often the case that business processes have seen little digitalisation. Especially in the MEA region, orders are often submitted personally to the local sales manager on paper.
Overall, the large global market changes, such as the wave of consolidation in the region’s spare parts market, have not really had their breakthrough like in the USA or Europe. Around 80 percent of commercial enterprises and companies are still family-owned. The family members are often also active in daily business themselves. On the one hand, this leads to faster decision-making, and on the other, it means that personal relationships are extremely important.
Deployment of sales staff from the respective region promotes trust and thus facilitates the establishment of business relationships. Once trust has been gained, the customers are usually very loyal. However, the expectations placed on customer support are also high for existing business relationships. TMD Friction’s regional presence reduces the time differences between TMD Friction offices and customer locations. In addition, the local sales staff speak the regional languages and are very familiar with the specific cultural contexts. Our local sales staff speak the regional languages and are very familiar with the specific cultural contexts. This helps us create the ideal conditions for customer support.
“Another important success factor is the constant availability of the products,” explains Marco Loth, Vice President and Commercial Director MEAAP at TMD Friction. “As a premium manufacturer, we also provide premium service. This means product quality as well as high delivery reliability and product availability, among other things,” adds Loth. Having its own production facilities and warehouses in the region allows TMD Friction to provide this high level of delivery performance. TMD Friction’s recipe for success in the region is to build up capacity rather than cut it back. Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, the company was able to prove its best-in-class availability through short routes and the decision to not scale down the warehouses. The capability of shipping TMD Friction and Nisshinbo branded products directly from warehouses and factories in Asia reduces delivery times to the Middle East from six weeks to 14 days. With traditional delivery processes in the past, products were often shipped to Europe only once complete, were stored there and could only then be transported to their destination. Thanks to direct shipping, the customer now not only receives the goods quicker but can also cut freight costs.
From premium to budget – everything from a single source for passenger cars and trucks
TMD Friction plays a significant role globally in the premium brake friction segment for passenger cars and trucks – and not only in the automotive aftermarket. As an OE manufacturer and spare parts market supplier, TMD Friction’s brands represent product quality and OEM know-how for European car manufacturers; in Asia, the parent company Nisshinbo is strongly represented in the OE market. Together the two companies cover almost the entire vehicle fleet (passengers cars and commercial vehicles) with their brand portfolios and can also apply their OE business expertise directly to the aftermarket segment.
Textar is currently the most significant TMD Friction brand for the aftermarket in the MEAAP region, as the products in the aftermarket for premium European vehicles have already been well-known and established for decades. To further optimise the rapid supply of Textar products in the region, the range of products in the warehouses is continually being optimised. In addition, the warehouse capacities in China will also be expanded for Nisshinbo products within the next 12 months to also broadly serve the growing aftermarket for Asian vehicle applications.
In the premium segment, the quality of the products naturally plays a big role. Since customers place great trust in OE products and also look for these products in the aftermarket, TMD Friction enjoys a certain level of recognition as an original equipment manufacturer for Asian vehicles with its Nisshinbo brand. All TMD Friction products are tested and approved according to the valid OE provisions. For example, for the Textar brand, the final engineering release takes place in Europe and, for all Nisshinbo products, the final tests take place in our head office in Japan.
In the TMD Friction portfolio, there are also cheaper and powerful alternatives with Mintex brand products for the mid-price segment and the DON brand in the budget segment. These brands give garages the opportunity to serve more price-conscious customers with branded products from the TMD Friction family.
TMD Friction is also very present in the aftermarket for trucks in Africa and the Middle East, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Brake friction products from the Textar brand are available here in the premium segment. For the budget segment, DON brake pads and linings are also offered. Here too, TMD Friction benefits from its position as one of the few original equipment manufacturers among European truck brands, as original equipment manufacturer products are preferred for fitting in the quality-oriented aftermarket.
Impact of cultural differences
With its offices in Dubai, Singapore and Shanghai, TMD Friction has been sending out important signals to its partners in the aftermarket in the MEAAP region since 2016. Local business partners place great importance on commitment to the region. The local sales teams from TMD Friction are familiar with the country-specific and cultural customs, attitudes and working methods. Because people follow varying business practices in every economic region, it is usually easier to build trust with a business partner from the same cultural environment. In terms of the development of the aftermarket in the MEAAP region, considering these aspects gives the company great opportunities to be well-positioned for the growth spurt in the coming years.
Marco Loth, Commercial Director MEAAP and Vice President at TMD Friction, is the driving force behind the strict implementation of these findings: “Sales in the MEAAP region is a particular passion of mine and, alongside my role as Vice President, is also an important part of my day-to-day work. I have been working in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions for over 18 years now, and I lived there for nearly eight years. So I know the markets well and also understand the different cultures and how business is done in each individual country.”
Info box: Short profile Marco Loth
Marco Loth has many years of experience in the automotive aftermarket in Europe, Middle-East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and China. Since entering the industry over 23 years ago, he has built up numerous regional sales organizations. He lived and worked in Singapore, Istanbul and Dubai for eight years alone. As Vice President, he is responsible for global category management / pricing / engineering at TMD Friction. He is also responsible for the aftermarket business in the entire MEAAP area with offices in Leverkusen, Dubai, Shanghai and Singapore. With his profound knowledge of the region and his ability to adapt to different cultural contexts, he is now promoting TMD Friction’s presence throughout the MEAAP region.
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Photo: Marco Loth is Commercial Director MEAAP and Vice President Global Aftermarket Category Management, Pricing, Purchasing and Engineering at TMD Friction>
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Photo: Bob Liao, Director Asia Pacific, IAM at TMD Friction
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Photo: Nedal Abu Rikab, Sales Director & General Manager Middle East & Africa at TMD Friction
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Photo: Georgios Athanassiou, Business Development Director MEAAP at TMD Friction
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Photo: TMD Friction partner garage in Taipei, Taiwan
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Photo: Dubai office distributor Rolman-World with Nisshinbo outdoor advertising
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Photo: Textar and Nisshinbo partner garage in Jordan
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Photo: To ensure that the core business of garages does not hit the brakes even in difficult times, brake specialist TMD Friction is ensuring smooth supply chains and optimum availability of its entire product range with additional warehouses in China.
Copyright TMD Friction, 2021. Free reprint permitted provided source is acknowledged. We kindly ask that a specimen copy be sent to us.
Caption 5: TMD Friction Group logo. (Source and Copyright TMD Friction)
Photo: Reproduction permitted free of charge provided source is cited. Please send us a specimen copy.
ABOUT TMD FRICTION
TMD Friction, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nisshinbo Holdings Inc., is a leading global manufacturer of brake linings for the automotive and brake industries. In addition to disc and drum brake linings for cars and commercial vehicles, the company’s product portfolio also includes brake linings for motor racing and friction materials for the industry. TMD Friction supplies the worldwide spare parts market with the brands Textar, Mintex, Don, Pagid, Cobreq, Nisshinbo and Bendix. TMD Friction also develops and produces friction linings for the industry under the brand name Cosid. The TMD Friction Group has four locations in Germany and others in Europe, the USA, Brazil, Mexico, China and Japan and employs 4,500 people worldwide.
More information is available at www.tmdfriction.com