Marcopolo visits Volgren

Volgren’s customers remain the key focus, says new shareholder Marcopolo

Marcopolo visits Volgren
Marcopolo visits Volgren

By Tom Noble | March 27, 2012

Customers will continue to be the priority at Volgren, says the company’s new shareholder, the Brazilian bus manufacturer Marcopolo.

"The first message to our customers is that they can keep trusting and relying on Volgren," says Marcopolo’s Chief Executive Officer Jose Rubens de la Rosa on his recent visit to Australia.

"Volgren now has two shareholders – Marcopolo and the Grenda family – and both believe in the importance of customer care."

Marcopolo completed the purchase of a majority stake in Volgren in February, and jointly owns the company with the Melbourne-based Grenda family, who established Volgren in 1977.

"We are here for the long-term, and any of our customers who want to invest a lot of money should do so with confidence because the products of Volgren will remain available and supported long into the future," de la Rosa says.

"We have long experience in this industry and we know the value of reliable customer care and prompt spare parts availability.

"This is a value of Volgren that will remain in force and even expanded.’

de la Rosa says Marcopolo was attracted to the Australian company largely because of its family values, support for its staff and outstanding customer relationships.

"The Grenda family share the same values as us, which is very important," he says.

"This is a good company, the market leader. Nobody is market leader by chance – it is because the company is delivering value to its customers.

"We have something working, and working well, so there is no need for changes. Actually, it is the opposite, it is time to enlarge the positive skills at Volgren and add new points that the Volgren executive team thinks might be beneficial."

de la Rosa says two of Marcopolo’s core values are customer satisfaction and building long-term relationships.

"We want, as a company, to deliver the best possible buses," he says.

According to de la Rosa, Marcopolo found out about the opportunity to buy shares in Volgren late in the sale process.

"Due to the geographical distance we had not been notified," he says.

"Then we received information from the bank, UBS, and we started to analyse the material, and the material was very good.

"We had just finalised our strategic plan, which said that good companies, market leaders, should be among our targets worldwide. Then Volgren appeared. It was perfect timing."

In mid-October, Marcopolo sent a delegation to Melbourne.

"We entered the process right at the end," says de la Rosa said. "We were the last ones to visit."

But de la Rosa says Marcopolo is very happy with the result.

"We live buses, so we were a much better partner than any other."

Marcopolo was established in 1949 by the Bellini family, and the company had since grown to become one of the world’s biggest bus makers.

Marcopolo is listed on the Brazilian stock exchange, and the Bellini family remains a large shareholder, closely involved in daily activities.

Marcopolo’s vice-chairman Mauro Bellini, son of the founder, says his father was still Chairman of the company and was attracted to Volgren not only by the strength of its business, but by the values of the Grenda family.

‘We are market leader in Brazil and Volgren is market leader in Australia," Bellini says.

"Despite the geographic differences, we also share the same values. They are people-oriented, and customer oriented. We find a lot of similarities."

de la Rosa says the Bellini family had long believed in the importance of looking after its workforce to ensure people were motivated and committed to producing the best possible buses.

In 1988, Marcopolo’s owners dedicated more than four per cent of its shares to a foundation. The dividends paid by the shares are used to support the staff, their families and the communities Marcopolo works in.

"The link between the company and the staff is very well structured in every aspect," de la Rosa says.

"We have a club for our employees, we sponsor education for people, help families with special needs, and we have a deep connection to the community by helping the poorest parts."

de la Rosa says he looked forward to working with the Volgren team headed by Chief Executive Officer Peter Dale.

"I think we could add competencies to a very good company, and we could also learn things by sharing information, so it is a very good situation," de la Rosa says.

He says his expectations were far surpassed after meeting Volgren’s executive team ‘who are a very committed and qualified group of experts in the bus industry’.

He stressed how happy he was to have the opportunity to share experiences with them.

The quality of the products and consequently the quality of Volgren workers were also mentioned by de la Rosa as an important advantage to the company in Australia.

Volgren CEO Peter Dale says he was delighted to host a delegation of five visiting Marcopolo executives in February, which included visits to the Volgren assembly plants in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Newcastle. Some customers and business partners were also visited, and all were very receptive to the new partner.

"This visit provided the opportunity for Volgren staff to learn first-hand that it is very much business-as-usual," Dale says.

"Marcopolo is working closely with the Grenda family and together they are committed to ensuring Volgren remains the country’s leading bus body-builder, and that our customers continue to receive the highest standard of customer care."

*In photo: Volgren CEO Peter Dale, left, and Marcopolo CEO Jose Rubens de la Rosa visit Volgren plants in February

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