One of the most promising emerging markets globally is Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.
The country’s last elections saw a sweeping victory for the liberal social-democratic NLD party – just one of the milestones in a long process of economic and political reforms that are dramatically transforming Myanmar.
Long-standing sanctions that isolated its economy have been lifted and the country, just recently in the firm grasp of a military junta, is opening up to the world. Foreign investors are seeking opportunities in the resource-rich country, especially in energy and infrastructure. The demand is fueled by the country’s population of over 50 million.
An average annual growth rate of 8.5% has occurred since the start of reforms and the lifting of sanctions. Forecasts have Myanmar continuing to grow at 8% per year until 2020.
Cummins engines have been popular in Myanmar for many years.
Prior to 2013, Cummins entered the market through its joint venture with Cummins DKSH Thailand which started selling to customers like The Eden Group. In 2013, DKSH Myanmar agreed to let Cummins DKSH Thailand use its business license to start building a joint venture business to service Myanmar customers. In 2015, Cummins DKSH Myanmar gained a business license.
Tony Brown is general manager of the Cummins DKSH Myanmar business, He jointed Cummins in the UK in 2001 and held senior manager positions until 2009 when he moved to Nigeria to head up the development of Cummins’ service business in the African country.
Building service support capability
“The most important thing for Cummins in Myanmar is building our people skills and service support capability,” he says. “We need to instill the Cummins culture in our newly hired employees. Many of them are not aware how big and professional Cummins is globally.
“Cummins’ code of business conduct also needs to be a critical part of how we go about business in Myanmar.”
He points out that when telecommunications Company Ooredoo ordered 1200 Cummins generator sets in 2014, Cummins was thrust into the spotlight. “We needed to focus on our service support…. In 2015 our technical staff increased from six to 40 in five months,” he says.
“It posed a tremendous challenge training our technical people in a short period of time and getting them on to the job quickly. A lot of investment has been spent on technical training.”
Another market segment that has needed focus is fishing vessels in Myeik in the extreme south of Myanmar on the Andaman Sea. “We estimate there are at least 2000 fishing vessels in the region powered by Cummins KTA19 and NTA855 engines,” says Tony Brown. “One shipyard alone is taking six new Cummins engines every four months for fishing vessels.
“Most of the vessel owners have had little interaction with Cummins as a company and we are now working to build a relationship with them by putting a team of technicians in Myeik as well as opening as shop for spare parts.”
Reliable Cummins generator power.
Myanmar Apex Bank (MAB), part of the Eden Group conglomerate, has 70 branches throughout the country and each has a standby Cummins generator set. Grid power is still unreliable in Myanmar and often these standby generator sets need to run as prime power during business hours because they are more reliable than the gird supply.
“We rely totally on Cummins for technical support and that support is very good,” we were told by an MAB technical leader.
The Eden Group is also using Cummins generator sets – seven in total – at two five star hotels it is managing for American company Hilton Worldwide. Three further Hilton hotels will be opened in 2016-2017.
Another customer Cummins DKSH is working closely with is Leadway Heavy Machinery which has supplied around 100 Cummins engines – QSK 19 and KTA38 units – to a jade mine in Hpakant in the northernmost part of Myanmar.
Cummins DKSH technicians are often called on to brave the elements when servicing engines. During the raining season they have to negotiate flood waters to reach remote locations, and use of buffalo carts and small motor boats to transport parts is not unusual.
“Our aim is to distinguish ourselves from our competitors through our customer support. We have to take a great leap so that everyone else is in catch-up mode,” says Tony Brown.