Atlas Copco Portable Energy plans to add between 100 and 200 sales staff outside of Europe over the next 24 months as part of an effort to globalise its business.
The company, which produces compressors, gensets, lighting towers and pumps, also confirmed it wants to add diesel driven pumps to the submersible models that it currently produces, probably through an acquisition.
Norbert Paprocki, the division’s president who took up his post in July last year, told IRN that the additional sales staff would help the company exploit opportunities in growth markets such as the US, Latin America, Middle East, Asia and China.
“Latin America is growing double digits for us”, said Mr Paprocki, a former Chicago Pneumatic manager, “Brazil has slowed in the last six months – linked to politics and currency issues – but the rest of the region is pretty good, driven by mining, oil and gas.” He said the Middle East was growing and that China, after a slower 2012, was expected to pick up later this year.
South East Asia is also a key target. “There is rental demand in South East Asia, but we are not strong enough there yet…We want a greater rental share. We will have more people, dedicated people for the rental market.”
He said rental growth in North America looked assured for the next three to four years.
The increase in the saleforce is taking place in tandem with investment in production capacity. A new factory for compressors, generators and lighting towers has just been opened in Wuxi, China and a compressor plant is also soon to open near to Atlas Copco’s existing facility in Pune, India. The company already has facilities in Brazil, the US, Spain (for generators), Belgium and Germany (submersible pumps).
The company also plans to expand its product range with the addition of diesel driven pumps. Atlas Copco currently makes a range of submersible pumps (previously branded Weda) at a plant in Germany.
“We are looking at acquisitions in pumps – we want to be in the diesel driven pump business”, said Mr Paprocki, “We do have targets and we are very active with visits, contacts and negotiations.” There is unlikely to be any announcement in the short term.
Meanwhile, Mr Paprocki said European rental companies remained cautious about investment in their fleets. There are exceptions, however, such as France, where investment in maintenance of public assets such as nuclear power plants and dams was creating business for specialist compressor and generator rentals; “Heavy maintenance investment over the next five years is driving demand for specialist rental companies”, he told IRN.