BASF Coatings Services recently extended its distributor partnership agreement with RSB AutoGroup for a further 10 years. After fruitful negotiations, ink was put to paper on the 23rd of October at the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg.

RSB and BASF have had a successful history since the inception of RSB in 2010. Paul Mandersloot, managing director for BASF Coatings Services who spearheaded the agreement said: “The main objective of our business relationship with RSB has always been to work together to achieve mutual success. Therefore, with a shared vision in mind, it was fundamental that in structuring this partnership, conceiving a sustainable business model had to be a priority,” Mandersloot noted.

R-M® in South Africa

From its establishment in 2010, RSB AutoGroup has been the sole distributor of R-M®; BASF’s premium automotive refinish paint. “Our business took shape very quickly,” mentioned Warren Tollman, CEO for RSB AutoGroup. “We decided from the onset, to distribute the ONYX HD waterborne basecoat system in the market which enabled us to target all the OEM approved motor body repairers, particularly Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, where we currently have good representation.”

RSB’s operations started in Johannesburg but it was not long until the business opened three more branches in Durban, Cape Town and Bloemfontein over a period of five years. The newly signed deal will see the entity expand its operations across the borders of South Africa into neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

“BASF saw our growth potential from day one and we had trust in the R-M® brand. This summarily made our union inevitable and seven years on, we are committing to a further decade long alliance,” expressed Tollman.

Senior delegate, René Lang who is the vice president for BASF Coatings Automotive Refinish Solution in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) graced the occasion and partook in the signing ceremony. “Each member of a partnership needs to feel a sense of support and be optimistic about the collaboration for the partnership to become successful. So, even though we operate from miles apart, we aim to show our global sales organisations that they have our backing from headquarters,” explained Lang.

Lang also shared on the success of the two-legged market approach embarked on by BASF in South Africa for its two premium brands, Glasurit and R-M®. He hails the South African operations as a role-model in his EMEA region as BASF tackles the market through direct sales with the Glasurit brand and through an extensive distributor network; RSB AutoGroup with R-M®.

In 2015, RSB was the largest distributor of R-M® in the EMEA region and was accorded the first ever EMEA Distributor Excellence award. “Receiving this award was a confirmation of the benefits of our partnership with BASF,” noted Tollman. “Back in our yard, we made sure our business focus was centred around our customers, as their success is our success. Our customers see us as an extension of their business and not merely a supplier which has in turn allowed us to grow our footprint in South Africa,” noted Tollman.

“Our aim is to have a national representation, a vision we both share with BASF and are excited that we will now be taking R-M® into other African countries as well,” added John Maroun, Group CEO of RSB Autogroup.

In line with BASF’s mantra on skills development, RSB is well on-board with the global company. Their customers are regularly scheduled for training sessions at the Refinish Competence training Centre which was established in 2014. RSB is also heavily involved with the biennial R-M® International Best Painter Competition; a spray painting competition aimed to promote young talent in the industry across the world. With a shortage of skilled workforce, skills upliftment through training, forms an integral part of the nominated BASF distributor.

Getting the right people on board has also contributed to RSB’s success as the company is guaranteed to stay on course so long it has the right captain and crew running the ship. “We have the same leadership team from the day we started; a team that understands and shares the same values of our organisation,” concluded Maroun.