Welcome once again to our Introducing Series, where this time we hear from Lincoln Muniz, Sales Manager for Brazil, who started his career with the organisation in 1994. In what Lincoln reports to be an incredibly challenging market to crack, how has he helped take the Gantrex brand from newcomer to market leader?
Lincoln Muniz – Quick Facts
Position: Sales Manager – Brazil
Industry Experience: 47 industry experience, with more than 2 decades at Gantrex focusing on infrastructure projects such as ports, shipyards, mining and power.
Responsibility: Sales management and responsibility for the Brazilian market.
Guiding Principle: Know the way. Go the way. Show the way.
Lincoln, how did your career with Gantrex first come about ?
Having worked in industry for 21 years, I had built a successful career in sales, establishing strong relationships with clients and partners and developing my professional reputation within Brazil. In August 1994, I received a direct call from Houston, Texas, from the Gantrex General Manager for Latin America, who asked if I would like to represent the Gantrex brand in Brazil. It transpires that my name was recommended to him for the position, and just a few days later, I was on board as the face of Gantrex for the region. Since that time, it has been my responsibility to build our presence throughout Brazil, working closely with main consultants, customers and crane manufacturers and overcome the very real challenges that breaking into this market has presented.
What specific challenges ?
The challenges that I faced within this role were two-fold. Firstly, I had to learn about the new technology that Gantrex could provide, and then sell this into a market that didn’t instantly believe it needed it. When I started as an agent for Gantex in 1994, the Brazilian market was still very conservative compared to other parts of the world, and in effect the Gantrex offer was not something that was seen as necessary. People did not understand the performance benefits that our solutions could offer and nor did they think that they needed them. The culture within Brazil was entirely derived from the railroad market, where factors such as work cycles and lateral load were not considered to be important. Businesses did not like change. And that was what I had to convince them to do.
And the answer?
Dedication, persistence and a lot of hard work. From the point where I started in 1994, really it took another 2 years before we secured our first purchase order. I will always remember this first win as it was for one of the largest steel mill groups in Brazil – the Gerdau Group. Following many, many meetings and presentations we eventually secured the contract, on the agreement that if the client was dissatisfied with any part of our delivery they would not pay. A risky strategy, but one I knew would pay off thanks to the quality, proven performance and technical superiority of our products. The Gerdau Group remain one of our most important clients today, and have as a group, adopted our rail fastening systems as standard throughout Brazil, LATAM and the USA.
Tell us about some of the recent projects you have worked on.
We have been working on some incredible projects. One of the most notable is our involvement with the first Nuclear Shipyard built in Brazil where we supplied 5km of Gantrex rail and accessories. We came head to head with a range of local suppliers to secure this contract. Also, the Gantrex team has been selected as partners for the refurbishment and expansion of Santos Brasil Terminal, the largest private terminal in the biggest Latin American Port in São Paulo State.
You’ve seen great success developing the market. How has your own role developed alongside this ?
I originally came on board as an exclusive agent in 1994. Then, 3 years later in 1997, having proven my abilities in shaping the sales operation across the territory, I took over as Regional Manager for Brazil, responsible for the development of the Gantrex operation throughout the country. Now, 23 years later, I am proud and delighted to say that we hold the position of market leader, working with key customers and contractors across multiple segments. With this I remain committed to developing long term relationships with my customers and colleagues throughout the operation.
What do you think good leadership looks like ?
There is a phrase that I think sums it up perfectly. He who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. And this isn’t just the case for leadership within an organisation. It’s a strict guiding principle that I follow to build trust amongst my customers. Confidence is absolutely key if you are looking to ask people to follow you. Whether that is as a Manager or as a Sales Manager to a potenital customer. You must demonstrate that you have confidence in your decisions, your suggestions and your products. If a customer, or colleague doesn’t feel that they can trust you, then they will not invest in you. They won’t invest time or money. I like to think that trust is a key trait that people know me for.
And what about quality ?
Again, essential. Quality builds confidence. And confidence builds trust. Everything starts with quality, and without it, nothing else can work. This has been a real advantage for us too, especailly over local suppliers who simply cannot provide the quality tht we do. For example, our teams spent 3 years researching and specifying a crossover plus our regular rail fastening system for a nuclear shipyard in Brazil. No one else would have the resource or capacity to do this.
What’s next for your teams ?
We are working on a project for Portonave Terminal where we are looking to supply a 900m long TrenchLok cable protection system plus clips, pad, soleplate, rails and grout. So a true Gantrex system solution for the client. This is one of many new and exciting projects that we have lined up and I am looking forward to the unique challenges that each will bring and the brilliant, unique Gantrex solution that we will deliver.