Seeking Greater Positioning Through Customer ServiceWed, 01/18/2017 - 14:48
The old saying “lo barato sale caro” (the cheaper option turns out to be expensive) has been felt more and more in the oil and gas sector in recent years. As oil prices drop, operators are trying to drive down costs and often end up choosing the least expensive option, which can turn out to be costlier due to higher maintenance costs and increased downtime.
Héctor Domínguez, Director General of SAMSON Control, believes there are also occasions where too much investment is destined for a product that can be obtained at a lower cost and work just as well. “It is a fine balance,” he says. When SAMSON presents a product to its customers it is backed by a careful analysis of what tangible benefits the product can offer. However, problems can arise when a customer insists on an specific component despite SAMSON’s recommendations. “On occasion, we have refused to sell a product because we know this will not be the most efficient option,” Domínguez says. This expertise is a reflection on the company and is an important boost to the reputation of a global firm like SAMSON, he adds.
As SAMSON moves to offer more personalized and tailored services, Domínguez says that companies sometimes overlook crucial aspects. “Many companies do not offer guarantees and simply act as equipment suppliers,” he says. “A company cannot just supply a component and abandon the customer when technical difficulties arise.” Even for a company with the most advanced products and lowest prices, this attitude can close a great deal of doors in the industry, especially in Mexico. “This kind of support should not be seen as added value but as mandatory,” he says
Having worked with companies like ICA Fluor, Petrobras and PEMEX, SAMSON draws on its local and international knowledge to provide a holistic service to clients. But although the company has a breadth of experience in chemicals and petrochemicals with clients such as BASF, Bayer and Henkel, Domínguez admits that when it comes to refining and upstream, US and UK EPC companies can often overshadow a lesser-known company like SAMSON.
“Traditionally SAMSON has not been positioned in the oil and gas sector,” says Domínguez. “In 2000, our products were not positioned in the refining sector and much less in upstream.” After modifying the R&D vision at the company’s headquarters in Germany, it began to re-evaluate its positioning and tried to crack the oil and gas market.
Domínguez does not expect a smooth road ahead for SAMSON because it is not characterized as one of the big oil and gas players. Although the company has a great deal of ground to cover in Mexico, with 42 subsidiaries and a range of brands including Vetek, Pfeiffer and Longe, Domínguez believes it may not be long before the SAMSON name becomes more prominent in oil and gas and eventually makes its way into PEMEX’s list of preferred vendors, an essential step for any company willing to do business with Mexico’s oil and gas giant.
A SAMSON Group subsidiary, Ringo Válvulas, has already made it and has attracted much more brand recognition. Ringo Válvulas was acquired three years ago in Hermosillo and has vast experience in upstream and midstream. “I am optimistic the SAMSON line can also achieve the same level of renown,” says Domínguez. “In our strategy, providing necessary technical support is priority number one.”
SAMSON will look to the advantages of its products to gain market growth. Its products, known as eccentric shutter valves, differentiate from the competition by their internal construction and size. “There are so many different valves for so many different applications so these valves have a niche application,” Domínguez says. The large, 16-20 inch valves can be used for certain functions required by PEMEX. “The NOC uses a very expensive valve almost double the price of ours,” he says. “We offer half the price, half the weight and excellent functionality.” He also foresees a market for the SAMSON valve in electric systems for offshore platforms.
Despite the challenges ahead, Domínguez remains optimistic. “I am 100 percent sure that if we can negotiate these tough times, we can emerge as one of the future industry leaders.”