PVC veteran Peter Ker-Fox teams up with Agrico to open up new markets for PVC pipe

Grethe Bestbier

A veteran of the PVC industry, Peter Ker-Fox sold his first PVC pipe in the 1990s. Since then he has played major sales and marketing roles in some of the industry’s best-known suppliers of PVC, HDPE, flexible hose and other piping solutions. In January 2022 he joined the Agrico team to help it serve a broader market.

His experience in plastic products and solutions will prove valuable to customers of Agrico, believes Agrico managing director Walter Andrag. 

“Peter knows almost everyone in the industry. He has built a career out of making sure that the needs of his customers are met. I look forward to working with him to help Agrico create more value for customers,” says Walter.  

Leveraging existing assets

Agrico currently produces and sells more than 2 000 km of PVC pipe per year, and its PVC factory in Bellville has spare capacity to produce more. 

“From an economies of scale perspective, if you look at our stock holding currently and the market that we are servicing, our branches are mainly serving end-customers in the agricultural market,” says Peter.

According to Peter, entering other sectors beyond the irrigation sector is critical to fully leveraging the capabilities of the plant. 

“At the end of the day, it’s a question of growth. Agrico is seen as an irrigation company, but its products can also serve other markets. We are well-positioned to serve markets such as the industrial and civil markets on top of the irrigation market.”

In pursuit of better addressing the needs of these markets, two strategic changes have already been made: Agrico PVC pipes have undergone a colour change to the industry-standard blue, and are now certified by South African Technical Auditing Services (SATAS) to comply with the respective SANS-standards.

The value of other irrigation firms

Another step towards serving more customers will be offering Agrico pipes to other irrigation firms. It is necessary to explore ways in which Agrico can create value for irrigation customers and dealers, also when the end-customer is not doing business with an Agrico branch.

“I want to open up the playing field. I don’t want Agrico to lose the opportunity of supplying these firms, purely because an end-customer chooses not to do business with an Agrico branch,” he explains. “A farmer doing business with another irrigation supplier should still have access to high-quality well-priced PVC pipe.”

Service and relationships

A major challenge, Peter says, will be to win the trust of these irrigation resellers. Beyond price, service and relationships are also critical, Peter believes. 

“We understand that Agrico can only service a small part of the irrigation market directly. There’s a lot to be gained by also serving other irrigation firms, and we need to earn their trust and support.”

“I’ve spent 20 odd years building relationships with a lot of independent irrigation design companies, civil contractors and civil merchants, and I think my success has come from being honest and truthful in a very trying market where everyone’s trying to win orders.”

 

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