Staying Ahead of the Competition

Team Systems

Team Systems supplies an impressive roster of big name clients with a broad range of locally manufactured and imported materials handling equipment including trolleys, safety cages, and handtrucks. Manufacturing operations are based in Dandenong, Victoria, and the company boasts branch offices in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

The team has the entire continent covered when it comes to distribution; outside of its own operations around Australia it has representative agents strategically placed in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania to best serve the company’s far flung clients.

In fact, the company’s wide geographic reach is one of the factors that sets it apart from the competition. “What makes us different to everyone else is that we have many locations all around Australia,” National Sales Manager Ray Cieri reports. “Many of our accounts are big, multinational companies, and their preference is to have pick-up points all over Australia. That’s why they prefer to have dealings with us; they can pick up our stock out of Brisbane or out of Melbourne or Perth.”

Another great Team Systems advantage is the control that the company is able to maintain over its operations. “We import product, we manufacture product, and we hold key agencies in terms of distributing product,” Mr Cieri explains. “So you are buying from the right company – the company that controls product by importing and manufacturing or that has key agencies and agreements with people who do make it.”

Because Team Systems is hands-on across the entire chain, from factory to customer, the company is able to ensure the highest level of efficiency and quality. In fact, the entire company culture is geared toward delivering high quality product with reliable service. “Our company is built on honest promises. What we promise we adhere to and we deliver,” Mr Cieri reports. “Honesty, integrity, and respect – those are the three things that we focus on.”

Teams Systems also stays ahead of the competition by offering the widest product range available. “There are lots of competitors in our industry that have snapshots of our products,” Mr Cieri says. “But in terms of [having] an entire catalogue we are very unique. We can provide lots of solutions on all different levels.” With thousands of different industries in need of materials handling solutions, the product line has to be wide-ranging to meet every client’s needs. “The product range is very broad,” Mr Cieri points out. “There are products for thousands of different industries and we have over one thousand products available.”

Team Systems has begun to cover all budgets, as well, and the company will be launching a new range of entry level trolleys later this year. Until now, all Team Systems products were premium, and priced accordingly. “Now we are flipping the coin and having something at the other end,” Mr Cieri explains. “It opens up that other side of the world to us. Sometimes people just buy on price.”

The company also offers tailor-made product, which is yet another point of difference. Clients can come to Team Systems with a specific materials handling problem and the team is able to design and manufacture a solution designed just for their situation. “We offer start to finish solutions,” Mr Cieri summarises. “[There is] a lot of problem solving with our products.” For example, Team Systems produces specialised linen trolleys for several major companies in the linen industry, and the team also creates customised trolleys for major retailers like Bunnings and Myer for transporting product within their stores.

Team Systems has several key strategies that have helped the company skyrocket to the top of the industry since its inception in 1994. The first has been to stay ahead of the times. Originally, Team Systems was purely a manufacturing company. “It simply made metal product for the Australian market,” Mr Cieri explains. “But in the 90s, the big push came from Asia [and] manufacturing got absolutely dismantled in Australia. But we were good enough to jump on board and head over to China and rebuild that part of [the business] through alliances and partnerships with manufacturers there.”

The company kept a small manufacturing facility in Australia, however, so that it could still meet the demand for custom-made product. This facility is particularly important because it deals with volumes that are too small for Chinese manufacturers to accommodate. “So we still have that niche where if someone is only looking for 20 or 30 quantities we can still do them in-house. It makes us very unique.” Indeed, Team Systems offers the best of both worlds – the competitive pricing that comes with overseas manufacturing, along with the ability to fully customise small quantities of product.

In the 21st Century, staying ahead of the times requires a strong online presence, so the team has made that their newest priority. The company has a comprehensive website as well as five additional ecommerce websites so that anyone can buy directly online. Team Systems’ multiple warehouses and distribution points make it possible to quickly deliver the product to online customers all over Australia in the most economical way.

Another one of Team Systems’ most important strategies has been to keep a very heavy focus on sales and marketing. “Most of the operation is driven around sales,” Mr Cieri explains. In fact, the vast majority of the company’s 40 employees are fully devoted to marketing. The marketing team produces a comprehensive, 120 page catalogue every year, manages sales over the internet, and puts out special fliers to a hundred and fifty thousand customers twice a year.

Adapting to the times and keeping a strong focus on marketing has been the catalyst behind the company’s continued expansion. Most recently, Team Systems opened a new branch just south of Brisbane in Yatala, Queensland. As always, the move involved forward thinking and careful strategy. “It was set up purely to continue supplying our corporate accounts,” Mr Cieri explains. “We sat down with a lot of our corporate customers, and Brisbane and Queensland in general were referred to as the growth areas in their planning. So, to stay ahead of all that, we looked at our business plan and where our growth was going to come, and we decided that that site would be critical to our growth.”

The site is also well positioned to help supply resellers located throughout the state. Before the new branch opened, many of these resellers had to freight stock all the way from Melbourne to remote areas of northern Queensland. Obviously, freighting from the new location will save both time and money. And of course, the new branch will help attract more resellers within the Brisbane market. “It is an absolute winner,” Mr Cieri remarks.

Team Systems has been particularly focused on expansion during the past five years, and the new Queensland branch is actually the third addition during that timeframe. The first of these recent expansions was a new warehouse in Melbourne about 70km across town from the head office. The move was undertaken in order to better supply the entire city. In 2009, the company made an acquisition that brought the company into the West Australian market and added an office in Perth. Perhaps most remarkably, most of this expansion took place during the global financial crisis. “We didn’t take our foot off,” Mr Cieri says of the team’s strategy during the rocky economy. “We didn’t batten down at all. We continued to follow our five year plan. We continued to focus. We forgot about what the news was reporting. We concentrated on what we knew we were good at and what we were capable of – and we delivered. And our next five years is going to be rewarded because of the risk we took over the last five years.”

Indeed, the future looks extremely bright and the company’s phenomenal growth is slated to continue. “There is going to be more expansion over the next 24 months,” Mr Cieri reports. “And we are also looking outside of Australia for some projects. It is pretty exciting.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:28 AM AEDT