Leaders Forum: Greg Hill, Makita Australia

Industry leaders share their plans and predictions on the year ahead.

How was 2019 for Makita Australia? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

Overall 2019 was a great year for Makita. We released our 18V Brushless stick vacuum range in June which has provided the market with high performing, commercially durable stick vacuums which previously haven’t been available.

We enjoyed continued growth across our commercial cleaning distributor network, primarily through events like the ISSA Expo but also by engaging directly with consumers and establishing new supply chains to handle the demand. Particularly well performing was our LXT (Lithium eXtreme Technology) Power Garden range which saw significant growth against 2018.

What will be the immediate focus for Makita in 2020?

We have always been of the belief whether it’s a vacuum, chainsaw or a drill, the most effective way to sell Makita is to get it in the consumers’ hands so they can see it in action. Our national business development team is focused on engaging with our distributor network and directly with target consumers providing demonstrations, trials and product support to achieve the ideal solution for their application.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for Makita looking ahead to 2020?

We are still relatively new to the commercial cleaning industry, the main challenge for Makita is remaining front of mind through all stages of the consumers decision making process. Through consistent advertising and customer engagement we are ensuring that when the process begins, consumers will include Makita when looking for solutions.

By doing this effectively, it will ensure we are in the right position to capitalise on the huge amount of opportunities available. We are excited about the product releases that are planned for 2020 across both our 18V LXT and newly announced 40V Max XGT platforms. Products that will expand our offer for interior cleaning services but will also expand our opportunities further into washroom, hospitality and residential cleaning services.

Have you noticed any changes in customer behaviour in 2019? How have you adapted the offering to meet these changes?

Customers are becoming more receptive to the change to cordless. There are several reasons driving this change, primarily the increased efficiency provided by not having to unwind, plug in and manoeuvre a power lead around as well as significantly reducing the lead replacement and tagging costs associated with 240V equipment.

Inherent in this change is the resulting safety by removing trip hazards from the power lead. We have tailored our offer to educate our customers not only about the products, but also on the benefits of our LXT system.

A cordless product is only as good as the batteries and chargers that drive it and with 15 years behind the 18V LXT platform, we have a solid base to develop more products that will meet the high demands of commercial cleaners and facilities maintenance staff.

Have you noticed any trends in 2019? Do you expect those trends to continue into 2020?

Customers are becoming more aware of the issues related to having too much weight in a product. In some cases, a few 100g can be the difference in deciding one product over another, particularly for handheld products like stick vacuums and blowers.

This will continue to be a factor in the decision-making process and as OHS requirements continue to dictate the specifications of products; we will see more products become compact.

Is there a message you would like to share with the industry?

Makita is committed to development in battery, charger and brushless motor technology. Expect to see Makita continue to develop our existing product line-up as well as deliver new market leading products to service a wider range of applications and customers.

Read INCLEAN’s inaugural Industry Leaders Forum Report in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

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