Interview with Adriaan Jooste, General Manager
Could you tell us more about the history of Duons Australia?
The origin of the company goes way back to post-war France and a company named TRT based in the South of France. Initially bought by Philipps and then by Alcatel-Lucent Technology, it later became part of SR Telecom, a Montreal-based company which had bought projects from Alcatel-Lucent and was providing infrastructure and support to the Telstra network in Australia.
Even though the company had headquarters in Canada, the technology actually has always come from France. Towards the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007, after 6 years operating in Australia, the company was sold again and became DUONS MCO PTY LTD, a subsidiary of Duons Group headquartered in Paris, France.
Duons France was founded in 1995 and was first involved in critical maintenance projects on nuclear power plants. Since then, Duons has delivered its expertise in complex technology development, distribution and support to some of the world’s largest companies and in industries as diverse as Transport, Aviation, Oil Production, Utilities (Electricity, etc), Telecommunications and Defence.
Can you describe the activities of Duons Australia?
For the past 8 years, we have been managing industrial electronic assets for various companies. For instance, what happens when an electronic-based product, like a mine site radio, an electronic control unit or critical communication equipment that is still being used in great number by the market, but new sales have dropped to the point where the original manufacturer no longer deems it profitable to support the product? This stage of the product lifecycle is called End-of-Life and that’s where Duons Australia steps in…
While the manufacturer moves on to new product development and deploys its expensive human resources into R&D, we support their clients who have significant investments in the existing technology and want to continue to use it because it is perfectly adequate for their needs. Both the customer and manufacturer are served because when the customer does upgrade, he is likely to remain brand loyal thanks to the support they have received and in the meantime they have preserved precious capital.
We also strike direct partnerships with manufacturers at the beginning of the deployment of a new technology, looking after their customers on their behalf. We take on product distribution, offer warranty, customer service and maintenance, which significantly lower the set-up cost for the manufacturer. This is a great service for French and European companies looking at developing their presence in the Oceania region.
Overall, we offer a complete range of ‘Reverse Logistics’ services, including Customer Service, Claims Processing, Return Goods Transportation, On-site Repair, Depot repair, Refurbishment, helping manufacturers and end-users to lengthen the life of products, sometimes for decades, and enabling them to save millions. This is our core activity.
Here in Australia our flagship client is Telstra. We support their wireless networks in the outback of Australia where our own network system, called “SWING” and “IRT” is in place. SWING and IRT take over when the fixed lines terminate and it enables tens of thousands of remotely located phone users’ access to Telstra services via radio and microwave communication. We maintain a comprehensive spare parts inventory and repair circuit boards and other parts of the system back to “As New” status as well as coordinating returns and the issuance of new parts. We have significantly reduced Telstra’s cost of platform support over the past five years.
Can you describe your personal background and role within Duons Australia?
I initially trained as an industrial control instrumentation technician through an apprenticeship with ESKOM, the largest South African electricity producer. After 7 years, I joined the Electronics Research and Development department of JASCO as a Senior Technician. This company specialised in Defence and Mining. In the mid 90’s, as funding dried up for Defence R&D, I joined the group's radio communications department and completed a course in management.
Moving on, I joined Lucent Technologies as a Telecom Engineer, where I worked on the deployment of DECT communications to rural communities. After completing the project, Lucent offered me the position of Technical Manager on the Telstra Project implemented by SR Telecom in Australia. As a result, my family and I settled in Brisbane in 2002. In 2008, a year after the company was bought by the Duons Group, I was offered the position of General Manager for Duons Australia.
My first objective was to expand the business from a project office to a commercial office and from a cost center to a profit center. The primary challenge was to increase the profitability of the company. Initially managing spares parts for Telstra, we set up a repair centre, rather than contracting out our repairs. It was faster and cheaper for Telstra to have us repair locally and the move secured a long-term relationship. Over time, the processes we have developed to support these activities have become some of the core skills we bring to the Oceania market and the industry.
For 6 years, we have developed a strong technical team across all technologies from radio right through to industrial electronics. We have quite successfully grown our core activity in Reverse and forward Logistics, with a strong focus on maintenance of legacy products. In the meantime, we have developed the distribution of new products, which now makes a significant contribution of our turnover.
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can FACCI help you achieve your objectives?
I see two areas of growth for our business. First, maintaining our core business in Reverse and Forward Logistics and expanding our cost-reducing services to the Resources sector, in the Mining, Oil and Gas and Utilities industries. Secondly, developing the sales and distribution of third party products that are aligned with our electronics support activities.
Our core activity of prolonging the life of industrial electronic-based products is totally in sync with today’s environmental concerns and we believe there will be more and more companies requiring our expertise in the future.
We look forward to the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce helping us meet more representatives of French electronics companies looking to do business in the Oceania region and requiring a forward or reverse logistics partner who understands the cultures of both regions. For those companies, we offer a reliable and skilled team, lower set-up and operating costs and a faster route to increased profits.
For more information, please visit Duons Australia's website: www.duons.com.au
Interview conducted on 10 June 2014 by Claire Dupré.
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