This month we're hearing from Gary & Dustin who have made time from their busy schedules to tell us about their roles at Autoworld being in charge of the Mercury Marine engine division. We asked them some questions and this is what they had to say:
Q. What is your role at Autoworld?
Gary: I'm the Technical Manager at Autoworld. I'm usually based at the Marine Department at Autoworld Downtown in Lusaka and also often go out into the field servicing units for the lodges.
Dustin: I'm a Marine Technician at Autoworld and my role is mainly based out in the field servicing units and helping our Mercury Marine clients' engines remain compliant with engine warranty.
Q. Why is there a need to have mobile marine technicians?
Dustin: Some of our clients are remotely based such as lodges, marine police and Department of Fisheries and their units are often operating at full capacity, which leaves them no time to bring their engines into the Marine Deparment in Lusaka for servicing. In order to comply with the Mercury warranty it is necessary for engines to be serviced at regular intervals and at Autoworld we want to go that extra mile to ensure that we are able to offer this reliable back up service. We're not just interested in selling engines, we want to ensure that our customers have the best possible after service in order to optimise their engine performance.
Q. What areas of the country do your cover?
Gary: Between 3 to 4 times a year we go to the Lower Zambezi, Kafue National Park, Siavonga, Livingstone to Kazungula and Lake Tanganyika. Length of trips vary between 2 days and 5 days depending on demand and travel time.
Dustin: We've also been know to do one off trips when a client has had an emergency. Most of these remote clients of ours are also service based so we understand the importance of their need to offer their clients an exceptional experience.
Q: How do you travel to the remote areas?
Dustin: We tow a fully loaded service boat filled with as many spares and tools as we can carry. We try to cover as many eventualities as we can so we're usually pretty loaded. When traveling to the Lower Zambezi for instance, we tow the boat as far as Chirundu and then launch and motor down the river to the different lodges.
Gary: Lake Tanganyika is the longest and toughest journey that we do which entails about 400km of dirt road and then a 3 hour boat ride from Mpulungu to the lodges.
Q: What sort of work do you do?
Dustin: On most visits to lodges we carry out a service on the engine ensuring that the unit is operating as it should be and also advise on care and maintenance.
Q: What training have you both received to make you a qualified Mercury Marine Technician?
Gary: We have both traveled abroad several times to Dubai and Belgium where Mercury Marine carry out their technician training. In between international training trips we receive emails from Mercury Marine with the latest developments and ways that dealers have overcome any issues with units to ensure that we constantly stay on top of our game.
Dustin: Occasionally we have representatives from Mercury Marine come to our premises to carry out training as well.
Q: It sounds like a challenging role, do you have any tales to share?
Gary: Lots! On one occasion we were carrying out 3 installations at Chiawa Camp on the Lower Zambezi and were on our way back to Chirundu when we found one of our clients waiting for us in his boat in the middle of the river. He wanted us to service one of his engines and was waiting to catch us on our way back to Lusaka. It was getting dark by the time we finished and started heading back, so we took a short cut behind Kanyemba Island, but hit a sand bank. About 50 meteres away was the biggest croc I've ever seen and he looked really hungry. We had no time to waste so with the engine still running my colleague and I jumped out of the boat and managed to lift the boat in record time. By the time we got back to the vehicle it was 8pm and dark. Just as we docked the boat the fuel ran out. That was a close call.
Q: Yikes, that WAS a close call! Do you have any more?
Gary: We had a new client who had just bought an engine. I woke up on Sunday morning to find 10 messages on my phone from the client. His boat wouldn't start and he had clients arriving so he needed us to make an urgent trip to him in the Lower Zambezi. By the time I got there it was 4pm and the boat was fixed by 6pm and it was pitch dark. I had to get back to Lusaka that night because I had the keys to open the workshop the next morning. The client offered us one of his guides to drive us back in the boat to our car. It had taken us 2.5 hours boat ride to get to the camp and on our way back it took us 1.5 hours - top speed and in the pitch dark, zigzagging between sandbanks from the Zambian side of the river to the Zimbabwean river. It was the scariest experience of my life! In the end I sat on the floor of the boat facing backwards in the hope that would keep me safe if we hit a sandbank at top speed. It was only when we arrived back at the vehicle that I realised we had been driven by one of the most successful poachers who was now a reformed game guide. That was one journey to remember...
So there you have it. When we say we're committed to offering our clients the best possible after sales service on our Mercury engines you can believe us!
If you are interested in purchasing an engine or want to enquire about our Mercury Marine after sales service please contact Craig on firstname.lastname@example.org.