Soilmec, Italy

Designs, manufactures, and distributes equipment for the ground engineering industry. The company’s equipment is used to help build bridges, viaducts, motorways, tunnels, underground lines, railways, and buildings of all types. Their mission is to think ahead, reach new horizons, and invent products for as yet undiscovered markets by embracing enthralling innovation challenges with a good measure of risk and adventure.

Soilmec facts

  • About Soilmec
    Founded in 1969 as part of Trevi Group and active in 90 countries.
  • Market leader
    Market leader in drilling and foundation equipment for the ground engineering industry.
  • Partnership
    Partnership with DLL since 2010.

Co-creating markets: Leasing in Asia

Imagine you’re an ambitious professional in China. You’ve always dreamed of owning your own high-speed railway construction business. You have all the skills required, and you’re motivated to make a better future for yourself and your family. But you lack the money or resources to start.

In China's vast but still young economy, such would be entrepreneurs are common. In fact, they even have a name: 'civil bosses'. Giuliano Ghirardelli, the Shanghai-based MD of Italian foundation drilling equipment manufacturer Soilmec, knows this only too well - civil bosses are an important target market for his company. But with Soilmec enjoying a longstanding partnership with DLL, you'd imagine that arranging financing would be easy: The civil boss leases his Soilmec equipment from DLL and away you go. Not quite.

Convincing the skeptics

"The whole concept of operational leases is very new here," explains Giuliano. "Soilmec and DLL have more or less pioneered the leasing concept in the Chinese construction industry. In the beginning, customers were skeptical about leasing. They were scared of being cheated or paying too much interest." To overcome this, DLL and Soilmec have spent the last few years going out to meet potential customers. "We always speak ‘one language’, together helping the customer identify the best solution for them technologically and financially. And we always convey the same feeling: trust in us," says Giuliano.

In trust we trust

In effect it has been an exercise in thought leadership. A successful one, because the initial skepticism has been largely overcome. In part this is because their Chinese clients have been quick to understand the advantages of leasing. But Guiliano believes it is also because they have seen that the relationship between Soilmec and DLL is built on trust, and that this has helped them trust both the vendor partners and the concept. The two companies have built on their achievements in China to enter Australia, Malaysia, and other Pacific and South-East Asian markets. Giuliano says DLL’s skill in gauging local market need for, and openness to different financial instruments has helped enormously. For their part, Soilmec tries to go beyond simply selling machinery to become a ‘solution provider’ that supports customers with pragmatic technological answers and helps them set up the job site.

Collaboration before costs

While Soilmec and DLL share costs, risks, and market intelligence, the flourishing collaboration goes deeper than just offering good service and sharing mutual commercial interests. Giuliano gives an example he says typifies the relationship. “We had a customer who stopped paying. DLL decided to take back the machine and asked us to help rescue it. We provided an engineer and an operator, and two days later it was in our workshop. Together with DLL we started remarketing it and within three weeks had sold it to another customer. Later we shared the margins with DLL, but at no point during those three weeks was there any discussion of costs, reimbursement or whatever. That’s what I call an example of real cooperation and trust.” Giuliano stresses that you don’t reach that level of trust without being open with one another. “Our relationship with DLL is based on mutual respect and responsibility. That means we’re not afraid to tell one another how we see things. To be frank with your partner sometimes means helping – not forcing – them to take that final decision.”

Confucian trading

Returning to China, Giuliano thinks there may be another reason why his Chinese clients have been so impressed by the partnership between Soilmec and DLL. "Our Chinese friends have a concept they call ‘Confucian trading’. This is the belief, which I share, that it isn’t necessary for one party to prevail over or cheat the other. Respect, sincerity, ethics are concepts at the base of real cooperation, and real cooperation leads to mutual benefit. I see this Confucian trading mentality in DLL’s approach, in good and bad times."

Giuliano Ghirardelli

Managing Director of Soilmec

''Respect, sincerity, ethics are concepts at the base of real cooperation, and real cooperation in turn leads to mutual benefit.''