Carlos Gonçalves is an emblematic figure in the GH branch office in Portugal. A sales representative since 2003, he is one of the architects of GH’s success in the country. And after all this time he continues to enjoy his work and celebrates each new crane he sells as if it were his first. We get to know him better in this interesting interview.
What did your training involve and where did you work before becoming part of the GH team in Portugal?
Although I’m Portuguese, my family emigrated to South Africa when I was young and that’s where I began my education. Interestingly, I started out in the arts since I initially studied Germanic languages. Before finishing, I went back to Portugal and started working in a Portuguese foundry as a sales representative. My knowledge of the German language was very helpful when it came to selling in Germany. And, in fact, twelve years later I went to work for a German-Swiss foundry. There I sold parts for a company that was a competitor of GH, and the knowledge I gained from this helped convince GH to appoint me to the sales position in the branch office in Portugal in 2003.
What was your first impression of GH?
My first impression was very positive. It seemed to be very much like a family company but at the same time highly professional. There’s a lot of respect for the workers and everyone gives you a great welcome. In my case, Víctor Guerra was a great help and a very important person when I started. At that time, we didn’t have the training groups that we have today, and he was in charge of training you and helping you with everything you needed.
“Víctor Guerra was a great help and a very important person when I started”
You arrived when the Portuguese branch office was just establishing itself. What were your goals?
From the moment we opened the branch office we were clear that we were looking to be market leaders. To achieve this we knew it was essential to have an installation and support team and a sales team. Thanks to this, together with the quality and competitive prices of GH, we immediately achieved very positive market acceptance and expanded the brand throughout the country.
What is the Portuguese market like? What do you think is the best thing about GH products?
In the past, what companies paid most attention to was the price. Today, luckily, they are more interested in other aspects such as quality and production times. At GH Portugal we have a greater production capacity than the competition. In fact, very often our customers can’t believe that we are so fast and efficient in terms of production times.
At the same time, Portugal has always been an exporter of moulds and tools for markets such as the German and US markets. They are very demanding markets, but the quality of our cranes means that we are up to the task.
How have you coped with the crises over recent years, first in 2008 and then the pandemic?
Despite the crises, since the crane is a product that can be used in many industries, we have always maintained very similar sales levels. Although one industry is in crisis, there will always be another that is not and that becomes a new opportunity for us. Also, fortunately, more and more companies in all industries are aware of the importance of a crane to improve their productivity.
The current pandemic has not affected us in terms of numbers either. One factor that has helped maintain those numbers is that we are now so well known. These days, it’s the companies that come looking for us and not the other way around.
“Despite the crises, since the crane is a product that can be used in many industries, we have always maintained very similar sales levels”
So, has the goal of being leaders been achieved? Who are your most important customers?
An example of GH’s growth over the years is the cranes installed in the Aveiro area, the third or fourth largest industrial district in the country. When I started there was only one GH crane installed in the entire district. Today, there are 154 cranes, compared with only one provided by the competition.
We have very important customers spread all over the country. As I said before, in Portugal the mould and tool industry stands out, but we also have important customers in other industries, such as granite and wind energy, for example.
And what is your goal for this year on a personal level?
I always like to sell a little more than the previous year, although it’s not always possible. In any case, my goal is always to continue maintaining the same sales levels. The truth is that I love selling cranes. That’s why, although I’ve been selling cranes for more than ten years, when I sell one I celebrate it as if it were the first crane I had ever sold in my life. And if I don’t, I’m not happy. My family at home always tells me to stop talking about cranes – I’m passionate about my work!
“Although I’ve been in this job for more than ten years, when I sell a crane I celebrate it as if it were the first crane I had ever sold in my life”
Finally, apart from sales, what would you highlight about all these years at GH?
The working relationships with my colleagues and with the people who work at GH in Spain. Speaking as someone who is Portuguese, you always have doubts about starting to work for a company that’s not from your country, but I immediately realised that at GH they are people of their word and with great human qualities. That’s why so many members of staff have been working for them for so long.