Industry Leaders Forum: Prue Martinotti, Co-CEO – SPITWATER (OTTICO Equipment)

There is always opportunity in knowing your customers.

How was 2023 for SPITWATER? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

2023 has been a year of adjustment post-COVID where the factory and distributors have pivoted and embraced a new set of ‘rules’ that seem to be changing frequently – a new ‘normal.’

Previously unpredictable supply chain has stabilised but there are still plenty of challenges with global price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations and labour and skills shortages, both in the capital cities and regional areas, affecting everyone.

Despite this, we have been able to attract and add muscle power to our teams and the fresh eyes, ideas, experience, and perspectives are bringing positive results.

In the product area, some of the projects we have been working on are being realised now, such as the launch of the new brand name VACSTORM for our floor cleaner product offering as shown in this edition, and others will be introduced to the market in 2024.

What are the company’s main priorities for 2024?

Alignment and continued support and growth of our teams, release of new products into the market, increased technology, and enhancement of solutions to our customers.

How does SPITWATER plan to adapt and innovate this year to meet the evolving needs and expectations of customers?

By listening and talking to our customers, business partners and teams. Knowing and understanding their needs, pain points and jobs to be done. Looking outside of the square and thinking and acting smart.

What are currently the most significant opportunities and challenges in the industry?

There is always opportunity in knowing your customers. Identifying and discovering their jobs to be done and in the process, uncovering new markets and adopting new technologies. Adapting to the changing needs of customers.

The rise of cheap, unsupported, imported product has been a challenge for our sales teams at times. People challenges and adapting to the work-life integration expectations of a new generation within our workforces has been an opportunity for us to learn and understand what is important to them.

How can the industry leverage or address these opportunities and challenges?

Industry can back businesses with local investment in people, product, and infrastructure. Knowing and supporting who is contributing socially and economically.

There are government initiatives to increase migration over the next five years to boost the work force in Australia, but this has significant challenges through housing shortages and other factors. It’s a complex issue.

Industry can invest, as we are, in training internally and externally. Identifying and upskilling talent within our own teams. Good for our people and good for business

What do you expect to be the big trends of 2024?

A push towards having a positive impact on the environment. Noise, emissions, pollution, safety. Robotics, self-propelled units in the floor care division especially.

Are there any key sustainability commitments/targets Spitwater has made for 2024?

Any designs created at the factory and subsequent new products are required to pass sustainability criteria before they are approved for production. The factory installed solar earlier this year and its upcycling and recycling programs are well developed internally, and with various business partners in our local area and beyond.

Our distributors also have programs in place including breaking down and recycling of materials and components on traded or end of service life product.

What is your leadership philosophy?

I am still growing as a leader and continue to learn every day from the brilliant people and teachers I am surrounded by and have had the opportunity and good fortune to encounter along the way.

My philosophy is to lead by example; to know, listen to and care for our people (our largest asset) and the business; to be proud of what we do for ourselves, society, the economy and the environment; to do, and encourage excellent work always; to be optimistic and fearless in the face of challenge; that it is okay to fail but fail fast!

Do you have a message for the industry?

Support Australian manufacturers wherever possible and to consider SPITWATER for your cleaning solutions.

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