SA Profile spoke to Charlotte Hambly Nuss, Founder and Managing Director of OTI PetroSmart
who has been at the helm of the business since its establishment in 2000
Tell us more about the company and your role as Managing Director?
OTI PetroSmart is a leading provider of integrated fuel management solutions
based on Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI). Products include configurable
hardware, software applications and support services.
I am a qualified attorney by profession. Whilst being responsible for the daily
operational and financial management of the business, I also lead the business
development efforts from both a commercial and technical perspective.
I conceptualized and successfully executed a strategic vision that resulted in OTI
PetroSmart’s appointment as OTI’s Global VAR for the petroleum product line.
How would you describe OTI PetroSmart’s scope of work?
We automate, simplify and secure the refueling and payment process through
the use of our AVI solution – EasyFuelPlus – across a range of industries,
including the retail, commercial, industrial and mining sectors. Our solutions
help reduce operational expenditure by eliminating manual processes, as well
as by providing quality data that not only enables the effective management of
fuel consumption, but also helps to prevent fraud
What are your values as a company leader and
how do you ensure these values are upheld by employees?
Hard work, energy, enthusiasm, accountability, excellence, efficiency,
teamwork, and innovation. I aim to instill these attributes and values by “walking the talk” and leading by
What is the company’s vision for the near future?
Over the next three years, we intend to target six of the top 10 country market
by a business vehicle in use, potential transactions, and volume. We view the
following as effective methods to grow the business quickly and effectively
• Support strategic partnerships with tools to sell and support products and
• Effectively communicate market position as a full-service provider and
• Use programmes such as “shared risk models” and “revenue sharing
• Service bundling.
• Potential of adding sales and support offices in major markets to support sales
• Expansion into the retail segment
Can you tell us about some risks you have taken and the results?
introducing shared risk business models. Whilst you make less
money at the outset of a deal, you generate far more revenue over time
and these models have ensured that our objectives are aligned with those of our customers.
Providing certain services, such as key account management and bureau services – at no cost initially –
demonstrate the value proposition. This paid off as today we generate significant monthly revenues from the
provision of these services. Introducing new products as an extension of our core value
proposition. I conceptualized the introduction of a complete packaged
home base and mobile browser solutions in conjunction with a bundled
service offering to enable OTI PetroSmart to sell automation solutions;
AVI and tank gauging systems directly wholesalers and bulk consumers of fuel. This was a gamble initially
but has paid dividends and served to entrench our position in the market.
What are your long-term goals for the business
and how do you plan to achieve them?
AVI solutions are firmly emerging as either a complementary form factor or, in
certain cases, as the complete replacement for traditional fuel cards in both the
commercial and retail fuelling sectors. EasyFuelPlus provides OTI PetroSmart’s
partners with numerous upfront and recurring revenue opportunities. We can
assist our partners to understand the market potential for AVI issuance and help
identify viable markets and sectors using accepted industry benchmarks and
We also assist our partners with building innovative and rewarding business models to suit specific markets and opportunities
How would you describe your top attributes as a successful leader?
I am a proactive, results-driven entrepreneurial style leader with a successful
background in achieving business growth through in-depth product knowledge,
focused partner and customer relationships and a vision for new technical and
Whilst my key responsibilities are of a corporate and commercial nature, my
understanding of the underlying technology platforms, interfaces and overall
solution architecture has proven to be invaluable to me. It is impossible to
effectively manage technology and solution focused business unless you have
a clear understanding of the product offering and how all the pieces of the
puzzle ft together.
This understanding has helped me to navigate complex technical discussions
to achieve the desired commercial results. My product knowledge has also
enabled me to source products to extend our core value proposition and to
develop new business models and service offerings for our customers.
Success requires hard work; tenacity and discipline. As a result of the extensive
the experience I have gained in the industry I have been able to develop a multi
disciplinary skill set, strong leadership, interpersonal and communication skills.
My key strengths include product management, negotiation, contract drafting
and strategic account management.
Tell us more about the demand and supply
of your product and services within your industry?
With more than 220 million corporate ﬂeet vehicles inviable
markets globally, the potential AVI market is very significant and offers
the potential for long term growth in revenues. AVI solution providers
are uniquely positioned to benefit from three strands of the fuel card value chain:
1. Acceptance (site equipment)
2. Issuance (tags and vehicle
3. Software services
Rising fuel costs and the need for
increased business transparency will
drive continued implementation and
What challenges is the company facing
and what measures do you have in place to overcome these?
Whilst our strategic partners are
well positioned in certain markets, they do not always have the desired
focus when it comes to promoting our product suite. This requires us
to either work more closely with the relevant sales teams and distribution
channels or re-visit our approach to the market and engage directly with
potential end customers.
How does OTI PetroSmart maintain
its integrity and loyalty to its customers?
OTI PetroSmart is led by highly qualified and experienced executives,
supported by a focused team with extensive experience in business
development, account management, hardware engineering, software
development, technical support and the deployment of retail and commercial
fuelling technologies. With our combined knowledge and expertise,
we are able to support our direct customers, global strategic partners
and valued distributors while identifying opportunities and implementing
solutions that deliver real value.
How would you describe the company’s strategic
vision and mission over the next five years?
Oil companies view fuel card programmes (including AVI) as strategic relationship tools.
Such programmes are often referred to as “marketing technology” as they enable
the retailer to establish a direct commercial relationship with the customer to facilitate the sale of fuel via a
differentiated, a secure method of payment.
Basic fuel card offerings are being enhanced to provide commercial ﬂeet
customers with more security, more convenience, telematics, vehicle location
and web-based services.
AVI solutions are emerging as a complementary form factor or in certain cases
as a replacement for traditional fuel cards. AVI can easily be implemented into
existing fuel card programmes.
AVI also facilitates a completely frictionless refueling experience for heavy
and light ﬂeet customers and consumers.
The success of PetroSmart is rooted in our ability to develop a network of
distribution partners across the fuel value added ecosphere with the ability to
drive adoption in major markets.
Our longer-term goal is to permanently transform the refueling experience
across industry verticals.
1. What short to medium-term future do you foresee
in your industry?
The rising fuel price and other road taxes have put pressure on the petroleum
industry. Even if fuel is a necessity and its demand relatively inﬂexible, the price
increases have slowed demand. Many industries are dependent on petroleum
products and the expected growth in the South African economy would
translate into similar levels of growth for the fuel industry.
Combined petrol and diesel consumption figures for South Africa are above
20 billion a year and there are approximately 4 600 service stations in South
Fleet management is a very large business in South Africa, especially
related to freighting and transport. Almost all goods transported in South
Africa is transported by road due to the weak rail infrastructure. Most of the
transport is undertaken by large freighting and logistics companies with
sizeable ﬂeets of vehicles that stand to eliminate fraud when using AVI
B2C initiatives will also serve to drive the establishment of an AVI acceptance
2. Any advice to other leaders?
You need to be passionate and driven to achieve your goals. Don’t
become despondent when things don’t go your way – it is critical to ensure
that your team remains positive and enthusiastic. Keep doing the work and
delivering on your value proposition; focus on your customers and the rest will