Martin Gwada
Martin Gwada
Martin Gwada

The man who loves technical challenges

Even as a school child, Martin Gwada always enjoyed a challenge that would test his technical aptitude, a trait that was encouraged by his family, teachers and friends.
Today, as group power projects manager for Davis & Shirtliff (D&S), a major supplier of Perkins-powered water and electric power systems in East Africa, he is a key player in company programmes providing sustainable solutions for communities in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
“I spend most of my time offering support on generators,” he explains, “and I find it quite fulfilling because each problem is unique in its own way and puts my ability to understand a problem and figure out a solution to the test. One of our key values at D&S is ‘Altiora Peto,’ a Latin phrase that means ‘I seek higher things’ and it’s gratifying when my experience helps improve our products or resolve an issue for our customers.”

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A collabrorative approach

Electric power generation is a key segment for D&S. Martin’s responsibilities cover the full range of tasks from equipment sizing and installation to customer training and coordinating service and maintenance contracts. The East African market is very competitive with a number of European and Chinese manufacturers offering products of comparable quality, but Perkins stands out and is the company’s preferred engine for a number of reasons.

“We purchase generator sets for many of our Dayliff brand products from Jubaili Brothers, a Lebanese company with coverage in the Middle East, Africa and Asia,” Martin said. “They’re all powered by Perkins diesel engines because Perkins is a well-established brand in our region, and their proven reliability makes them the engine of choice by many of our customers.

“Quality, of course, is one of our key values and every product we offer is carefully selected from world- leading manufacturers to ensure that it is fit-for-purpose as well as delivering value, reliability and efficiency. The Perkins-powered Jubaili generators fit all these attributes which is a key reason the collaboration continues. We also enjoy a good business relationship with Jubaili who offer quick delivery time, good technical and warranty support and favourable payment terms.”

The relationship between D&S, Jubaili and Perkins has grown over the years and is stronger today than when the collaboration began. One of the major reasons is that Jubaili’s ability to draw on their large stock of Perkins engines and parts enables them to respond very quickly to D&S customer needs.


“I look forward to making a meaningful contribution in my work because by doing so I impact other people’s lives in a positive way.”

- Martin Gwada


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Meaningful contribution

Each workday presents Martin with a range of familiar, and some unfamiliar, challenges that include dealing with tight delivery schedules, the logistics of delivering equipment to often remote work sites and the need to work at odd hours to minimise local disruptions while equipment is installed. Plus, of course, overcoming price competition from other vendors. But, with the challenges come rewards.

“I look forward to making a meaningful contribution in my work because by doing so I impact other people’s lives in a positive way,” he says. “D&S is driven by a strong desire to improve people’s lives by providing water and energy solutions across Africa. I feel greatly honoured to be part of such a well-intentioned team and I derive my strength to face each and every day from this knowledge.”

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What does the future hold?

Looking to the future, Martin sees a couple of emerging trends that will test him, his company’s and their suppliers’ ability to innovate and respond.

The first of these is the proliferation of low-cost generator sets in the sub 20 kVA power range. The second is a combination of the strong emergence of alternative and environmentally friendly technologies, increased investment in improved mains power generation and initiatives such as regional power pools all of which are reducing reliance on generators across the board. 

“We are already witnessing this shift with a huge chunk of previously generator-dominated applications now being taken away by solar solutions,” Martin said. “My challenge is to ensure sustained growth of the generator business. The fact that D&S is a respected company and the brand is trusted by many within our market gives us an edge and we also derive much benefit from our large distribution network that ensures ready availability of after sales support across all of our markets.”

Martin grew up embracing technical challenges and the satisfaction of overcoming them has not abated. His job at D&S and his relationship with Jubaili and Perkins provide ample opportunity to develop unique solutions to customer problems that require clear understanding of complex issues to develop practical and cost-effective solutions.

A future filled with new technical challenges is something he looks forward to with enthusiasm.

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