The largesse of the 1980s has given way to a more nuanced approach where reusing of materials as well as the use of second hand machinery is making big inroads on the manufacturing front and on a company’s bottom line. Return on capital, accurate costing and return on investment are key issues today. Companies such as GFP Machines, which specialises in refurbished second hand machinery, can play an active part in a company’s future growth. Says Gerhard van Nierkerk of GFP Machines, “Too often a new entrepreneur thinks that he has to spend hundreds of thousands of rands on new machinery when in fact he can come to us and buy machines which are right for the application and will not place a big debt burden on a fledgling organisation.
You need to calculate the return on your investment and if that calculation is out, rethink your business plan.”
The green movement is another facet in which South Africa has given way to a new kind of entrepreneur. Timber that in the past would have been dumped or burned is now being used to manufacture cost-effective furniture for use in the home as well as outdoors.
We met with Morne Myburg and Dirk Weeber of Wood Experience to chat about their product and how it is changing the face of their existing business. Myburg comes from a timber background having spent close on 12 years in the kitchen installation industry. He joined forces with Weeber who has a construction background and decided to go it alone and secured a niche in the manufacture of reclaimed timber furniture on the East Rand. Says Weeber, “2013 was a very hard year in the construction industry. When Morne and I decided to branch out we knew that we had to find a niche in the market which would require a very small capital outlay as opposed to setting up a fully fledged new factory. The manufacture of furniture from reclaimed timber sources provided the right avenue for us and we haven’t looked back since.”
At the moment the main source of the reclaimed timber is a number of transport companies, export concerns as well as global logistics operations. Most of the timber is pine, but this is an area that both would like to see grow to include other species such as indigenous hardwood as well as eucalyptus. During the set-up operation, the decision was made to use second hand refurbished machinery from GF Potgieter. Says Myburg, “We met with Gerhard who was truly amazing in guiding us towards what the correct machinery would be for us to start manufacturing.” This includes a thicknesser for the initial sizing of the board as well as a planer which smooths out all the rough edges. A sanding unit was also installed as well as a double bag extractor. Wood Experience recently received a very large order for a popular restaurant in Kempton Park.
Wood Experience is that special company that makes do when hard times hit. It has a small staff complement, with the two owners and one cabinet maker, Mike Jeorge. This means that everyone is involved in every aspect of running the company. The pair is very optimistic about the future. “As long as there is a source of timber, we will continue supplying our clients with our high quality and innovative products at very cost effective prices”