Acquisition finalised in 2019.
Much has changed at Stainless Plate Products since Metalworking News last visited four years ago. For one, owner Freddie Visser has shown his commitment to building a better South Africa despite the numerous challenges the economy faces in the coming years by acquiring Schipper Steel, a Cape Town-based fabricator of a wide range of metal enclosures, and in the process prevented the loss of some 37 jobs.
“Once you commit to staying, you have to put your head down and focus. I’m feeling positive about next year and for 2021. It’s a bit like watching a car accident in slow motion and not doing anything about it. I do believe things will change because you can only tread water for so long. The key has been not to rely on one service offering alone, but to offer a diversity of services. The two businesses complement each other rather than compete against each other,” says Visser.
Indeed, government has begun to take steps to attempt to address the disastrous state of some of its state-owned enterprises such as putting SAA into business rescue and placing Prasa under administration. However, it remains to be seen what will happen with the power (or lack thereof) provider, Eskom. One hopes the country’s leadership will see that with simple regulatory changes such as allowing independent power producers to feed more to the national grid, or to simply allow independent power producers to supply local municipalities directly, everyone will benefit and power constraints could be somewhat alleviated. After all, investor confidence is a key requirement to building a better South Africa.
A SANCO SVW-4222 Double Column Bridge Type CNC was installed at Stainless Plate Products, courtesy of WD Hearn Machine Tools in late 2018. It has three axes with a 2m x 4m bed
Various Bystronic Xpert press brakes used to bend a variety of components at Stainless Plate Products. The company has more on order
And this speaks to an Africanising economy too – one that directly benefits the local communities in the surrounding areas and obviously creates jobs in the process. While manufacturing as a whole may have contracted for the fifth consecutive quarter locally, there are definitely areas where growth is taking place.
Visser sights growth in areas where development is scheduled to take place like in the Tygerberg vicinity, expansion of the Cape Town International Airport and upgrades taking place there, as well as the expansion of the Simon’s Town Harbour. There are also substantial plans in the Western Cape for clinics and hospitals as well as warehousing distribution centres and learning centres.
Products and components that both Schipper Steel and Stainless Plate Products manufacture and service cover a number of industries from automotive, mining, marine and IT enclosures to petrochemical and dairy, with Schipper Steel specialising in the manufacture of various metal enclosures. Materials that Schipper Steel fabricate from include mild steel, 3CR12, stainless steel and aluminium.
The acquisition of Schipper Steel was finalised on the 30th of June 2019 and the decision to relocate the business from Paarden Eiland to premises adjacent to Stainless Plate Products in Busaf Park, Bellville, was made. The move took place in early August 2019 and welding was already underway by the 12th of the month.
When Stainless Plate Products acquired Schipper Steel, various machines and an experienced labour force came as part of the deal, such as this Trumpf TruLaser 1030
“Once I understood the business better, I realised that it had a very good skill base, with good people that over a few decades had been producing quality products with an established blue-chip client base. It already had lasers and various other machines too, so it made sense. Once we had the buy in from the staff, all 37 came on board. As a separate entity, it’s a 66-year-old business with in excess of 400 customers. Only around 10 of those are mutual with Stainless Plate Products.”
One could say the relationship between the two businesses is somewhat symbiotic and the two share various resources in order to grow a more comprehensive sheet metal and general metal fabricating business with a service shop that caters directly to individual client needs.
Schipper Steel is able to offer fully automated CNC punching, bending, welding and professional finishes to the variety of components and products that it manufactures. It is a specialist metal enclosure manufacturer manufacturing multi-purpose enclosures that comprise of floor standing enclosures to consoles and desks, to computer and server enclosures and control desks, to fibre optic distribution boxes and more. The company also manufactures a variety of cable and reticulation management components. The company states that if it can be manufactured of light metal, they will probably be able to make it for you.
There are also plans afoot for the assembly of a powder coating plant and a feasibility study is already underway. This would further enable and extend the offering of turnkey services to clients. Further to this, Schipper Steel is venturing into shop fittings with many customer specific designed products being manufactured.
“Future growth will come in the efficiency of automation, and we are exploring the options with regard to night shifts in this area. You need to look at the local cost of ownership,” says Visser.
“Since 2010 Stainless Plate Products has experienced a 50% growth in turnover. Ryan Geyer joined us last year as Sales Director, and together with the team of internal and external sales representatives, we are seeing the benefits of sales and marketing. On the Schipper side, we have also employed a salesperson so now the staff complement is 38,” continues Visser.
Various components manufactured by Schipper Steel. Apart from its specialised metal cabinets, Schipper Steel manufactures a wide range of customer specific products
In late 2018, Stainless Plate Products further invested in its machinery and commissioned WD Hearn Machine Tools to install a SANCO SVW-4222 Double Column Bridge Type CNC. It has three axes with a 2m x 4m bed. The company has also expanded their Leadwell fleet in recent years with the addition of a few new CNC machines similarly supplied by WD Hearn Machine Tools, as well as added some Bystronic Xpert press brakes, with more on order.
While some bigger businesses in the general manufacturing industry are struggling to adapt to the tough economic conditions, other small to medium enterprises such as Stainless Plate Products and Schipper Steel pool their resources from skilled fabricators to marketing knowledge, so as to create a better all-round solution for their clients. The key is to be able to adapt if you want to succeed when the playing conditions are unpredictable.