A shareholder transaction with the 100% black-controlled Mergence Group will provide the capital necessary for Lasercraft to continually invest in metal laser cutting, bending and welding equipment to maintain the position of the company as a market leader.
“We had been seeking a BEE partner for several years but struggled to find the right fit until we met the Mergence team who share the same passion and structural view of the metal sector. Besides the strategic alignment with Mergence, this transaction has enabled us to obtain a Level 2 BEE grading,” said Paul Dreyer, MD of Lasercraft.
Masimo a Badimo Magerman, MD of Mergence Group, said that he had been introduced to Lasercraft through rail operator Gibela who have dealings with another Mergence industrial subsidiary, composites specialist BFG Africa.
“Mergence now has a majority 60% stake in Lasercraft, and 51% of that stake is owned by black women. Our vision is to partner with sector-leading industrial companies to create entities focused on local content, building South African manufacturing capacity and leaving a legacy for future generations,” said Magerman.
The Lasercraft facility is regarded as one of the most modern process-oriented operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Paul Dreyer has built a reputation as a laser cutting expert over several decades. He worked on the first Bystronic laser that was imported into South Africa more than 30 years ago. In 2004 he established Lasercraft and in 2012, the company moved into a custom-built 9 327 m² facility in Germiston, Gauteng, with a capacity to employ 250 people.
The company is unique in the sector in that it controls the entire process from design, to raw material, through the various processes, to the finished product. Dreyer’s mantra is ‘You imagine it, and we can cut it’.
Bending is a speciality, with even competitors outsourcing this process to Lasercraft. The company can handle the heaviest to the lightest material, across all types of metal, aluminium, plastics, composites, glass and perspex. The same high-quality standards apply to all processes. Safety, housekeeping, precision and minute calibration are hallmarks. Vast underground vacuum cleaning systems keep the facility dust free and clean – and this sense of order and cleanliness helps to instil pride in employees, many of whom have been personally trained by Dreyer. It is not unusual for staff, including women, to have graduated from floor sweepers to skilled machine operators. He believes strongly in building a legacy through skills development for the industry.
The company has acted as supplier to several major projects, including the Gautrain and stadiums for the World Cup 2010. It services a wide range of industries including those in the motion industry, electrical distribution, shopfitting, automotive, defence, mining, material handling and general engineering sector. A contract with Gibela produces parts needed in the production of a 600 new commuter trains project, and resumption of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) is likely to lead to increased production by Lasercraft of parts for the solar panel industry.
Lasercraft has various certifications, including AWS for welding, ISO 2015 and is working towards ISA 3834 and an IATF 16949 certification.
“A longer-term aim is for the facility to produce its own products,” says Dreyer.