Passion, technical skills, real-world experience shape the way at Joxisat Sheet Metal

“There has been a steady narrative proclaiming that a four-year college degree is required for a young person to amount to anything in this world, and while we wholeheartedly endorse and support education, college is not for everyone and doesn’t guarantee success for myriad reasons,” said Wessel Smit, one of the Directors of Joxisat Sheet Metal, a company that is owned and run by himself and his brother Jannie.

“One big reason is that when a lot of kids graduate, they are saddled with huge sums of student debt that puts them behind the eight ball when it comes to getting established in society. It’s taken a while but people are slowly starting to recognise that this vast amount of school indebtedness is a concern for society as well as for the individuals themselves.”

The new JFY EFC 4020 4kW fibre laser with a 4m by 2m bed that Joxisat have purchased

“When my brother and I finished our school education there was no money to afford us the opportunity to study further at technical college, let alone university. We had to get out there and work and this we did.”

“I can’t think of any reason or influence why we both ended up working in the sheet metal engineering industry. I think it was a case of taking the first position that came along and then at least you had a foot in the door and could start getting some training and skills while gaining experience.”

“For both of us it was critical that we could work, begin our careers and of course earn a living. We knew that the older we got the more experienced we would become and the opportunities would then present themselves. Even though we had no experience we were prepared to learn on the job and fortunately companies are not closed to this idea.”

The delivery van about to head off with components and fabricated products

“Now that both of us have over 20 years of experience working in the metalworking industry and now running our own company for the last nine years, we would say that we have more than finished our theoretical studies, although we are still open to learning, but the practical skills we have acquired will far outstrip any advantages that a college or university graduate entering the market has. There is nothing like on the job training.”

“I am three years older than Jannie so I had a bit of a start on him. I started off as an operator at a sheet metal fabrication and product manufacturing company that offered metal solutions across a variety of specialised applications in metal fabrication including sheet metal production, laser cutting, CNC bending, CNC machining, CNC punching, roll work, welding, blasting and assembling.”

“This was a good grounding for me and although I mainly worked in the laser department, I made it my business to learn how to programme and where possible get to know the other processes being used in the company, as well as sales. Funnily enough when we started processing metal for our own company one of the first press brakes that we purchased was from this company. It is very old now but still does repetitive work that does not require precise specifications, for us.”

In some instances Joxisat regard themselves as a service centre and they will bang out the same product in their hundreds. But they have more fun manufacturing custom type products for customers rather than manufacturing their own products

“After working there for a few years I moved onto a similar metal processing company but one that specialised in stainless steel and aluminium. I was given a position of sales representative and programmer. Later I would be promoted to oversee the laser cutting department, all the while gaining experience not only on the cutting, bending and programming aspects but also on the different machines that the company had purchased from OEM manufacturers in Europe and Japan. While with this company I was invited to visit the Amada factory in Japan because we had a number of their machines. It was an experience that I will never forget and I hope to get back there sometime.”

“I spent seven years with that company before I was enticed to join a company that was run by a guy that I refer to as my mentor. He gave me the opportunity to get involved with production, assembly, distribution and of course finances. A great learning experience.”

“While I was embracing all the knowledge I could, Jannie had begun his career at another sheet metal processing company. While the companies that I worked for were more focussed on fabrication and product, Jannie worked for a company that we refer to in the industry as a service centre. Additionally he was exposed mainly to working on Trumpf machines. At the time little did we know that the name Trumpf and the machines that they manufacture would become a big part of our company equipment.”

The new JFY EFC 4020 4kW fibre laser, supplied by Puma Machine Tools, is the first new laser that the company has purchased

“Even though we did not work together at any stage before we started our own company in 2013, we did cross paths every now and again. Although, the sheet metal processing industry is reasonable in size, and it looks like it is growing, it is still small enough for you to get to know colleagues and opposition in the industry. It becomes even smaller if you are based in the Hennopspark/Centurion area of Gauteng. But more importantly even though you will find that these companies might be fighting for the same business every now and again, they are more than willing to help each other if your machines are full or you don’t have the capacity and capability. This happened on the odd occasion with Jannie and myself.”

Opportunity to start our own business
“We were not actively looking to start our own business but were kind of forced to do so otherwise we would have missed out on a great opportunity. We had been in contact with a guy that had a CNC machine shop and he was getting more involved with sheet metal work. He had no machines of his own and was shopping out all of his work. His knowledge was limited but it was more a case of not being in control and he needed someone manage this side of the business for him.”

“He had been nagging us for a year and was about to start purchasing his own equipment when Jannie and I decided we would become middlemen. We had the contacts for processing metal and we already had our first customer. It was a no brainer not to pursue the opportunity.”

“Being of the cautious kind and not having much disposable income we took on this contact/customer as a partner and a fourth partner put in R100 000.00 and a delivery bakkie into the partnership, to help us get going. We would buy him out in 2016 and we would do the same with the other partner in 2018.”

A product that has been cut, shaped and assembled

“We operated from a garage situation and such was the success of the business as middlemen, we decided in 2014 to go into processing metal. We had the passion, technical skills, real-world experience, dependability and the support of industry to feel confident.”

Custom processing
“In some instances we do regard ourselves as a service centre and we will bang out the same product in their hundreds. But we will have more fun manufacturing custom type products for our customers rather than manufacturing our own products.”

“Making customers happy is a priority for a successful business. This doesn’t mean you are going to achieve it every single day, but it is on the agenda. Not every customer knows what they want. They may think they do most of the time, but having the ability to put “custom” in front of your product can also be a thorn in the side.”

“We love doing custom work from a sketch or an idea and we do have access to Solidworks. Even when supplying a print, the customer often wants to make several changes that aren’t documented. It is always fun putting a spin on different products and watching them come to life. Seeing and touching the end product is what keeps you craving the next job.”

“We are also not averse to one-offs as we know these could lead to much bigger orders.”

The Trumpf 130 ton V series 7-axis machine with a bend length of 3 200mm, a stroke of 700mm and auto clamping

“Our first machine was an old Chinese manufactured press brake, one that I had worked on before. It helped get us going and we still have it on the floor. The second machine was also a press brake but this time it was one that Jannie had worked on. We acquired our virtually brand new Trumpf 130 ton V series 7-axis machine with a bend length of 3 200mm, a stroke of 700mm and auto clamping through a liquidation at a very reasonable price. At the time we were the most talked about company because of the bargain that we had acquired. That was in 2015.”

“We still had to outsource laser work. However, that would change in 2016 when we acquired a second hand Trumpf 4kW CO2 laser. We have to thank those companies that undertook our laser work – we are most grateful because they helped to get us on our feet even though they knew we would in the future acquire our own laser.”

“Initially most of our work was processing aluminium. One of our customers is a shopfitting company and he has Sorbet, the nationwide beauty therapy franchise hub, as a client. We have other clients in the motor industry, mining, the communication industry such as towers for the cellphone networks and medical industries. A client involved in manufacturing strategic medical products was why we could get back manufacturing soon after the lockdown for Covid-19 was enforced.”

US exports
“One of our biggest clients is a South African that is now based in Florida, USA. He developed a couple of machines that did not get readily accepted in South Africa so he moved to the USA and is now very successful, even exporting to Europe and Japan. His main products are a machine that carries out mag wheel repairs and the other one is a type of lathe used for machining mag wheels. We ship 26 tons of components – covers etc – to him twice a year and this should double this year.”

A production run of components

“Today aluminium only accounts for about 25% of our business – we mostly process 2mm, 3mm and 4.5mm – and stainless steel is also 25%. For stainless we cut up to 10mm. The other 50% is mild steel and we cut up to 20mm.”

“When we acquired our second press brake, we moved into a factory in Hennopspark and when we acquired our Trumpf laser we moved into a bigger facility in the same complex. The whole situation was not ideal but when you are young you do make some wrong decisions. There were constant power problems with load shedding, parking and delivery problems and clients had to access the offices through the workshop – not ideal.”

New JFY EFC 4020 fibre laser
“Fortunately that factory was sold and it forced us to move here to Centurion in January 2022 where we occupy a 780m² facility. It is amazing how a plan comes together and you benefit after being in a corner,” commented Jannie Smit.

Besides cutting and bending Joxisat offers welding and fabrication

“The amount of money we were losing because of lost production time and also because of the costs that are involved in getting the machines up and running coupled with a lower rent at our new facility has more than compensated for the new JFY EFC 4020 4kW fibre laser with a 4m by 2m bed that we have now purchased. It has all fallen into place for us very comfortably. We were intending to purchase a new laser but this was accelerated when one of our clients decided to pull out of the deal because it was taking too long for the machine to arrive in South Africa. We were offered the machine by Puma Machine Tools and jumped at it and it was installed in January 2022,” continued Jannie Smit.

“In short we had a very impressive new machine that would make us more productive and offer capacity and capability, we had a factory that was conducive to the flow we needed and our monthly expenses remained virtually the same.”

Owners and brothers Wessel and Jannie Smit

“At the same time we sold on our Trumpf CO2 laser to someone who was just starting up in laser cutting so that also helped to offset costs.”

“Currently not enough young people are choosing industry as a career path to meet current and future workforce needs. Part of the problem lies with a lack of information and understanding as to what is involved in modern manufacturing and the opportunities it offers.”

“Both Wessel and myself are grateful we have chosen this path and if you look on our floor there are young people that are learning from us and hopefully will go out on their own ventures like we did.”

For further details contact Joxisat on TEL: 012 681 4957 or visit