Steel Best Group puts new life into Zealous

The long-established Springs-based aluminium foundry operations Zealous Automotive and Zealous Pressure Castings have been given a lifeline by the Steel Best Group, a company with manufacturing facilities in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape but with its head office in Pretoria, Gauteng.

Zealous Pressure Castings was established as a zinc die casting company in 1970 before changing emphasis to the aluminium die casting industry in 1996. Zealous Automotive was established in 2003 to service the automotive OEM market, supplying finished and sub-assembled components direct to automotive assembly lines.

In May 2016 the Zealous companies were put into business rescue to facilitate the rehabilitation of the company that had become financially distressed. This was despite the automotive division having major contracts in place with a local OEM.

The Steel Best Group, headed up by Reuben Olifant, subsequently showed an interest to become involved with the aluminium foundry group and in late 2016 installed a management team to implement a business rescue plan that had been agreed upon with stakeholders.

“Essentially the companies are still in business rescue and the appointed practitioners still have a 14 month contract to fulfill,” explained Executive Chairman Reuben Olifant.

“We have been involved for nearly two years and believe that the successful rescue of the two divisions is now achievable. For some time now they have been operating as fully functional businesses. We have managed to restore confidence with most of the clients, kept on most of the staff and more recently invested over R10 million in the necessary equipment needed to enhance the quality of the products and components that we are producing.”

“Initially one of the main clients that we have a contract with – Volkswagen South Africa – was presented with our turnaround plan and they accepted what we proposed and today we are producing over 450 cam carriers a day for them. The cam carriers are for the local EA 111 four-cylinder 1.4-litre Polo engine and each weigh 2.4 kilograms.”

“Additionally, we are now producing another component for Volkswagen South Africa, also for the 1.4-litre Polo.”

“They have shown confidence in us, as has one of the major shareholders, the IDC. They have a 49% stake in the business which in time will be withdrawn as the company gets onto a secure footing.”

“This is happening faster than we thought initially and is one of the reasons that we are now making sizeable investments into our systems and equipment.”

“Most of the other clients are still on board and some of those that had withdrawn their business are now close to signing up with us again. One of them supplies product to most of the automotive OEMs in South Africa. This client is also keen for us to develop the manufacturing of other components that were not produced previously at the company.”

“More importantly we have been successful in securing non-automotive contracts from clients in the lighting industry. Here we are casting various lighting components and housings.”

“Clyde Erasmus, our COO, and Poena Fourie, our Plant Manager, who were both based at our manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth have spent many hours at the Springs plant over the last two years. Poena will soon be based there full time and he has been tasked with increasing the 60 to 65 tons a month output that we are currently achieving.”

For further details contact Best Steel Automotive and Pressure Die Casting on TEL: 011 813 1130 or