LOCAL PASSION AND EXPERTISE CREATE A GLOBALLY RESPECTED WINNER
The Sassda Columbus Stainless Awards Overall Winner is Durban-based ND Engineering, a company with a passion for South African stainless steel complemented by a strong presence in the global market. Not only has it achieved winner status in the Manufacturing Innovation and Duplex tainless Steel categories, but also first runner up in the Welding category and merit awards in both the Export Achievement and Agro-Processing categories.
Clear evidence of the depth and diversity of its excellence in stainless steel, are that comments on the company’s stellar performance in these categories include:
“ND Engineering’s management strategy eliminated waste, improved production times and quality and maximised project returns,” “A text book example of the company’s mastery of the use of duplex stainless steel,” and “ND Engineering now exports more than 50% of their production.”
To gain more an insight into this world-class operation, we spoke to ND Engineering MD, Elvis Green, to see what sets this trail blazing company apart…
Q. What would you say are the biggest changes you have seen in your business over the last two years?
A. As an organisation, we have always tried to focus on doing the basics well. The term “basics” is perhaps a little misleading because we operate in an industry, economy and country that is anything but basic. Over the past two years, we have chosen to be mindful of the external factors that have plagued our industry, but to also actively focus on internal improvements to negate the affects. We have made a concerted effort to be positive in a difficult manufacturing environment and strategically we have decided to expand when competitors are downsizing with the intention of filling some noticeable capacity voids.
Q. What are the biggest challenges that you have faced in that time and how have they been overcome?
A. The challenges that we face as a company are no different to the rest of the industry. We operate in a very volatile space with regards to labour, exchange rates, material prices, politics etc. We have to compete against foreign companies, from low cost countries, with greater labour efficiency, all of which makes it very difficult to compete profitably. To counteract this, we have invested heavily in training existing and new employees to improve our efficiencies. We have also invested in new equipment and most importantly, we have created a stable environment in which all team members are comfortable and able to express themselves, without having to shoulder the burden of these tough economic times.
Q. What are the core principles that set ND Engineering apart in such a tight domestic market?
A. Our core objective is quite simply, to add value to our customers and all stakeholders. If we are not adding value to our customers, suppliers, employees and community then what are we actually in business for? Every enquiry, every engagement arises from a need. As a company we have become very good at satisfying a wide range of needs through innovative thinking, the experience of our management team and very importantly, a willingness to listen to the actual needs of stakeholders.
We are an owner-run and managed business and this gives us the ability to make decisions quickly without the bureaucracy associated with big corporates.
Q. What would you say will be the key areas for growth within the local market in the next year and how is ND Engineering ‘gearing’ up for these opportunities?
A. The local market is looking increasingly tough in some sectors and increasingly good in others. As a company we have spent many years actively penetrating a variety of different industries. We have learned many lessons over the years and honed our skills in various industries. The question was, “how is ND Engineering ‘gearing’ up?" the answer is that unless you have already geared up, you have missed the boat! We, together with our employees, have over many years learned the intricacies of different clients and sectors and are in a position to support clients and sectors that are in difficulty and conversely, contribute to our clients in sectors that are thriving. The imminent completion of our new fully equipped workshop facility will assist us in achieving these goals.