Within manufacturing circles, production flow remains one of the best ways to cut costs and lead times. For a fast moving goods manufacturer like Duro Pressings, it is paramount.
The Alrode, Gauteng-based business is one of the largest manufacturers of steel and aluminium products such as windows and doors, as well as steel garage doors in South Africa. Additionally Duro Pressings manufactures a range of shower doors and DIY products.
Perhaps one of the biggest endorsements of the company is its longevity, for Duro Pressings began life as a leading supplier to the building and construction industry back in 1955. Of course success over such a period of time is built on more than just factory efficiency and versatility has played an important role, as John Lamb, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, explains:
“Historically, Duro’s core business was centred around pressed steel but subsequent to a broad diversification process, we are widely regarded as one of the biggest manufacturers and suppliers of steel and aluminium windows, doors, doorframes and garage doors to the building, construction and retailing industries in southern Africa.”
Today the business operates across all the South African provinces, with branches in Babelegi, Free State, Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, East London, Port Elizabeth and Mpumalanga and associates in Namibia and Mozambique.
“Duro are also partners in a business called Vela, which manufactures alternative housing solutions, and is currently very successful in Africa, and hope to be as successful in South Africa soon,” Lamb adds.
“Our slogan is “Building With Pride” and we want that slogan to encompass all that we do. The majority of our business is currently in the affordable housing sector or catering for people in the 1 – 3 LSM Category, and we therefore pride ourselves on supplying this sector with quality affordable products.
“As a business we have an offering that is unmatched in the industry, in that we can offer a home owner/developer/builders merchant a basket offering that no other single supplier can. However, we can have all of these fantastic offerings – but without the quality people that we have working in our business, the rest would be useless,” he continues.
Right now, those people total in excess of 2,100 individuals, supplying products for a vast array of clients:
“Our customers are anyone needing to close an “opening” in terms of windows, doors or garage doors – and all the people involved in this “chain”, from the homeowners to contractors to architects and developers. Our chosen channel market is “through” reputable builders merchants, including many of the bigger names with a national footprint like Cashbuild, Build It, Builders Warehouse, Builders Trade Depot, Buco, Pennypinchers and Timber City,” Lamb states.
“The majority of our business is repeat business, especially any business that has been done through any of the mentioned builders merchants,” he continues.
For a company that manufactures and markets thousands of sku’s, stock control is an important consideration. Lamb indicates that Duro carries the “fast movers” in bulk stock, with an executive ensuring that the whole process runs like clockwork:
“Due to our national footprint, it is imperative that we ensure that our supply chain “runs” effectively, and a large part of that function is ensuring that stock control and stock control measures are managed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis,” he asserts.
“We have a management system in place that monitors usage of our entire fleet in terms of travelling distances, times, load values and more, and this is continuously monitored to ensure that we are getting the best “load optimisation” on all our vehicles.”
Efficiency has been further strengthened over the past couple of years, following a takeover in December 2011, which, Lamb suggests had a hugely positive impact:
“Once the change in ownership took place, it was decided Duro needed a new “look” to accompany its new vision and direction. We designed a new logo and slogan and at the same time rebranded our offices and buildings the country. This was no small task, as we had to rebrand nine buildings in just nine days.
“We also wanted to have a “surprise” element to the rebranding, where people who were working in the offices would leave at the end of the day, only to return to the “newly” rebranded building the following day.
“We also invested in 46 new branded vehicles for our staff and we have upgraded a lot of our facilities, and moved some of our branches onto bigger premises. Since the takeover, there has also been significant investment in new machinery that will enable us to meet increased customer demand, and at the same time, deliver a far superior product in terms of quality.
“In terms of achievements, we have successfully implemented a number of new systems for the group – and this will lead to Duro being better placed to service all our clients in the future. Automation is becoming a bigger factor in our business month by month. We are constantly looking at ways to develop our manufacturing “system/practices” to ensure that we are an “effective low cost producer”.
“Each of our plants is unique in its layout due to the space available, however, there is a common overriding factor in that they are all focussed on ensuring that the “flow” of product from raw material to finished goods is as “smooth” as possible,” he continues.
Part of that process involves quality control and Lamb says the company has started to implement practices to ensure it attains certification for its products before the year is out:
“This will be a major positive in our business and we are also embarking on programmes to ensure that we can apply for ISO/SABS status in our manufacturing plants in the not too distant future,” he affirms.
If investment and quality control have improved operational finesse, meeting and exceeding customer expectations remains a priority for any upwardly mobile business, regardless of the already high standards being set.
Commercially the rainy season has a negative effect due to the practical difficulties this presents, while Lamb suggests there is also a smaller dip at the end of the government’s financial year, as this impacts on cash flow for future projects.
Of course the diverse range of products on offer has helped to mitigate some of the commercial issues and Duro remains the largest manufacturer of steel windows and doors in Southern Africa.
“Our single biggest commercial challenge is to decide where to focus our financial resources for the best return. There are numerous opportunities, but we need to be incredibly selective and focussed to achieve our goals,” Lamb declares.
“I would like to see our business move from a product based business to a solution based business – regardless of material type.
“Our national footprint is big enough, and we will not be expanding on this yet but our vision is to become the leading supplier of products in the openings category for the building industry. A one stop shop, regardless of material type, for the openings category.
“Our biggest goal is to become a truly customer centric company – this entails putting the customer first, in all that we do. We also need to add to our existing product ranges, in product and new material offerings such as wooden doors and windows,” he concludes.