One of the joys of starting a business is seeing your honest, hard work realise its potential. At Tecseal Hydraulics & Mining Supplies, the combination of experience and strong family ethics has created a flourishing business in the Limpopo region.
The company specializes in a wide range of hydraulic spares and mining and industrial supplies and has capabilities to both manufacture and carry out repairs from its Steelpoort workshop and satellite branch in Brits.
Tecseal’s success has been very much built upon firm principles and the opportunity to service a flourishing mining community in the region, as Laurie Jacobs, CEO explains:
“We run a hydraulic repair shop, a mining supply division and also manufacture hydraulic hoses as per customer requirements, all under the same roof,” he describes. “We started in April 2005 (Sealtec Hydraulic & Mining Supplies) by just focussing on hydraulic hoses and has grown over the years here in Steelpoort. On 1st December 2005 we brought in our first lathe milling machine to repair hydraulic cylinders.”
Jacobs himself is from a manufacturing background and has been a fitter and turner by trade. He and his three sons saw an opportunity to serve the local mines and the rest is history: “There were no repair shops around here,” Jacobs recalls, “and that is why we took the decision to venture into a business in the area. In 2007 the decision was taken to start the company and Tecseal Hydraulic & Mining Supplies (Pty) Ltd was formed. The management group was formed and included Charles Tonga as shareholder and director.”
Predominately serving the local mines. Tecseal has become a member of the Toolmaking Association of South Africa (TASA) and is currently looking at exciting opportunities to work on railway projects in the region, as the government’s infrastructure programme reaches Mpumulanga/Limpopo.
“We have the right expertise and machines and at the moment we are working on our communication channels to understand the type of work available to us,” Jacobs says. “There is a further meeting of TASA taking place in mid-January and we should be better placed to know what the opportunities are out there. If we are successful with a tender and did happen to need more machines, we will obtain assistance to purchase the right machinery,” he continues
Machinery and people are perhaps the best measure of just how successful Tecseal has become in seven short years. Jacobs says that in December 2005 the business employed just six people and operated a single lathe and a drilling machine; but today boasts 130 employees. Tecseal works from a 12,000 square metre site that plays home to five lathe machines, two milling machines, CNC machines and welding and tooling equipment.
“We are just about at full capacity on our existing site,” Jacobs acknowledges, “and depending on the outcome of our success in tendering for work on offer, we may have to look at relocating.”
The reasons for Tecseal’s growth undoubtedly involve the need to meet customer demands; however Jacobs believes there are a deeper set of values that the company maintains, that offer great appeal:
“Our growth is down to good, honest business – I believe in it and so do my management team,” he asserts. “We have developed a set of principles by which we abide and the challenge has been to maintain that culture as we have brought in extra staff.
“At the end of the day you have got to be honest with your people and build good relationships with them, otherwise you can forget it. My late father had a saying: “Treat the next person the way you want him to treat you” – and that is what we always strive to do at Tecseal,” he adds.
It is a philosophy that has built long-standing relationships both with clients and suppliers alike, as Jacobs explains: “Our business has grown without any publicity to this point and all of our work has been generated by word of mouth. We serve all 20 mines around this area, most of the secondary industries and the local farming community, so we have a broad base. Because of our ability to get the job done on time, we simply don’t lose customers and probably 99.9 per cent of clients come back to us again and again.”
With the ability to get the job done comes an innate knack of flexibility and jobs come in a variety of packages, from drilling a hole to making a new flange or repairing a cylinder. Given the variety of jobs, Jacobs says that the company does not carry stock, relying on supplier in Johannesburg to provide parts in a timely fashion, when needed:
“We will order materials and can turn most jobs around in 3-4 days and we have found that by keeping our client base within an 80 kilometre circumference, we can remain efficient and keep costs down,” he states.
“Getting the work out on time is our biggest challenge and that means relying on our suppliers to deliver the materials here when we need them. We have built a strong relationship with a Johannesburg business called EPX who play an integral part in delivering components to us.”
Jacobs suggests that the other big issue within the region is a lack of skilled workers and Tecseal has invested heavily in an apprenticeship scheme that provides in-house training aimed at nurturing young talent; “There is a big lack of skills and you simply do not get the people off the shelf, so you have to look to train them yourselves,” he reflects.
A dedicated and fully qualified workforce is essential as Tecseal works towards gaining ISO14001 and OSHAS18001 accreditation by June 2013. The company has already attained ISO9001 and quality plays its part in a competitive market place that has seen a number of rival companies recently move to the area from Johannesburg.
Quality is also key when Tecseal purchases new machinery and in the last 3-4 months the company has spent R1.3 million on new machinery and IT equipment.
“We have definitely seen the benefits already,” affirms Jacobs, “the new machinery has helped our engineering team to get work out quicker, while the computer systems is also making our lives easier and includes a scanning system for efficient document storage and retrieval.”
The immediate future is one of consolidation for Tecseal, although further expansion is infinitely possible, depending on what opportunities are unveiled by the railway projects. Longer term, Jacobs can see good prospects within the mining community, once further infrastructure has been developed:
“Of course the mining industry has had its issues recently but there is a dam being built locally along with an electrical substation. Once these projects have completed we are hopeful that the mining companies may develop more mines in this area and that we may be able to service them,” he concludes.