Men Of Steel
Brollo Kenya have built their success on a solid foundation of steel and meticulous workmanship with an Italian flair
Writer Rebecca Wigmore
Project manager Ben Wigger
Brollo Kenya is one of the oldest cold rolling steel manufacturing companies in East & Central Africa and something of unique operator in the industry. When asked why Brollo is so unique, Operations Director Pritesh Doshi was quick to highlight the company's rich heritage: "Brollo is a very old company and the level of our workmanship is just as good as it was 40 years ago." Part of this commitment to the manufacturing process means that the quality of steel product produced at Brollo is extremely high. Doshi is obviously proud of Brollo's legacy: "The only way we have become the premier manufacturers of steel hollow sections and profiles is because of what we offer to our customers. Our commitment to customers goes beyond providing the best quality, best delivery and best service together with this we also provide innovative solutions''. We also have technical support by a network of Engineers and Technical personnel who are able to supply design assistance and product support to help get the best advantage from our products. The international pedigree alluded to here is very much at the heart of the Brollo brand and is one of the reasons that the company achieves consistently excellent results.
The business chiefly manufactures steel plates, sheets and strips, cold formed profiles such as angles, channels, Zed Purlins, circular, square and rectangular structural hollow sections. They also manufacture furniture tubing , galvanized and Black Steel pipes, guardrails and safety barriers for the various industries such as engineering, construction & body building industries. Brollo commenced operation in 1972 under the ownership of an Italian steel entrepreneur who gave 'Brollo' its distinctive name. Brollo Kenya was bought out in the early ninety's by the Doshi family who then became the sole owners and manage Brollo as a family business to this day.
Facing up to the Challenges
Running a complex multi-faceted enterprise and balancing the traditional and modern methodologies of steel manufacture can be challenging, but this is something that Pritesh takes in stride: "We face challenges every single day just as any other business would do." One of the chief issues facing Brollo is not having constant supply of water & electricity from the government, which disrupts the production process and in turn leads to production costs going up "Another challenge that we are faced with is stiff competition in the market between steel manufacturers who tend to undercut one another who in return sell at a cheaper price than market value."
It is clear though that Brollo are simply not willing to compromise on quality and Pritesh is especially proud of the "Italian methodology that has been put in place in the plant." This is not to preclude modernisation however, as the factory is in the process of being wholly computerised and there are two more modern Indian machines currently operating on the factory floor. As Pritesh points out "We now have a mixture of Indian and Italian machinery on the floor, however there is no denying our Italian influence, our technique remains the same."
Another challenge that faces Brollo is the expense and difficulties inherent in Kenyan import and export practices as Pritesh explains: "A lot of the politics surrounding exports from Kenya sometimes affect our ability to send out materials. The currency fluctuation is also difficult because all of our raw material imports are valued in US Dollars and we have to convert everything into Kenyan Shillings in order to sell the final manufactured goods on." Pritesh also recognises the ways in which the landscape of the steel industry is changing.
"Demand for steel will never die out in a developing country, considering the boom in the construction industry and many entrepreneurs are looking at diversifying and opening new still mills, causing a scenario with excess competition in the market.' However that said, the power of Brollo's name and reputation means the company is surviving, and moving with the times.
Legacy and Evolution
The company's commitment to evolution and change is clear to see. Pritesh's background is in banking and finance but he has worked in the family business for the past five years and the fresh eye and keen analysis of the steel industry means that he is in a unique position to respond to change: "Every day is a learning process for me, I would plan my working day with objectives to meet by the end of each day." The last five years at Brollo have seen a changing of the guard as the next generation of the Doshi family take the helm, with Pritesh and his elder brother Ketan Doshi, the Company's C.E.O who is also his mentor and the brains behind the success, combining the wisdom of their seniors with a fresh and modern business sense.
Brollo's name and legacy also inspires strong loyalty from its employees. "We have a couple of workers who have been with the company since its beginnings in 1972," explains Pritesh. "These older gentleman came in as young boys on internship and we are very proud to still have them as our senior staff. Even though these men don't have any formal education, the wealth of experience that they've accrued on the manufacturing floor means that they truly know the tricks of the trade."
In recognition of the veteran workers' loyalty, Brollo is focused on ongoing workplace development. With a key focus on computer training and several management programs such as team building to develop each individual to be responsible in their own respective departments. This ensures all Brollo employees are well-versed in traditional techniques and also equipped to handle the challenges of 21st century steel manufacturing industry. Brollo is committed to its proud history and to attaining new professional heights, employing both university-qualified professionals and highly experienced engineers to head up its various manufacturing departments with the senior-level managers working in the sales, marketing and accounting departments. When hiring new staff, Pritesh stresses that the number one quality he looks for is existing experience within the steel industry. He is keen to attract highly qualified applicants who have the right attitude and "the ability to fit into [Brollo's] organisational structure."
2014: The Year of Brollo?
When talking about the company's plans for the next year, Pritesh focuses mainly on Brollo's ambitious production targets: "In the next year, we're looking at double production – making double the amount of product in the same amount of hours because of the new machinery that we've installed. We're also looking at more investments of different machinery for different products to increase our product range in the market" In addition, there will be an increased focus on other African markets: "We have a self-assigned monthly sales and production target that we have to meet – that involves me working with the rest of the team to focus on the Kenyan market and working towards engaging the markets in East & Central Africa. With everything that we have planned, 2014 is going to be a very successful year for Brollo."