Braitex Tensilon continues to serve South Africa’s textile needs having adapted to changing and challenging industry backdrops ever since it began life in 1948
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
Very few industries have been left untouched by globalisation over the past few decades.
Ease of transport, improving connectivity and the allure of outsourcing to save money has resulted in many local trades being overtaken by manufacturing powerhouses, especially those with immense labour forces in Asia.
The textiles trade is a case in point, but with challenge comes opportunity and the chance to innovate.
“Working in this industry for the last 36 years has been extremely testing,” comments Jacobus Venter, CEO of narrow fabric manufacturer Braitex Tensilon.
“Our customer base, especially in the clothing sector, has shrunk tremendously, meaning we’ve had to diversify our operations into industrial products and today we find ourselves with a new operation in Springs catering for this sector.
“This, plus the return of clothing manufacturing to South Africa, have reignited the excitement in the industry.”
Braitex is a South African textile stalwart. Founded in 1948 by the late George Rosochacki, the company grew from small beginnings into one of the most prolific manufacturers of narrow fabrics on the continent.
Today Braitex operates production facilities in Cape Town and Gauteng, converting hundreds of tonnes of raw material into high quality products every year for both local and international customers.
The power to adapt
Asked what stands Braitex apart from others in the textile trade, Venter points to the company’s immense experience contained within its ranks, experience which has allowed it to develop both capable people and quality products.
“We have the ability to access capable and motivated people at all levels of our organisation,” he adds. “Africa is growing younger, more educated and skilled and is willing to participate in an industrial future. We build on this.
“In spite of significant market and opportunity fluctuations in the last 15 years we are producing and innovating products in response to the need of the market. But let me reassure you, these are all words. Come and have a look at our products. Beautiful, strong and durable products made by hands and minds and machines on African soil.
“On the clothing front, we have upgraded our jacquard and other weaving, knitting, printing and finishing equipment to make us a world class operation. This allows us to cater for the entire spectrum of requirements in narrow fabric applications.”
Venter highlights the importance of innovation, and this is no better demonstrated than by Braitex’s move into the industrial sector as a means of futureproofing the organisation.
This includes introducing products like harness, tye down and PVC coated webbings, mattress and other tapes, strapping, lashing and lifting products.
The latter products are particularly sought after in the mining and forestry sectors, aiding companies in the movement of import and export goods, with such elastication and strengthening fabrics also useful for the likes of car, shoe, medical and transport industries, to name but a few.
“Why should we do this?” Venter asks.
“These are vibrant and growing industries. As mentioned, our population is young and growing and connected in the sense of aspiration and use of cell phones and the internet. This holds true for Africa north of us.
“We expect that commodities like timber for housing and goods to build infrastructure in towns will need our products to transport, to lift and hold together.”
This pride in development can also be applied to the company’s most important asset, its people.
Braitex has a long and proud history of providing secure employment opportunities, offering its workers the chance to build skills and work their way up the ladder.
“All industries, especially textiles, have had to contend with lower margins in current times,” Venter explains. “This, however, does not detract from the decades of consistent work and ability to develop and improve our employees.
“We comply with and embrace transformational processes that are shaping our society. We have an active learnership programme developing people to move from school to becoming directors in a complex industry.
“We do what’s best for the health of our company, attracting a keen and bright workforce who can look forward to a long career as long as we remain profitable. We live and work by the slogan ‘Proudly South African’.”
And it is this proudly South African mantra that will guide Braitex moving forward. Venter, passionate about the betterment of both the company and the country in which he lives, concludes by stating his priorities for the year ahead.
“The purpose of business is to remain profitable. In addition, we hope to build efficiencies to allow our competitiveness to continue to grow.
“As a result of that, we foresee our whole working team, from cleaner to CEO, being healthy and productive and having a satisfactory career. In this we see a direct stabilising influence we hope to bring to our communities. We plan to remain and thrive and continuously evolve with our vibrant, exciting nation.”