South Africa’s Custom Coolers
Through hard work and a strong growth strategy, MRE hope to adapt to market changes and continue to provide a top-class service in industrial refrigeration long into the future
Writers Emily Jarvis
Project Manager Tom Cullum
MRE are a specialist Industrial Refrigeration Company that designs, installs and services/maintains plants to suit the cooling requirements of any customer. The company are the second largest refrigeration contracting and compressor packager in the whole of South Africa. Each of the designs is custom made in order to best suit individual customer requirements. “we have excellent installation and service crews who are based locally. Additionally we manufacture and assemble locally as well so that we can make our products as affordable as possible,” cites Dennis vd Westhuizen, managing Director of MRE. The company have gone to great lengths to ensure they adopt the very latest technologies and control systems to achieve efficient operation of their refrigeration plants.
Started in 1995 in Cape Town, MRE originally had an office which covered Southern Africa but due to the demand for their services, strong growth allowed the company to open offices in Johannesburg and Durban. “as a result of the passion and dedication shown by our staff across all our regions of operation, today, we have been able to secure positive growth and have consequently gone on to have one of the best years ever in the history of the company in 2013,” highlights vd Westhuizen, adding his thanks to MRE customers for their continued valuable support in “our partnership to proudly provide and even exceed their requirements.”
Finding Qualified Artisans
The lack of engineering skill in South Africa extends across all industries that require semiskilled to skilled workers, as vd Westhuizen explains: “Indeed, a lack of qualified artisans has forced us to implement our own in-house training in order to up-skill the industry. We see our training as a way of making a positive impact to the local work force in South Africa, and consequently offer free education and training to any applicants that require financial assistance. Currently, we have trainee technicians and welders in a series of continual programmes of skills improvement.” MRE are also employing young engineers to train and become “the future of MRE” as vd Westhuizen believes in the mantra that “people make MRE strong and are the future of its existence”. Furthermore, running a business the size of MRE also contributes to skilled staffing difficulties, coupled with the important decision as to whether implementing automated machinery on the production line is a good idea. “MRE not only strive to keep up with the latest technologies in automation, but also focus on up-skilling the industry; using a balance of automated and manually operated lines,” Vd Westhuizen continues: “we strive to be energy efficient in all our plants wherever we can. we use heat recovery ventilation in order to not only provide fresh air and improved climate control in the plants, but to also save energy by reducing the heating and cooling requirements.”
Despite this issue, vd Westhuizen says the company will continue to grow from strength to strength into the latter part of 2014: “our entire team have been assisting in ensuring our success. Due to the hard work across the board, it is difficult to put our success down to one area alone.” However, in order to maintain this growth status, it is important for MRE to constantly monitor their training, internal policies and capabilities as vd Westhuizen reasons: “Constant improvement is a must in our business. Therefore, we are concentrating hard on improving our service department nationwide. By focussing on our customers, we hope to increase partnerships and those who consider us for their patronage.”
Vital Supply Chain
MRE works with highly-reputable associate companies both international and local in origin and all of them are vital to their operations. With the majority of MRE’s refrigeration equipment being imported from abroad, vd Westhuizen says that the company encourage local partnerships wherever possible: “We try to instil as much local content and job creation as possible throughout all our systems and packages.”
South Africa and Beyond
MRE see South Africa as the foundations for an even further reach across Africa. “Africa is a growth point and we are looking forward to using South Africa as a springboard to reach other countries. There really is significant potential and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” says vd Westhuizen. “Everything we do is new,” he adds. Moreover, MRE are developing some new products with the help of local suppliers in order to grow in newly identified areas for development. Through hard work and a strong growth strategy, MRE hope to adapt to market changes and continue to provide a top-class service in industrial refrigeration long into the future.