Better Results and Better Growth
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Tom Cullum
PCS Group of Companies has developed into a leading importer, distributor and wholesaler of food and beverage products, and is now seeking enhanced diversification across its business arms to capitalise on an ever-broadening international presence.
Recently celebrating its 50th birthday, the Pee Cee and Sons element of the Sierra Leonean Company has long thrived as a consequence of its key continental and global brand distributor arrangements, ranging across a variety of product categories.
However, a later expansion into the manufacturing of plastic household items, plastic packaging, water tanks and PVC pipe solutions in 2001, via its sister Milla Group SL Ltd branch, has helped to form a much more all-encompassing prospect to potential consumers in the region.
“On a business level, PCS Group of Companies puts consumers at the heart of its strategy,” says General Manager, Rajesh Hemnani. “We have continually strived to build brands that have an impact on the daily lifestyles of the average consumer and place extra emphasis on procuring quality products from around the world, working with top level suppliers. We have been very active with ATL advertising around the country to promote the availability and quality of our products.
“Anticipating changes in customers’ needs has helped us stay robust in an ever-changing market and we take the time to study market research to get insights on how, where and when products are consumed.”
The Group’s commitment to innovation and willingness to adapt to fluctuating trends has been pivotal throughout the business’s evolution, and remains core to its success today, as PCS looks ahead to even more diversity across its products and services, especially in the newer plastics domain.
“Our future project plan is to develop and integrate a plastics recycling plant for consumer waste,” says Chief Executive Officer, Mahesh Nandwani. “As of now we have already implemented in-house recycling machines in order to minimise wastage within our plant while we use a combination of virgin material and the recycled pellets of plastic to make other products.
“Wastage and pollution has become a burgeoning problem so there is an increasing need for effective waste disposal and we have taken the first steps by producing garbage bags and garbage bins which are being procured by waste management companies and the city council.”
The immediate positive feedback being received in relation to such additions is testament to the strategies being implemented by PCS across its core consumer base in Sierra Leone.
It follows naturally on from its traditional ethos of gaining maximum outreach for its products, whether that’s from a utilisation perspective or from a geographic footprint and distribution point of view.
Beginning with the Company’s food items, “to achieve this, we have invested in expanding our fleet of delivery vehicles and we have set up wholesale distribution outlets across the country in the past 10 years, in the country’s main cities”, Hemnani explains. “This allows us to maximise our outreach. When dealing with perishable items it is critical that the goods are delivered fresh and in optimal condition. So our investment into managing the supply chain from importing until final delivery ensures we achieve these deliverables.”
For the supplementary Milla Group, the same ethos remains, and is evident through numerous investments into machinery allowing for flexible production capacity and, subsequently, bespoke plastic products.
“With that in mind we have made ground in the agricultural sector with seedling bags. We have moved from making up to 3,000 litre water tanks to now making up to 10,000 litre tanks in horizontal and vertical sizes,” Nandwani continues. “Traditionally we made high pressure and low pressure water PVC pipes whereas now we also make pipes that can be used for electrical and network cabling.
“This allows us to reach new customer bases and organisations partaking in wide-scale projects.”
With at least an export presence in Liberia and Guinea, as well as Sierra Leone, the need to remain flexible and adherent to fluctuating regional trends is imperative and is achieved through the continual upgrading of machinery and an increasingly prominent reliance on automation.
A three-layer extrusion machine doubling packaging plastic capacity, an injection moulding machine, and a new roto moulding machine with a capacity of as much as 10,000 litres represent the latest capital expenditures as part of this strategy, and are compounded by an equally vigilant monitoring of the Company’s internal processes.
Nandwani says: “In the past five years we have significantly enhanced our accounting and IT infrastructure which has improved our productivity two-fold.
“Emphasis was put on connectivity between all departments of the organisation to ensure seamless and secure transfer of business information. This reduces our lead time in problem solving and avoids common miscommunications.”
Willingness to improve
The second facet of PCS’ continuous improvement philosophy comprises the all-important personnel aspect which has been fostered over the years to encourage internal promotion and extensive retention techniques in order to keep hold of the very best and most necessary skills.
“We have fostered a merit-based promotion strategy with the goal to continually train and develop our employees’ skill-sets in different divisions of the Company,” Nandwani affirms. “So no matter where we place our employees, our core capabilities are still intact. We believe a nurturing environment has helped us achieve this longevity in promoting senior managers and incorporating new employees.”
Quarterly appraisals and ongoing training from management down ensures that this promise is fulfilled, consequently instilling a 360 degree perspective in dealing with business situations among its staff members.
A focus on local employment further compounds the Group’s strive for sustainability, and as many as 430 local, skilled artisans now enjoy the incentives and personal progression that PCS provides.
Similar sustainability is emanated across the surrounding region outside of its core operations as well, via an ongoing corporate social responsibility presence and the promotion of its “Water is Life” campaign.
Nandwani explains: “The essence of the campaign is to engage communities on the importance of access to clean water and also adequately preserving and storing water when it is scarce.
“Milla has worked with Unicef and NGOs like Oxfam, MSF, IMC, Plan, Save the Children and WHH. We partook in projects to build communal water taps and we have donated water tanks to these communities so they can preserve clean water. During the Ebola crisis PCS Group was very active in providing sanitation packages and food baskets to towns across the country that were hit by Ebola.”
Ultimately, what PCS has achieved - and will strive to hone even more prominently in the years to come - is a core, unwavering ethos addressing the needs of its customers, its workforce and its community; all driven by a strong team ethic and, of course, optimum levels of quality and reliability.
“There is professionalism in every task done, and we work to build long-term relationships with all suppliers, vendors and business organisations in a diligent manner to help grow our presence within the market,” Nandwani concludes. “Our constant willingness to improve these business processes thus leads to better results and better growth.”