2017’s company evolution has encompassed both a new Vision 2021 and refined strategy helping to take H&R Africa to new industry heights and geographical footprints that are better aligned to market demands
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Josh Hyland
H&R has continued to utilise and optimise its ‘big 5’ strategic objectives over the past 12 months, allowing the business to grow, while enhancing competitiveness and profitability and increasing its geographical footprint.
H&R Africa first developed its “Big 5” strategic objectives in 2014 with the intent to provide clarity on what H&R Africa’s vision and business priorities were to all employees. Five key objectives were identified, having just five has enabled the Company to focus the business and avoid being distracted from our core objectives.
“Since 2014 we have reviewed the “big 5”on an annual basis with all our staff, and as a consequence our objectives have evolved,” explains Sales and Marketing Manager, Rudi Van Niekerk. “So far the direction first adopted in 2014 has proved to be still correct and hence we have only had to evolve and not undertake any significant step change.”
Operating across areas of personal care, wood board and construction, packaging, rubber and plastics, electrical and communication cables; the business is now focusing on leveraging these recent achievements in order to strengthen its commercial and technological competitive advantages and to remain relevant in very dynamic markets.
“We supply materials that are used by manufacturers in the industry segments previously mentioned,” adds Van Niekerk. “We consider a key part of our core business is that we understand what is important to manufacturers, and align our business to manufacturer’s requirements.”
The Mobeni site was purchased in 2015 expanding on the Company’s production resources locally and demonstrates the H&R Group commitment to its growth in Africa. A five year development plan, once fully implemented, will see the site become the center for the H&R Africa operations. The plans focus on meeting HES standards and installing manufacturing processes for its product ranges produced locally.
“Moving into 2017 our plans and mission was entrenched in developing new processes, expanding our manufacturing capacities and being innovative in how we deliver solutions to the South African tyre and rubber industry; especially for the producers requiring label-free process oils,” continues Van Niekerk. “Our recently acquired and commissioned Durban-Mobeni plant is now in operation and has increased our label-free process oils manufacturing capacity by 10,000mt.
“The 2016 investment in the label-free plasticizer oil production facility was made in the Mobeni plant. It is the first such facility in Africa, and by providing label free oils that are compliant with global legislation for use in automotive tyres is an enabler for the growth in the manufacture and exporting of cars to the rest of the world.”
Since being established in South Africa in 2004 the company has grown in terms of head count, with all of its employees locally employed. Skills development and training is important to the Compan, including a trainee program where we bring newly qualified graduates who have qualified in various disciplines into the Company of one year development programs.
Van Niekerk continues: “Overall, and as a result of these initiatives, for the same period year-to-year we have seen volume throughout increase by 15 percent and, additionally, our staff compliment has increased by 10 percent. The additional staff have enabled H&R Africa to service cross-border markets, whilst maintaining world-class service levels to the domestic markets.
“We recognised that we could achieve higher economies of scale by developing partnerships with distributors operating in the Eastern, Western and Southern Africa regions, which has been a focus area in the last 18 months. Alongside also recognising that local business in those regions are best skilled to handle the distribution of our products and hence partner with those local companies. The continued evolution of our organisation allows us to focus on our growing customer base throughout the continent.”
Enhanced service levels
Not one to rest on its laurels or previous successes however, H&R’s most significant development over the past 18 months has been an encompassing corporate evolution of the business; and especially the primary South African strand which focuses on domestic markets.
Evolution of the business continues to enable it to best meet the needs of our current and future customer base, in South Africa the Company has a local equity partner aligned to South Africa’s B-BBEE objectives.
Elsewhere in Africa it is developing plans that hopefully will see H&R companies established in other regions, with evolving organisations allow it to focus on creating a growing customer base throughout the continent.
“There is already a trend towards the contraction of the number of vendors used by our major customers and we see this as an opportunity to offer them an enhanced product range. This has given rise to H&R Africa’s ‘Speciality Chemicals Business Unit’ which aims to offer customers product solutions that complement our current offerings. He continues: “Technically, South Africa is in recession, which has resulted in H&R Africa having excess capacity, which has facilitated our expansion into other African markets.”
However as a group it believes the long term prospects for both South Africa and the countries that comprise the African Continent remains positive. H&R’s business principles are about establishing permanent local organisations in countries and regions in which it operates.
A signal of intent for H&R Africa’s more concerted foray into new territories, the Company is participating at the African Chemicals Imbizo 2017 event as a member of the Durban Chemicals Cluster; an event alongside the Department of Trade and Industry which brings together the sub-Saharan chemicals industry to discuss key issues it faces, to gain insights, to network, and to discuss opportunities with stakeholders.
The event will take the form of both an exhibition and focused buyer and supplier meetings, where H&R Africa will be able to demonstrate its prowess and intentions across its core enterprise attributes including its hope to launch some more satellite offices across Africa in the future; as well as its more humble corporate social responsibility efforts which have recently been epitomised by the completion of an upgrade to St Thomas’ children’s home.
And of course, much of the Company’s discussions will revolve around the aforementioned restructuring. However, manifesting simultaneously on a more long-term note is H&R’s 2021 vision which takes into account the immediate benefits of the restructuring as well as the shorter-term compounding of recent successes.
“Our 2021 vision speaks to enhancing our culture and creating opportunities for our staff,” Van Niekerk affirms and concludes. “The future growth of our business is expected to create opportunities for individuals to grow, and to maximise individual strengths, and we are further developing an innovation programme with our staff which incorporates a series of workshops as well as business improvement ideas.
“Vision 2021 will ultimately look ahead at the changes that this business will go through in order to grow regionally; the leadership required to focus our efforts on simplified business processes; our receptiveness to new opportunities; and how to expand the size of the business around our most important asset: our staff.”