Booming PMB firm expands

2008-03-25 00:00

A remarkable manufacturing business in Pietermaritzburg will look to the Middle East, South East Asia and Russia in its endeavour to build on an already hugely successful turnaround programme.

Until recently, it was a little known fact that Clifford-Ideal, based in the Pentrich area, actually manufactures and exports massive construction mesh machines.

These large machines — which include grating welders; construction mesh welders; high-speed straightening and cutting machines — range from R1 million to R15 million in value.

The other interesting aspect of the business is the fact that they achieved a whopping 2 000% rise in profits last year by improving efficiency and quality, while also motivating staff members through enhanced working conditions.

Noting that the company recovered from liquidation in 2003, and thrived, managing director Graham Raynor said: “The bottom line is that the world is our market. We’ve just had a R15-million order from India. In addition, we’ve just finished commissioning two machines in the United Arab Emirates.

“We’ve also got seriously hot inquiries from Oman, Qatar, Iran, Egypt, Israel and India.

“We’re in the construction mesh game and we explore markets in which there are construction booms,” he said.

Anticipating a housing crisis in the United States, the company early this year made a prudent move to rely less on the U.S. market.

The Middle East, South East Asia and Russia are now key markets for a company that already exports machines to more than 30 countries.

In line with this strategy, Clifford-Ideal will now devote 90% of its marketing budget to the development of key business relationships in these markets.

Perhaps equally important is the fact that the Pietermaritzburg-based company is a market leader in technological advancement in machine-making.

Raynor said that all these research and development outcomes are achieved in-house. “We have just finished developing a new straightening and cutting machine. The current performance standard for these machines is about 160 metres per minute. We’ve just developed one that achieves 360 metres per minute.

“Not only is speed important, but quality is also important.

“For every kilometre of wire that runs through this machine at high speed, we can have a total error in length of only 36 millimetres. This machine is doing what people said was impossible to do.”

kavith@witness.co.za

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