Company invests in PMB

2011-08-30 00:00

TOWBAR and towing systems giant Thule Towing Systems (SA) recently showcased two major new investments in Pietermaritzburg in the form of a new testing centre in Woodlands, as well as a recently commissioned manufacturing facility in Mkondeni.

The developments represent a major investment in the local economy of the city. The cost of the test centre was R7 million.

Thule Towing Systems (SA) was established in 2006 in Pietermaritzburg and is a joint venture between giant Swedish-based Thule and Woodlands-based Ramsay Engineering.

The state of the art new towbar testing centre, which is linked to Thule’s main research and development hub in Holland, provides Thule Towing Systems (SA) with the ability to design, research and develop towbars, while also testing new and existing products.

Managing director of Thule Towing Systems Mark Gutridge told The Witness that the new testing centre will enable the company to meet the demands of the local market better.

The appointment of Gutridge as MD was made at a special function held on Thursday in Pietermaritzburg to launch the new facilities officially.

A host of local and international dignitaries attended the event.

A key shareholder of Thule Towing Systems (SA), Nicholas Beaumont, stressed that the new centre will establish investor confidence in South Africa.

“Confidence breeds confidence. The investment grows the local economy, providing new employment opportunities while improving technical expertise and makes South Africa far less dependent on imports.”

President of Towing Solutions for the Thule Group Gerrit de Graaf said that an efficient in-house testing centre supports the development process.

“A facility such as this one enhances our engineering capacity by enabling us to meet the specific requirements of our South African customers swiftly and proactively. South Africa is well-established as a production hub for complete vehicles and it is important that we can supply appropriate products not only for the local market — and it is a market which has a strong leaning towards an outdoor lifestyle and therefore a definite need for towing systems — but also for the export markets which locally based OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] service,” De Graaf stated.

Gutridge said the recently developed manufacturing facility in Mkondeni was commissioned as a result of growth opportunities presented by the new Ford Ranger vehicle.

Thule Towing Systems (SA) will supply products to Ford’s new model.

The manufacturing plant, which boasts 800 towbar products, has an annual capacity of 100 000 towbars which represents about 10% of Thule’s total worldwide capacity.

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