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2015-11-18 06:00

THE Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business on Friday night announced that three Business of the Year awards would be presented this year.

Chamber CEO Melanie Veness said the first was to the Business of the Year in the Services Sector, the second to the Business of the Year in the Manufacturing Sector and the third to the Business of the Year: State-Owned Enterprises.

Business of the Year in the Services­ Sector 2015:

Mediclinic (Pty) Ltd.

Mediclinic PMB, a subsidiary of Mediclinic Southern Africa and Mediclinic International Group, is a JSE-listed company. The judges remarked that against a background of competitive private healthcare service provision, Mediclinic distinguishes itself on excellent clinical outcomes of patient experience, ability to attract and retain high calibre doctors, nursing and general staff, as well as on strategic investment in cutting edge technology.

As a health0care institution, Mediclinic is strongly and visibly driven by the principle of Kaizen, i.e. continuous innovation geared towards providing improved service to patients and other stakeholders. They recently completed a major infrastructure development and renovation project, adding 95 beds to existing capacity, which translates to a total bed capacity of 237 units. Further, they have introduced additional specialist health disciplines such as the cardiac critical care unit and a cardiothoracic theatre. On the employment side, Mediclinic is perceived as an employer of choice, providing healthy work conditions and incentives to nurses and support staff, whose numbers have increased by 27,5%.

Mediclinic is being recognised for its exceptional productivity gains with respect to bed-day utilisation and effective utilisation of theatre hours, remarkable financial performance and their commitment to the care of people, which is further supported by an impressive portfolio of social responsibility initiatives.

An exceptional business and a worthy recipient of this award.

Business of the Year in the Manufacturing Sector 2015:

  • for the second consecutive year.

Arguably the largest brass foundry in the country, PDC’s major products are brass and aluminium alloy window and door handles, brass components used in high-voltage insulator cut-outs, and brass sprinkler heads produced in large volumes, mainly for export to the U.S. The company has a strong financial position in terms of assets built up over the 63 years of operations in Pietermaritzburg and continues to show remarkable growth in turnover and profitability.

The recent investment in a zinc-coating plant, increased automation and use of robotics, and a commitment to lean thinking as a strategy have ensured that PDC successfully maintains its competitive edge, both locally and internationally. The evaluators were particularly impressed with the company’s ethics, disciplined approach and their dedication to their people, the results of which are a low staff turnover rate and continuously improving production efficiencies.

The company places great value on creating a pleasant working environment and the full time on-site clinical services are evidence of the extent to which they care about their people. The management team are committed to up-skilling their employees and, where possible, to making opportunities for personal advancement available. There is a strong customer service focus and a keen environmental awareness. An impressive business and a credible winner.

Business of the Year: SOE 2015:

Umgeni Water.

Umgeni Water is a state-owned enterprise that facilitates water infrastructure planning in the region and provides bulk water services to six municipalities in KZN and two in the Eastern Cape. Serious consideration is being given to Umgeni Water taking responsibility for the bulk water supply and treatment of waste for all the district municipalities in KZN. The judges were impressed to see a state-owned entity being run properly as a business. They indicated that the numbers were very impressive, with revenues continuing to grow and currently standing at R2,2 billion per annum. Profits have increased by 21% to R826 million in the past year and almost doubled in the past three years.

Umgeni Water currently employs some 1 020 people and, since restructuring in early 2000, has evolved a sense of pride and a strong culture of efficiency and accountability. Proper performance management systems are in place and are used to determine and award performance-related bonuses. The new management style is recognised as being both transparent and ethical. They have a graduate programme in which 35 interns are engaged for a two-year period and are presently instituting a “War on Leaks Programme” to provide on-the-job training for 7 000+ plumbers.

Umgeni Water recently celebrated 40 years of service and, despite some turbulence in the middle years, is today an organisation that knows how to sustain itself. A worthy winner!

Small Business of the Year 2015:

PSG Employee Benefits: Midlands.

Originally a home-grown family business started by Tinus and Ann Havinga, it joined the PSG Konsult Group in 2009. The business continued to grow rapidly and has been strengthened by two new partners, Sylvester Appasamy and Malan Vermaak.

It now has offices in Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Johannesburg.

The business operates in three product areas: high net worth, retirement financial planning and medical schemes. The practice owners have total control over business growth and development and the business is now the second largest Employee Benefits Practice in the PSG Konsult Group and has won the PSG Best Healthcare Practice award four times since 2010.

While exceptional growth and financial performance are distinguishing characteristics, the evaluators were also particularly impressed by the very strong service and support ethos prevalent throughout the business, a high level of staff retention, demonstrable commitment to various community social investment initiatives and a reputation for being the most transformed practice in the PSG Group.

- Melanie Veness

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