Pegging down success

2014-05-20 00:00

DLOZI Msimang’s Mavukani Trading has become a leading tent and marquee manufacturer in the country, and one of the biggest employers in Pietermaritzburg’s biggest suburb, Edendale.

Dlozi’s factory’s based on the site of Selby Msimang in Scott Street, a place that has a rich heritage in the city’s history, including Nichols Primary School — a school that Chief Albert Luthuli attended — and where many struggle heroes resided. Scott Street was also home to Joel Msimang, who founded the United Methodist Church.

However, there’s little sign of these auspicious beginnings as one travels down Scott Street today.

But there is significant activity and industry at Mavukani Trading factory, where more than 80 people are employed on a casual and permanent basis.

Small food vendors have set up opposite the factory, vehicles and people are moving in and out of the gates, and there are customers being attended to in the reception office.

Today Mavukani designs, makes, hires out and sells tents, marquees and tarpaulins to a large number of clients, in KZN, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape and in some other African countries.

The clients include municipalities and other government agencies, churches, military and anybody else who requires their products. The company has also diversified into drapings, chairs and tables, and the manufacture of cold rooms and mobile toilets for events.

The company also recently secured loan funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) (facilitated through IDC PMB branch) for acquiring equipment and aluminium, so that it could make tents and marquees using aluminium frameworks and structures.

“We needed to change with the demands of our clients … Look how much better this marquee looks using aluminium supports,” he says as we walk through his factory.

Msimang says demand for tents and marquees is strong and the fact that the company both hires out and makes the product, makes it less susceptible to periods of weak trading. “When one part of the business is down, the other side is usually up,” he says.

He says the company is also investigating setting up branches in Johannesburg and the Eastern Cape and that by the end of another five years, “we will have a much bigger company”. “The people are benefiting here. Most of the staff simply walk to work, they are from here. I often tell people, ‘Why do you want to set up a business far away when you can set it up close to where the people live and can benefit most?’”

When asked what advice he would give to young people, he says they should get out of the mind-set of looking for a job once they have finished their education.

“They must do the research and find a business they can start on their own. That way they can create jobs and create a sustainable tax base for the country. The government has made opportunities available for this, it just takes the research,” he says.

Msimang says he started the business after a friend advised him to rather buy the equipment to make the tent that had he intended to buy. At the time, Msimang owned a supermarket.

He did some research, realised he could get a loan virtually unsecured from KwaZulu-Natal Ithala Development Finance Corporation, and decided it was an opportunity he could not miss. He started Mavukani and later closed the supermarket.

Another key expansion area has been the building of an ambulance with the design and manufacturing approval of Mercedes-Benz — the company plans to sell more of these in future.

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