New factory to provide 160 jobs

Joining forces with local business Commercial Marine, Woodline will work extremely close with this supplier of quality stainless steel products and fittings. Their umbrellas will be sold at the Commercial Marine Shop. Woodline was started by Fritz Wa

WHOEVER said that to oversleep is a bad thing, has not yet discovered the story behind one of the world’s leading international umbrella manufacturers now firmly rooted in Jeffreys Bay.

It was just that, that did the trick in secu-ring the relocation of the R30-million Woodline Shade Solutions, an umbrella production factory, from Johannesburg to Smith Town just outside Jeffreys Bay - creating some 160 job opportunities.

“Relocating our headquarters and manufacturing to Jeffreys Bay is not only a strategic move that make good business sense, but one that will bring opportunities to an area which is incredibly rich in natural resources and skilled labour,” says Namibian-born businessman Fritz Walter (55), Woodline’s founder and CEO.

According to Walter, 80 job opportunities will be created during the initial phase, while this number will double when fully operational.

“From our new factory we plan to offer exceptional service to match our outstanding quality. It will be a great advantage having two international harbours and an international airport to service our customers around the world right on our doorstep,” says Walter who has a degree in Marine Engineering. He designs the modern-styled umbrellas and overseas production and packaging.

It is hoped that this world-class factory, which exports to 46 countries, comes on stream in March next year - giving the local economy a welcome boost.

Why Jeffreys?

According to Walter, his passion for the Eastern Cape and a desire for a family-friendly environment after his best friend died from a heart attack, are two of the main reasons he chose to build the factory in Jeffreys Bay.

“I was searching for months on end from Coega to Humansdorp for the perfect location for Woodline,” says Walter. “It is by pure luck that I stumbled across the former Sasko factory situated in Smith Town.

“My wife, Melissa, is an avid mountain bike rider. One morning she overslept and I took her to join the group she was riding with that specific morning. On our way to the meeting point, we drove past the then dilapidated Sasko building.”

Woodline Shade Solutions

Established in 1989, Woodline is the dominant shade supplier in Africa. They furthermore produce parasols for a host of internatinal customers.

With this firm foundation in exports and a good grasp on the contract market, now bolstered by the new factory, Woodline is stepping out into the light as one of the world’s foremost OEM manufacturers of quality parasols.

Woodline produces all the parts of their products in-house: wood work, stainless steel, steel, aluminium, assembly, cutting, sewing, and screen printing.

Fuelled by the enjoyment of the outdoors, it is no surprise that care for the environment is an integral part of Woodline’s philosophy. “Given our close connection with the outdoors we are devoted to the responsible management of our impact on the environment,” says Walter. This ranges from the careful consideration of natural lighting and the use of renewable energy.

“A healthy environment is essential for a prosperous future, which is why we do it responsibly where it counts in everything we do,” says Walter.

They furthermore provide a vegetable garden to support their employees.

Partnering with local businesses

Joining forces with local business Commercial Marine, Woodline will work extremely close with this supplier of quality stainless steel products and fittings.

Woodline and Commercial Marine will share offices situated behind the Commercial Marine Store in Da Gama Road with state of the art equipment and personalised customer support servicing both local and internatio-nal markets.

With a keen interest in protecting the environment the offices have a water harvesting programme and make use of natural lighting to save power.