Steel supplier BBD Steel aims to expand its footprint by targeting the mining and automotive sectors directly, says BBD Steel business development director Gwen Mahuma.
The company, which is 100% women-owned and managed, is located in Rosslyn, Pretoria, and, although already well-established in the local rail sector, is also aiming to sell directly to the automotive industry, rather than supplying them indirectly.
“The fact that we are in the heartland of the automotive industry is a perfect springboard for us to get into a market that we have previously not been in. As we are the exclusive distributor of steel major Allied Steelrode’s Allied Steelrode Stretcher Material product in the Pretoria North region, we are pushing hard to promote this iconic stretcher-levelled steel – which is perfectly flat and therefore well-suited to automotive manufacturing requirements (and to many other applications in the general manufacturing and fabrication sectors) – to our key target market segments,” she tells Engineering News.
The company is also putting significant effort into becoming accredited to sell its products to mines, she adds.
The majority of BBD Steel’s clients are in Gauteng, but the company also supplies to clients in Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal; Bloemfontein, in the Free State; and Salt River, in the Western Cape. Mahuma adds that the company will establish branches if an increasing client base should require such action.
Further, the company set up a training company, Mokotladi Trading, in July last year. It is 51%-owned by two black women and 49% by BBD Steel. All in-house, internal training is done through Mokotladi Trading, which is provided on an outsourced basis, until it is fully accredited.
“Regarding our investment in internal training, it is important for BBD Steel to get our employees to a certain level where they can provide better service to clients,” notes Mahuma. Steel is an extremely competitive industry and the local industry is facing many challenges, such as constrained demand and load-shedding, and so the only way to excel and stay ahead is to ensure that BBD Steel offers a better level of service than its competitors, she adds. This training is done in many areas, from reception and communication skills to logistics, forklift driving and welding skills training.
BBD Steel has a focused talent management strategy, whereby the company identifies employees who have the potential to benefit from training and development. One such employee has not only attended in-house training at BBD Steel, but was selected to attend junior management training at Wits Business School, which BBD won as part of their South African Premier Business Award in the Women-Owned Businesses category, from the Department of Trade and Industry in 2018.
In addition to this, one of the specific training areas Mokotladi Trading will focus on is logistics, because efficient logistics are crucial for BBD as a steel merchant, she explains.
Mahuma mentions that Mokotladi Trading will be applying for the requisite training accreditation in due course. The outsourced training is currently focused on BBD Steel employees, but external training will be offered when the company gets accreditation.