Stainless steel cylinder manufacturer Jooste Cylinder & Pump Company has implemented various measures, such as delaying research and development (R&D) projects, to assist staff as much as possible and “keep the doors open” amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“Jooste re-invests much of its income in new product development and the automation of our production facilities,” Jooste MD Conleth Costigan tells Engineering News.
The company experienced a sudden loss of income, as demand for its products and services immediately declined after the national lockdown, consequently depleting vital cash reserves.
This is despite its polyurethane division, which manufactures components for various industries, as well as major mining companies, receiving orders.
“However, capital is needed to fulfil these orders and we have to be conservative during this uncertain period to ensure continuation,” explains Costigan.
With the country having entered Level 4 lockdown on May 1, stainless steel manufacturers were permitted to operate at 50% capacity. To prepare for operation, Jooste briefed management to ensure that all heads of department were up to date on the safe working practices required by government during the crisis.
All staff was briefed on the company’s state of affairs, which included financials, safety, health, environment and quality; they were also issued with the required personal protective equipment and cleansing chemicals.
Working areas have also been segregated, says Costigan.
“We have adopted a culture of: ‘How can I prevent spreading the virus?’ and introduced a customer interaction policy to ensure that we do as much as possible to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.”
However, to guarantee its survival beyond the crisis, Jooste has adopted a financially conservative approach, resulting in staff being placed on short time. This is owing to limited orders and current high stock levels to allow for fast and efficient servicing of customers.
The company’s staff share available working hours, so every member has an opportunity to earn an income.
Nonetheless, Jooste remains positive and will persevere to ensure the continuation of the business for the benefit of generations to come, says Costigan.
The company is also continually reviewing new ways of operating through innovation and discussions.
“This does not exclude new business ventures if we see an opportunity,” states Costigan.
Agriculture remains a significant market for the company and, as the sector is put under greater pressure to produce and supply food by not only the private sector but also government-funded requisitions, there is a higher than usual demand for Jooste’s agricultural products.
However, this is not reflected in orders, says Costigan, as most of the company’s supply chain, despite supplying essential services, were closed during Level 5 of the lockdown.
“The current lack of orders is also a direct result of timing. Our wholesalers have expenses, no income and large stockholdings, but still have to honour their agreement with debtors.
“We are monitoring our sales closely, but expect an upswing at the end of May or in early June.”
Prior to lockdown, Costigan says, more people were reviving windmills and investing in new installations, especially on small holdings, owing to nostalgia.
“Besides nostalgia, a windmill using a Jooste cylinder is still the most reliable and economical method of extracting water from the ground over a long period.”
In general, all spare parts for Jooste cylinders are available and to date more than 150000 cylinders have been produced for the agricultural market.
Certain cylinder sizes, such as the AS60 and AS70, are also fast movers,as people change from using the old brass with leather cup washer system to the Jooste stainless steel option.
Jooste also sells a significant number of its award-winning float valves or Vlotterkleppe.
“These are used in animal drinking troughs, but also water storage tanks across the country, as they can quickly deliver a large volume of water and have different installation options.”
There has also been a steady increase in the sale of the Jooste handpump and cylinder combination, owing to demand from nonprofit organisations, various sponsors as well as government for projects in rural areas.