Business relationships sought

16th July 2004 By: zeena isaacs

East Rand steel merchant Sovereign Steel, which has developed a strategy to set itself apart from other steel merchants by its business strategy model and speedy service, has moved into the next phase of its business model – growth.

MD Anthony Nathan reveals the company is currently considering growth opportunities that challenge industry paradigms.

“We have successfully completed the branding stage, and are well-known in the steel industry for our speedy ser-vice, which, through extensive inter-national benchmarking, we believe is the fastest on earth.

“We are currently looking for business relationships and industry players who share the vision and bring complementary and supplementary strengths to the company,” says Nathan.

He spent five years developing the company’s Formula One-like strategy, encompassing branding and specific employee selection based on its vision and values, which has now entered the growth phase.

The company’s goal to be the fastest and most accurate steel wholesaler is achieved by aligning employees, processes and systems to deliver on this unique business promise; build the business such that it has the capacity to change and evolve with the market; and use technology to facilitate efficiency and change customer expectations; as well as the implementation of a performance management and reward system internally.

Nathan states that the company is able to deliver products within hours of the orders being placed, which is made possible by the company’s structured nervous-system through which orders are processed.

This system involves approving credit, completing and printing the necessary paperwork, and preparing and loading the products a few hours after the order has been placed.

Moreover, Sovereign Steel has adap-ted its warehouse to ease the steps in this process, such that orders can be processed quickly and easily.

According to Nathan, the company has gone a step further to improve customer relations, which is one of its core values, by tailoring its services to suit customers’ individual requirements.

He adds that, through these core values, the company is able to help its customers boost their sales by shortening their cycle times, and thereby improve their competitive advantage, which ultimately raises profitability and locks in customer loyalty.

One of the latest developments at Sovereign Steel, which is in line with the company’s Formula One theme, is a competition in which clients buying products will be entered into a draw to win trips to the 2004 Monza Formula One Grand Prix accompanied by Nathan.

Other developments include the implementation of state-of-the-art technology, which enables visibility throughout the supply chain, allowing employees to push through self-imposed tight deadlines.

“The company has invested in steel-processing equipment, which will add value to an already comprehensive range of steel products.

“We anticipate that this new equipment will present exciting prospects for the company,” says Nathan.

He adds that it identified a need for quick and accurate processing and distribution of steel, as well as a customer-focused approach in the South African steel industry, which led to the creation and development of the Sovereign Steel ‘speed merchants’ brand and positioning. “Traditionally, the steel-distribution fraternity has been by-and-large self-serving, with many local and international companies looking after their own interests to the dismay of customers.

“This space needed to be filled urgently.

“Therefore, the company focuses on customer needs and preferences, while simultaneously addressing the aspirations of staff members,” Nathan explains.

He adds that thousands of customers throughout Africa benefit from its services daily.

It even assists clients, in certain instances, to develop their own business strategies based on the company’s business and strategy methodology to hone its clients’ own competitive prospects and sustainability, and often holds talks and workshops to facilitate this service to each client.

In terms of the company, Nathan says that business has grown in the last few years, with this growth being significantly more than the industry’s growth.

He adds that Sovereign Steel is looking forward to a weakening rand, as it will make exports more globally competitive for local manufacturers, which would, in turn, positively influence job-creation opportunities for South Africans.

“In the meantime, all South African companies are obliged to innovate continuously to remain resilient and ensure sustainability under all circumstances,” Nathan concludes.