Alumnus Simon Meyer on the incubator project at Steel Best Manufacturing in PE
Steel Best Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd is a company that marches to a different tune. The engineering manufacturing sector is a tough environment to gain a foothold in. In the almost three years of their existence, Steel Best Manufacturing has placed the development of people first. As a company Steel Best understands that with Industry 4.0 now banging on our collective doors, the differentiator will ultimately be the people driving the sector.
In one of its most ambitious projects to date, Steel Best Manufacturing has spearheaded the establishment of the Steel Best Manufacturing Tooling and Design Engineering Incubator. This incubator is unique in the sense that it seeks to provide SMME’s and individuals with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the engineering manufacturing sector. Needless to say, as a company, we have had our own share of challenges gaining a foothold in this competitive sector, and we wanted to provide a leg-up to aspiring mechanical engineering designers and innovators. It is the intention of the company to increase the number of entrants in this sector and in so doing build a community of design engineering and manufacturing excellence.
Many large Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) such as Volkswagen South Africa, Toyota and Nissan look to design expertise almost exclusively outside of South Africa. The incubator wants to drive the development of a design capability that will rival International capabilities and drive OEM’s to assign design projects to South African and specifically Eastern Cape design companies.
Steel Best posits that the outputs from a single designer has the potential to create at least 12 additional engineering manufacturing jobs further down the value chain. It is this multiplier effect that Steel Best wants to build on in its job creation efforts. Additionally, with more local design coupled with local standards and materials comes a greater potential for locally based steel mills and engineering companies to increase their production.
The incubator is managed by Simon Meyer, one of the USB Alumni who had back in 2007 completed the Executive Development Programme. Simon joined Steel Best Manufacturing, initially heading its sales and marketing team. But once the incubator project was conceived, Simon grabbed the opportunity to manage the incubator. With the Steel Best Manufacturing Chief Operations Officer, Clyde Erasmus, they were able to unlock funding with the Department of Small Business Development to start up the incubator.
The interest from partner organisations has been overwhelming. From local academic institutions such as TVET colleges and the University to government and private companies, Steel Best Manufacturing has found a very keen interest in the Incubator. In as much as the incubator will provide services within the Automotive Sector initially, they have not excluded the potential to engage other sectors such as Aerospace and Maritime.
As an SMME Steel Best Manufacturing is punching well above its weight to create opportunities for South Africans. What will your company do?