Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  16 Jun 2010

VENTURES: The Rise And Rise Of Syncorp


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE rise and rise of Syncorp on the South African plastics recycling firmament has become a major talking point over the past couple of years. And no wonder.

Their production, already impressive, has more than doubled in that time, with the potential for even further expansion. As a result they will shortly be moving from their 4 700 sq m. Epping factory to the old Sans building in Bellville, giving them an impressive working space of some 11 500 sq m.

The move, says managing director Theo Willemse, will begin in August, when brand new machinery ordered from overseas will move straight in and start work in the Bellville premises. But the business has to keep working seven days a week 24 hours a day, so the transfer of other equipment will be phased in over a period of possibly a full year before the move is complete. Syncorp’s injection moulding operation, on the other hand, will be transferred to the new building within three days and will carry on working straight away.

Syncorp’s progress, informed by a very thorough knowledge of the recycling industry overseas and the available state of the art technology, has been meteoric. They started out with an initial investment of
R26 million, employing 40 people at their premises in Epping, producing mainly polypro-pylene (PP) and high density polypropylene (HDPP) granules at the rate of 535 tons a month.

Today they employ 160 people working on a 24 hour seven days a week (24/7) basis - their Austrian injection moulder, the Engel, works unattended throughout the night - producing over
1 000 tons a month. And with more heavily printed metallised polypropylene film (BOPP) now becoming available, they expect to be able to double that amount, producing a high quality 100% recyclable product with a much cleaner carbon footprint than other local recycled products. And because of the higher quality, their product commands a higher premium.

Retail giant Woolworths has recently become a major customer. Woolworths flowers seem better, and last longer than those sold elsewhere, says Willemse.

And this is because of the special qualities of the sanitised black plastic buckets in which they are sold, supplied by Syncorp. After conducting trials, Woolworths have bought 10 000 of these buckets - a supreme gesture of confidence in Syncorp quality.

Getting enough suitable waste has been a problem, Willemse says. But adequate quantities have now been sourced, and Syncorp has bought a new Austrian-built Erema extruder, together with new ‘down stream’ equipment, and equipment such as dosing units and chiller plants, at a cost of close to R20 million.

A heavy outlay, of course. But this new technology can be used to recycle heavily printed and metallised BOPP film, which has been a waste problem in South Africa, and output will increase almost immediately to some 1 300 tons. The new investment will help to expand Syncorp’s operations through the country, and its planned expansion in the next few years into other African countries.

How does such as amazing story come about? Very simply, says Willemse. What you need is:

Common sense - (or a few brains and some imagination, CBN adds)

The willingness to work hard 24 hours a day 7 days a week

And to enjoy doing it!

Willemse really seems to do this. The day he saw CBN he had just got off an overseas flight and gone straight from the airport to an urgent appointment in Somerset West. Yet following on from that, he was as fresh as a daisy. A point he also mentions is the importance of hiring good people and treating them fairly. He is in the process at the moment of creating a 25.1% BEE entity for his 160 employees, giving them a real stake in the company.

It makes sense, he says, and the truth of this is reflected in the happy faces one sees at Syncorp. With the company on a spectacular upward path, why wouldn’t they be smiling?

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