Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  08 Jun 2011

TRANSPORT: United Bulk Grows By Leaps And Bounds


Recent Western Cape Business News

UNITED BULK’s tankers have become a familiar sight on not only South African roads but even beyond its borders in many neighbouring countries, including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. And the reason for this is simple: its fleet of 100 tankers together clock up almost twelve million kilometers per year.

The company, with its head office in Vanderbijlpark and additional depots in Worcester and Durban, is now the largest privately owned bulk liquid transporter in South Africa, in the chemical and food-grade field.

Having been founded in 1996 the company has obviously grown by leaps and bounds in this highly capital intensive environment and is currently showing organic turnover growth of more than 12%, annually, according to general manager Lourens Roux.

However, he points out, the company does not measure its success in the number of trucks it operates (although it has been adding to the figure niftily during the past number of years) but rather in how well it complies with the vision of being the preferred supplier of bulk liquid transport in Southern Africa. “Biggest is not always best,” he says.

Here it scores well – its customer base is made up of 75% blue chip companies, for example. It also has many smaller potentially future blue-chip companies.

United Bulk specialises in providing a solution to any liquid transport requirement, whether the product is agricultural, chemical, food grade, petrochemical, acid, LPG and anhydrous ammonia. Most recent developments include venturing into new markets including the transportation of bulk LPG and the collection of raw milk from farms.

We have many competitive edges, one being that we are not scared of growth. Ironically the recession of 2008/2009 was one of the best growth periods ever”, Roux says.

During that time most all of its clients were cutting costs, mainly by cutting stock to the bare minimum. This was to our good fortune, because just in time deliveries, in which United Bulk excels, became a key service requirement. Also, because we have a flat management structure with quicker decision making and more flexibility than our major competitors, we could deliver a better service which enabled us to grow our business. Many smaller competitors also fell by the wayside”, Roux explains.

He says United Bulk’s competitive edge too lies in the quality of its staff and the ability to retain them. This is largely due to a good induction programme and a freedom of choice management style.

In addition the diversified range of tankers and combinations allows for much flexibility. United Bulk also strives for long term and mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers, of which some are as old as the company is.

Other key ingredients for the company’s success are that it truly believes in broad based black economic empowerment. The current BBBEE score is that of level 5 as audited by NERA. Its aim for 2012 is to achieve level 4 or better.

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