Business built on expert service and equipment
SGB-Cape is well-known in South Africa as the biggest “all-in-one” service provider of scaffolding, insulation, industrial painting and related services. The company’s experience and knowledge of its market, combined with its people and resources, make it an excellent go-to for construction services.
SGB-Cape is focused on power stations, refineries, steel and petro-chemical plants, construction and building projects, as well as maritime repairs and industrial installations.
SGB-Cape is a subsidiary of WACO Africa, and is part of an initiative to grow the company’s market offering. WACO Africa assumed ownership of Cape Contracts, Cape Contracts Scaffolding, Insulation Contractors and Reef Industrial Services (hereafter referred to as Cape Contracts) in 2005, and because of WACO’s strategy to offer an integrated product offering, the enterprises were combined to form SGB-Cape, which included the already established SGB Scaffolding Systems (SGB) (a division of WACO Africa). SGB had operated in the scaffolding business since 1948 and so its integration with the companies WACO took over made sense. What’s resulted is an integrated product offering and an ultimately more sustainable operation.
Under the company’s scaffolding services, they offer the following equipment: aerial work platforms, drawings, formwork, generic components, insulation, satellite electric scaffold, boiler access systems, canopy towers, suspended cradle systems etc.
Kobus Visagie, (Managing Director) and Dave Best from SGB-Cape explained that although the core business of SGB was originally scaffolding to domestic and industrial markets, the company is pleased to be able to offer those services as well as thermal insulation, blasting painting, and corrosion protection. As TABJ expected, the company has seen great growth over the past few years, and much of that has to do with the recently ended World Cup—even though things were a little slower during the recession. “The company has grown at a high rate from the mid-1980s, though the last year has not been great, but I think that’s the state worldwide because of the economy,” says Best. “We’ve been quite busy up until now, and with the World Cup being here we were quite busy for that as well,” he adds.
The company has completed seating stands in African cities, and many entertainment-type jobs. They operate on international safety standards and are proud to compete for large international contracts. “We worked on all 10 stadiums for the broadcast of the World Cup. We did big platforms for the media, the elevated commentary boxes and all the camera platforms,” Visagie continues. SGB-Cape’s stage and shows divisions supply temporary seating, platforms and customised scaffolding. A mobile roof and system scaffolding for stages etc., are sourced from Boksburg in Gauteng. The company also offers the SGB-Cape Renta Stand which can be erected, impressively, by three men in 30 minutes.
In terms of the company’s overall business strategy, Visagie says “we intend to maintain scaffolding as the predominant service offer.”
“As such, we have invested a lot of money in scaffold assets to the extent we believe we are the largest stockholding in terms of scaffolding in South Africa by a multiple of at least two to two-and-half of our nearest competitor.”
Best and Visagie agree that what sets them apart is their experience in the industry, and the company’s “ability to come up with solutions.”
The World Cup, though only one of many projects the company has tackled, represents leadership on a large scale by a company that is truly committed. Visagie says “it’s just one of the examples about what one can do if the person and the commitment are there.”
In addition to typical jobs that SGB-Cape performs, the company also works on ships and oil rigs. However, although that part of the company’s business is interesting, according to Visagie and Best, “really the core of our business is the industrial market place, like the refineries, power stations, etc.”
Safety and people
As the company’s growth continues, it supports local communities and people. “We have more than 3,000 tonnes of scaffolding and, on average, more than 500 people,” Visagie says. “One of our achievements is we support local people, employing local labour as much as possible, which we have done throughout our projects. We’ve had to train a lot of people and had to develop of people. We’ve made a lot of differences in people’s lives, who were either out of work or worked in areas where there were no creative prospects for them. I am really happy with that,” he continues.
In 2008 the company received recognition as the principal Safety Contractor of the Year, which is an important milestone for a company in SGB-Cape’s business. “Safety is really the key issue for us. Our philosophy is that we want people to come to work and go home safe,” says Visagie.
“We want to become the preferred employer and preferred contractor because that says a lot beyond the construction business. It means the way we treat and manage our people is important. It means we need to do things with employees with value and building a career at SGB-Cape. To become a preferred contractor means we need to make sure what we do is excellent. Being ethical and honest are key values to our business. It is important for us to respect each other and to respect our clients,” Visagie continues, demonstrating that the values for the company stem from the top.
The business edge
According to SGB-Cape, the company’s competitive edge is delivery. “We are solution-driven,” says Visagie. He adds that the ability of the company to be innovative is imperative to its capacity to drive solutions for clients. With a long-term vision to “ensure sustainability of SGB-Cape for the years to come and to serve the industry,” SGB-Cape continues to serve its clients to the best of the company’s ability. The company appreciates the continued business from its clients and is trying to do whatever possible to improve competitiveness.
Best reasons that a company is only as strong as its people, and therefore, SGB-Cape is at the front of its competition, by attracting and training the right people.
“We are a labour-intense business. You can’t make a computer put up scaffolding. You do need people, and lots of them. We respect that and want to keep employing; we’ve recruited a lot of skills over the years in training people and we are still training now,” he explains.
With the economy improving, and recent sporting events giving SGB-Cape’s business a boost, the company looks poised to be successful as its market expands. But overall, one can expect the very best from the people at SGB-Cape, as Best says: “our key message in business is integrity and honesty.”