Leaders in a league of their own
It is refreshing and inspiring – a story of development and growth making its way through Africa. What started out as a small, back yard plant hire business 15 years ago is now a leading engineering service company operating out of several Southern and Central African countries with eyes set on exciting plans for the future.
Teichmann currently operates an extensive fleet of over 475 units of quality, heavy earth moving machinery which is operated by well-trained personnel and supported by a state-of-the-art workshop. From just basic gravel road construction, Teichmann now offer a full spectrum of civil engineering services, including roads and bulk earthworks, bridges, dams etc. In agriculture their services include everything from bush clearing and land preparation work to laser levelling and finally planting. Infrastructure to support such operations includes haulage, building and clearing of canals and dams. More recently contract mining has been added to their expansive portfolio.
At the heart of the Teichmann phenomena is a compelling story of two young penniless college mates who pooled their energies and skills and collaborated to realize their dreams. Gary Teichmann followed his path of playing rugby and went on to captain the Springbok team for several successive and successful seasons. His humble approach both on and off the field earned him wide respect and recognition as a world-class captain and a man of integrity. In the meantime, visionary entrepreneur and great friend, James te Riele began work in earnest setting up the plant hire venture. What followed is testimony to his passion, innovation and commitment to a professional service for the benefit of all stakeholders – clients and employees alike.
As founding partners and company directors, both te Riele and Teichmann (who joined the company on a full time basis after his retirement from Rugby in 2001) are personally involved with each project, giving clients the assurance of a dedicated and focused team and the company’s accountability for each stage of the project. They credit their success largely to the value they place in relationships with their team and partners. “Our most important asset is our people” says Teichmann, “so that we can provide an uncompromising commitment to service and support excellence.”
“One of the things we insisted on in the beginning was honesty and integrity in all our business,” Teichmann explains. “That’s played a huge role in our partnerships. We’ve always ensured that we maintain that honesty and it starts at the top. That’s why our clients always come back to us—we have a hands-on approach.” Working with integrity and being hands-on, has allowed Teichmann to successfully adapt to operating in numerous countries across Africa.
However, that’s not to say that conducting business operations in various countries doesn’t have its own challenges. “Africa is very remote which makes logistics such as getting the parts, people and equipment to sites sometimes challenging. “Understanding Africa, its people, different cultures and the way business is done is also very challenging and as a result it is important to choose partners that have similar business principals and are committed to social responsibilities,” says te Riele. Paramount to Teichmann’s strategy is to remain as independent as possible, “In order to have an edge in Africa you have to be flexible and to be flexible you have to be independent” says te Riele.
“We are not conventional in our approach to business and the way we think,” he continues. Convention certainly has not been the path for Teichmann, who look to roads less travelled for growth. “We look for business where there is not as steep competition and in strategic areas where other construction companies opt not to tread,” te Riele adds, validating the company’s approach to managing growth.
Equipment and quality assurance
Probably the second most important ingredient to Teichmann’s success (after its people) is the company’s state-of-the-art equipment. The company ensures that all their equipment meets environmental standards and that every piece is as new as possible. According to te Riele, “We don’t run any of our equipment, by practise, longer than 8 000 hours, because we want to keep our equipment very current. We also ensure that the equipment we purchase is from reputable companies,” adds te Riele. Under its plant hire and plant sales operations, Teichmann also refurbishes equipment and sells it back to the industry, ensuring the cycle of business continues.
The company is sure to operate within a strict health and safety protocol, as well as quality compliance assurance—guaranteeing that everything will be done to the best quality possible. The work Teichmann does is complemented by the superior equipment they use and the people that work for the business. Their protocols ensure “the safety of our employees as well as consideration and protection of the environment. Safety will never be compromised,” Teichmann concludes.
If the past is anything to go by – the future of Teichmann looks very bright indeed. “We’re looking for sectors to complement our core business and we see enormous potential in the agricultural sector in Africa,” says te Riele. With their sights set on diversification and the acquisition of mineral assets, this is sure to be an interesting story to follow.