Innovative pipes from South Africa to Soccer City
What once started as a small, family run manhole company over thirty years ago has grown, with steady hard work and determination, into a thriving concrete product business today. Salberg started in 1972 by David and Rick Salberg, both passionate engineers and entrepreneurs.
The precast concrete manhole industry, the core focus of Salberg Concrete Products (Pty), was chosen because it was being neglected by the pipe industry as a nuisance and so there was a gap in the market for such products. Salberg brought this into the mainstream by drawing up specifications for standardized components and set up a plant to manufacture as well as supplying lifting equipment for ease of handling.
Over the years the company has grown immensely and created and patented many other products aside from concrete manholes. This includes, fire watch towers up to 45 meters high, high capacity kerb inlet structures, direct series water filtration plant and the slotted drain.
The precast concrete manhole was an extremely important contribution by David Salberg, who almost singlehandedly developed the specified precast manhole system that is used widely throughout South Africa today.
Years after the conceptualization of the concrete manhole system, Salberg entered into the concrete pipe industry in 2002. Since then the company has been a major player in the concrete pipe industry market.
Salberg flourished and grew as a family business and decided this year that the company would be run by professional management. “The company is going from strength to strength. We’ve become lean and mean, compared to what we used to be. It is an extremely lean organization,” says Preston.
A tribute to David Salberg
The late David Salberg, one of the brainchilds of the operation, was an influential figure in the company until he passed away at the age of 79-years-old. His positive impact and work ethic still echoes throughout the company today.
Norman Preston Managing Director of Salberg says, “In that time, he has developed some very unique concrete products through his engineering knowledge.”
Preston adds, “We’d like to pay a tribute to the late David Salberg for the innovation he presented. He was a great entrepreneur.”
Salberg’s influence in the industry, and to the company, will permanently resonate throughout the business and he will always be recognized as a major innovator in the industry.
The World Cup brought an immense amount of infrastructure and currency to the South African landscape. Many businesses were positively influenced by the games, Salberg being one of them. With an immediate need for new infrastructure to the soccer stadiums to support the games and fans, Salberg was brought in to supply drainage. It was a major project for Salberg to date and further solidified its stronghold in the South African drainage industry.
“During the World Cup, we supplied all the drainage for what is now known as Soccer City. It was quite a large and noteworthy project. That project took about four months,” says Preston.
Another noteworthy drainage project that Salberg is currently working on is a rubberized pipe that would be an original addition to the pipe industry.
Preston says, “It is something the industry needs in terms of sewage lines. It helps to avoid degradation of the concrete.”
Outside of the drainage marketplace, Salberg has also recently been building fire watch towers. Preston says, “It is extremely innovative. We are using 1,500 manholes and stacking one on top of each other—using them in the guard tower and security industry.”
The company which started with only four key players, has grown over time to 133 workers.
Preston notes, that regardless of the flourishing period the World Cup brought forth, the economy plays a vital role in how the company stays afloat and fluctuates. Efficiency is key to Salberg’s success in the midst of an inconsistent economy.
The bulk of Salberg’s products are sold locally because of their weight. Preston adds however, “Typically our market is limited though we have sent products as far as Botswana. We want to remain a player in the industry while also seeing ourselves grow.”
The company is a major innovator in the concrete products arena and it prides itself on the quality goods it provides and the major work it has done for events like the World Cup.
“We want to be seen as an innovator and there is proof of that with Soccer City. We’ve got a patented product that we put in and it is working well,” says Preston. “We are prepared to go the extra mile in terms of being that innovator. It appears that things in the economy are beginning to pick up.”
For Salberg innovation is crucial to company triumph and it is obvious with the pride and quality it puts into everything it does. From notable projects like the drainage system at the mammoth Soccer City at this year’s World Cup, to new innovative products like rubber drainage, Salberg is a front runner in the industry that has shown commitment to its craft for over thirty years.