Serving South Africa’s logistical needs

Finding an all-encompassing service for the South African distribution sector is not a job that comes easy. However, this distribution specialist, Vital Distribution Solutions, is a one stop shop for a variety of distribution and logistical needs in South Africa. The company—with its head office based in Johannesburg—has an array of useful services including transhipment, transport services and warehousing. It maintains a high level of integrity with its dependability and cost-effective prices.

Mike Head, Business Development and Marketing Manager, says, “Essentially we are known as a third-party logistics provider for customers who have manufacturing concerns.” With various facilities throughout South Africa and a recent expansion into Namibia, there has been extensive growth for the company in recent years.

In 2008, Excellerate Holdings purchased 37.4 per cent of Vital Distribution Solutions. Excellarate’s role in the business is to provide financial support and help the company grow. Excellerate is an investment holding company that is listed on the JSE, with three main divisions of its respective business—trading and distribution, services, and light manufacturing.

Notable projects

Vital Distribution Solutions is working on a number of noteworthy projects that exemplify its wide-ranging expertise. One main project for Vital Distribution Solutions is a large manufacturing company based in Zimbabwe. Head says, “The manufacturing company has production facilities in Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We are looking at going into the country and managing the distribution, based on a joint venture.” Head notes that in Zimbabwe, infrastructure development has been slow over the past few years. “The company that we are dealing with is focusing on infrastructure, rather than walls and wheels.”

Vital Distribution Solutions is working on various contracts with a South African retail clothing line that could have promising results. The company has already created a name for itself in the distribution sector with its various projects, but has goals for expansion. “Our ambition is to grow into other sectors within the South African business environment,” says Head. “Amongst others, we’d like to explore the chemicals and packaging sectors. We are focused on fast moving consumer goods and retail, and that is where 90 per cent of our business lies. but we are trying to push into these other markets.”

Services

The company’s main service offering is local and long distance distribution, as well as warehouse management. “Beyond that we have transhipment facilities in most of the major centres where we transport our principle stocks.” The company has a fleet of vehicles in Polokwane, just north of Johannesburg, where it can do distribution to these country areas. Further to this we have similar service offerings in Nelspruit and Klerksdorp. “We aim to expand our transhipment facilities to other major centres in the near future.”

Vital Distribution Solutions also provides warehousing services for its various clients. It has multi-principle facilities that it owns and the company also offers medium- to long-term bulk storage in those facilities if the client requires. “The other element of warehousing we do is managing the ownership of the actual buildings,” says Head.

Commitment to social responsibility

The company is a firm believer in broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE). It is a central focus for the company and it works toward transforming the socioeconomic landscape where the benefits of economic growth create equality to all societal sectors.

In order to ensure these goals are reached, the company has appointed a corporate responsibility manager whose job is to work within the BBBEE landscape, in addition to ensuring that the company stays environmentally friendly.

The company states, “Vital Distribution Solutions is currently a Level 4 contributor using the generic scorecard but has, however, committed to reaching a Level 6 by the end of 2011. Focus is being placed specifically on growth and development of previously disadvantaged groups, the identification of management material and related management development.”

Within these management development programs, the company has 10 staff that are on “learnerships”, as well as 10 other staff in skills programs. “We believe theoretical training with practical application builds solid skills that can be utilized immediately. Individuals will be mentored by the current management to ensure speedy adaptation where needed,” states the company.

For 2011, Vital Distribution Solutions has goals of focusing on internal skills transfer. This will occur in the form of classroom sessions, mentoring, cross training within and across departments. “Staff will be encouraged to develop themselves as far as possible and taught to take ownership of their development on a daily basis. Three staff members are about to enter their second year of correspondence study and a further four have been selected to begin studying this year, all paid for by Vital Distribution Solutions,” states the company.

The company also supports different social initiatives including organizations such as Rotary, Chubby Chums, Oliver House and Sparrow Ministries. Vital Distribution Solutions donated stationary, clothing, electrical equipment and toiletries to these organizations.

Head notes that the company stands out from its competitors in a number of ways. “I believe what puts Vital apart is that we are not a corporate environment. We are not a small player but also not the biggest and we have an entrepreneurial approach to business,” he says. “We have an entrepreneurial spirit and our clients enjoy that because decisions are quick and it doesn’t have to go through a lot of red tape.”

This entrepreneurial take on business, its commitment to social responsibility, and the company’s notable projects has made Vital Distribution Solutions a stand out company in the South African distribution sector.