Heunis Steel: quality, service and passion

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo

Local manufacturer Heunis Steel is a vibrant and reputable business that prides itself on providing quality products and service despite the negative effects of the impending economic recession

Heunis Steel is a leader in its industry, with deep roots in the past and a modern outlook on the future of local manufacturing.

“We have been around for 47 years and know the game,” says Heunis’s national sales and marketing director, Martin Carelse, “so our brand is well-known for being the smart choice.”

Heunis’s business is simple: the company profiles galvanised sheet metal, then sells and distributes its products to a large client base in the building industry throughout South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, and Namibia.

How the process works

The raw material around which Heunis’s entire product line is based is galvanised steel. Heunis purchases sheet metal from Arcelor Mittal South Africa (AMSA), has it slit into certain girths, and from those girths, the company profiles certain products, like gutters, rainwater harvesting tanks and trap doors.

In the company’s plant on the western border of Pretoria, there are three profiling plants, each of which is responsible for a different profile. The rainwater goods plant deals with gutters, downpipes, tanks, and the like, the roof sheeting plant profiles corrugated iron and inverted box rib (IBR) roofing, and the ceiling plant profiles ceiling strips.

In September 2009, Heunis Steel acquired Barak Products (Ltd) Pty, which allowed the company to add ceiling products to its range and brand. This acquisition has been a success story on its own.

Heunis is a company that prides itself on quality. According to Carelse, Heunis's galvanised steel geyser trays are the only ones on the market that bear the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) mark, and they carry a five year warranty.

All about people

The management team at Heunis places a lot of emphasis on the people they employ. About 175 people work on the manufacturing side, many of whom are trained in-house. The staff at Heunis Steel are trained in-house on an ongoing basis to ensure proper skills development and upliftment. This is something the company is often forced to do because of a general lack of skilled workers. “Sheet metal working, as a profession, has become quite ‘watered down’. In the past, a plumber would have to study sheet metal working as part of their trade. That doesn’t happen anymore,” Carelse says.

The Heunis management team tries to automate as many processes as can be automated, in order to streamline the profiling processes and make them more efficient. “We’ve got machines that you just actually have to cut the steel and load it,” Carelse says.

Read the full feature in Plumbing Africa March 2016, page 62.

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