Motors and controls manufacturer WEG’s subsidiary, Zest WEG Group, on Wednesday announced that it has achieved Level 1 status under the Broad-Based Black Economic-Empowerment (BBBEE) Codes of Good Practice.
The achievement follows just over a year after Zest WEG reached Level 2 status, in September 2017, which CEO Louis Meiring said “speaks volumes in terms of our commitment to ensuring that our company remains a high-level and professional organisation”.
Zest WEG was awarded the certificate by a South African National Accreditation System-accredited black-owned verification agency.
Speaking to Mining Weekly Online on the sidelines of this year’s Electra Mining Africa, in Johannesburg, Meiring highlighted that the company has been working actively on being BBBEE-compliant for several years.
The business, he noted, has always been proactive about transformation and has built the BBBEE compliance goals into its business culture.
This business culture, Meiring elaborated, meant that the company needed to have a different way of doing business, and needed to have a different strategy that emphasised Zest WEG’s new direction, despite facing some headwinds in terms of adapting to regulations and adjusting the business accordingly.
“We realised that it’s not possible to be conducting the level of business that we have in South Africa, if we are not compliant,” he said.
Zest WEG Group logistics and operations director Juliano Vargas added that the organisation’s close relationship with communities allows for the identification and nurturing of talent from an early stage.
The group develops skills internally through apprenticeships, internships and mentoring in various disciplines, which is also sometimes supported with study bursaries.
The company, Vargas told Mining Weekly Online, works hard to bring small, local suppliers into the Zest WEG Group’s value chain by developing their capacity to deliver and to become sustainable.
“Through our involvement with small business incubators, we even select and support small enterprises before they are able to become our suppliers,” he said.
The pillars that form the basis of BEE, Vargas pointed out, are local development of communities, businesses and suppliers, and a focus on developing the skills of employees and suppliers.
This is not without challenges, he said, noting that the biggest challenge in the industry is to embrace compliance, while reinforcing the logic that this is what is needed for the development and upskilling of local South African communities.
This, Vargas pointed out, was not a very difficult challenge for Zest WEG, which had to innovate and “think outside the box”.
“To achieve this, you have to question where you are buying from and where these [companies’] participation in the community is. You have to consider whether they are BEE-compliant, and what they are doing to help develop the community”.
Looking ahead, Meiring enthused that Zest WEG will now be entering the steam turbine sector, as well as the renewable energy space, and wind and solar specifically.
“This is a very exciting start for us, and we’re looking forward to talking more, in the near future, about our activities and what we’re planning to do,” he said.
However, while the BBBEE Level 1 status is “the most recognizable achievement of the year” for Zest WEG, according to Vargas, the company also achieved ISO9001 certification.
This, he said, makes Zest WEG one of 112 certified companies under the latest version of ISO.
Only 2 200 companies in South Africa are ISO9001 certified, he said, adding that this demonstrates the company’s “continuous commitment to improve”.