Steel construction company B&T Steel is in the pro- cess of erecting a 1 620-m2 floor space workshop featuring the infrastructure for two 10-t cranes and a 3-t crane, as well as double-storey offices, which will be shared by underground mining equipment manufacturer Phillips Mining & Machinery and G&B Mining, in Witbank, Mpumalanga.
The project, subcontracted to B&T by construction contractors Standard Development Projects, started in May with the foundation, excavation and compacting of the site.
The entire structure, complete with chromadek sheeting, is being designed and spray-painted at B&T’s premises, prior to transport in knockdown format and erection on site. The company uses two rough-terrain cranes to assist in executing the project. The workshop is being completed on site with the use of airless spray machines.
Meanwhile, B&T has embarked on a marketing drive in an attempt to tackle bigger projects. Although the company has a factory floor space of 6 000 m2, it has not marketed itself enough, says B&T co-owner Ben Dicks.
He adds that the company has a two-year strategy to win contracts worth about R20-million. This is after B&T has been largely involved in building shopping centres and some agricultural and mining projects. “We want to move in a totally different direction now,” says Dicks.
He adds that the company is investing in advertising campaigns, as well as in expanding its capacity in anticipation of more business opportunities.
B&T has bought in-line drilling and cutoff machines to increase its tonnage significantly. The in-line drilling machine automatically measures and cuts steel, as well as inserts holes around the beam, making it easier for the assemblers. The company also provides a total solution to its clients, including any cladding requirements.
Meanwhile, Dicks explains that the company has erected large chicken houses for farmers in Delmas, in Gauteng. This project consisted of building eight houses with insulation boards and structural steel. These structures are easy for the farmers to assemble.
Further, B&T is busy constructing a 7 000-m2 storage room for maize in Angola.
On the mining front, the company has erected washing bays for a coal mine, as well as an acid plant for a copper mine, in Zambia. These required the use of 20-t overhead cranes.
Dicks hopes to grow the company’s influence in Africa and would like to be involved in designing plants for the agriculture and mining sectors. Further, with increased production capacity and an astute marketing strategy, he says, more opportunities may arise, such as government infrastructure work.
“Every month, we want to increase our production by 100 t. Further, we would like to improve our sandblasting and painting facilities. In total, the company’s expansion plans will cost R20-million, which excludes machinery. The company is also busy improving its skills base,” adds Dicks.
B&T has invested R2-million in an in-house training centre, as well as safety facilities. Further, the company is aiming to achieve black economic- empowerment accreditation.
Fortunately, adds Dicks, B&T has capital to pursue its expansion plans and has been approved for bank finance.
“Currently, the company has a turnover of R80-million. How-ever, the company would like to increase it to R150-million. This is despite a 60% reduction in B&T’s order books last year,” he concludes.