Andy Cab, a Cape Town-based manufacturer of a wide range of canopies for bakkies, was in serious financial trouble in the early-2000s and needed urgent rescue.
Derek Caldicott, managing director, and a few colleagues decided to buy out the 20-year old company because they recognised its growth potential despite being capital- and labour-intensive.
The new company owners quickly put a new business model in place and overhauled its organisational structure. They also moved premises. A new dawn seemed imminent. “But we didn’t realise exactly how capital-intensive the sector was,” Caldicott says.
Following a presentation by the company’s auditor, Andy Cab approached MCEP for support to fund these plans. The rest is history.
MCEP funding put to productive use
Its funding application was successful and the money was used to upgrade the factory and improve infrastructure at its factory in Epping, Cape Town, and offices in Johannesburg.
The MCEP funding allowed Andy Cab to invest in moulds, air vents and spray booths and expanding its premises for increased production.
“We spent a lot on getting good moulds. A good mould means you can have a good product. Each brand of bakkie has a specific mould; and there are four or five types of canopies for each brand of bakkie,” Caldicott says.
Andy Cab canopies are rugged, durable, waterproof and have features to safeguard the cargo. These canopies are suited for both commercial and private vehicles.
Sales take place through dealerships countrywide, meaning that vehicle manufacturers have to approve the component. This places huge pressure on producing high-quality goods with a high standard of workmanship.
Working with local suppliers
Remarkably, Andy Cab works with local suppliers to produce its high-quality canopies.
“We source about 95% of our products locally,” Caldicott says. “The resin we use comes from two producers in Durban; the windows and handles come from component manufacturers in Johannesburg; and we make the [fibreglass] canopies here and ship them around the country.”
The advantage of working with local manufacturers, he says, is that if there’s a problem, it can be fixed quickly. “It is easy to go back to the source.”
“Our main concern is transport. Bakkie canopies are an unusual shape and are difficult to package and ship without damaging them. At the moment, we wrap and truck them, but it would be ideal if we could ship them on freight rail, using the old Epping train lines.”
Each plant in the purpose-built industrial area has a rail line directly to the local station.
Employee health and safety
Proper ventilation at the company’s production facility was essential for employees’ health and safety. The solution is a simple system: fresh air is pumped into the factory overhead, while the used air is pumped out near the ground. Besides a faint chemical odour, the factory is a clean bright space.
Caldicott concludes: “MCEP really does help. It has been better than I expected in terms of assisting you. Its officers check you are spending your funds on the right assets and are creating jobs. It works.”