For Etvaal Furniture, an MCEP grant proved to be the boost this old-school manufacturing company needed to make a play in the furnishings market.
Located in Bronkhorstpruit, Mpumalanga, this is a family business that’s been doing business for more than 50 years. They’ve always had an excellent reputation for service and delivery, but owner Thys Louwrens admits that keeping up with market changes has been a real challenge for them.
Whereas the business had been built on pine furniture, market demand meant they had to branch out into medium-density fibreboard (MDF) furniture products to stay relevant. And ahead of competition from cheap imports.
Doing so would require them to modernise the business by upgrading their manufacturing capabilities and facilities. Which would be capital intensive, hence the application to MCEP for assistance.
Entering new furnishings markets
“Through the MCEP programme, the IDC and the dti gave us the ability to extend our existing facilities by buying new machines and employing new staff, and that gave us the chance to extend it to the point where we could now be competitive in the market,” says Louwrens.
He says that the MCEP incentives were a godsend for his expansion plans.
“The extension for the new factory was about R6 million,” he says. “The MCEP grant assisted us with approximately R1.8 million, which was about 30% of the overall cost and really gave us the advantage and the possibility to really buy good machines and a good facility.
“It’s a big new market that we’ve entered into,” says Louwrens; “MDF is different from pine; it’s a pressed timber, not the solid timber we’re used to working with. The MDF market is a large market and to get into that market you need a lot of assistance and capital.”
Louwrens compliments the customer-friendly nature of MCEP, with the paperwork not being too daunting. Etvaal used an agent for the application, which helped to get all the relevant documentation together. “It really is a programme which I can recommend to other manufacturers, especially through an agent,” he says.
Growth and development
As a result of the expansion, Etvaal has been able to employ 40 additional workers.
Louwrens added that working with the MCEP has revolutionised their business model, giving him high hopes for the future. “The IDC and the dti really make a difference in the financing of large projects like ours; they have really been very helpful. You can see that they really want to help the manufacturer and they really helped us with knowledge and assistance and with people who could help us with extending our manufacturing process,” he says.
Louwrens is proud of the business and sees a bright future ahead.
“With the dti, we can now really go forward and grow, as with the existing pine manufacturing side, there were limitations on that. In the new market we have entered, we can now increase our turnover 30% to 40% and even double it in the next five years.”