Reba Chemicals has forged a niche for itself in the competitive water treatment and underwater treatment chemicals market. Based on Chloorkop, east of Johannesburg, the company has managed to grow its product and client portfolios by investing in new capacity and equipment.
Company founder Freddy Motau says the company supplies the domestic market with products ranging from water treatment chemicals and inorganic metal salts to industrial acids. Reba Chemicals counts Rand Water as one of its customers, and also exports to Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Established in 1982, the business needed to expand its operations if it hoped to continue growing. So, in 2012 it applied for support from MCEP.
“We didn’t have money to complete our new premises so we had to look for funds,” Motau says. “I applied to the dti in July 2012 and the new building was finished in March 2013.”
The cash injection helped the company build larger premises, employ more people and install new chemical-mixing machinery. “Some of the funds were also used for finishings and touch-ups. We had to do other things too, for example, installing gates and security.”
The most critical use of the funding was for machinery to improve production capabilities. This helped to grow Reba’s client base, while also offering a local source for chemicals that had previously been imported.
Inorganic metal salts is an example of import replacements that were now locally available.
“We decided to manufacture these products locally to save on shipping costs. And that’s how the company expanded.,” Motau says.
As Reba grew, Motau added more chemicals to its product portfolio. Its water treatment chemicals and industrial acids found a ready market in mining companies, while export markets also started to open up.
The success of the business and the ability to tap more MCEP funding if needed means expansion is always on the cards. And with that expansion comes the opportunity to create more jobs.
Like all small companies with ambitions to grow, Reba Chemicals has its hurdles to overcome. More technologically advanced machinery and technical skills are always in demand.
“If we manage to get new chemical manufacturing technology, we will certainly have the competitive advantage,” Motau says.