The Western Cape represents a rich tapestry of industrial activity in South Africa. It is home to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the car, truck and bus and agricultural equipment segments, while the food processing industry has a strong focus on fruit and wine production.
The region is known for its high-quality grapes used to produce popular wines that are also exported globally. In addition, the Western Cape is a major producer of fruits such as apples, pears and citrus. These are processed into products from juices to preserves and dried fruits. The thriving fishing industry produces a variety of fish, shellfish and crustacean products sold both domestically and internationally.
Playing a key role in all these diverse segments in the Western Cape is FUCHS Lubricants South Africa, which has a range of speciality, food grade and automotive lubricants at its disposal to service this plethora of industries. Branch Manager Bertie Brand started his career in the lubrication industry in 2007 in Paarl and joined FUCHS in 2014 when it acquired the company for which he was working.
“We started out as a small warehouse operation in Paarl,” notes Bertie. From its initial 225 m2 facility it moved to a much larger 600 m2 premises, to its current 1 000 m2 footprint in Stikland Industrial in Cape Town, of which over 700m2 is warehouse space alone. “As we started to make inroads into the automotive and food and beverage sectors, taking on more and more OEMs, in November 2022 we decided to relocate to be closer to our key focus areas,” explains Bertie. “Hopefully in a few years’ time we will double our current space.”
This exponential growth path carried FUCHS through the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown period when it was an essential services provider to the food and beverage industry. Although there was a dip in business at the time, the branch’s upward trajectory continued, and it even signed new agricultural clients during this difficult time.
Bertie highlights that, apart from automotive, the biggest sectors are food processing and canning. “There are a lot of opportunities for us here as the market sector remains largely untapped,” he notes. Smaller industrial segments are packaging and even a few pack houses. FUCHS is set to grow the retail side of its business, with a new sales representative appointed to oversee progress here in the automotive and on and off highway segments.
“There is a bit of everything in the Western Cape,” says Bertie. “The one industry that is not strong, only because of the location, is mining. We supply small mines, but it is not big. There are also a few cement plants we are targeting as well.” Looking to the future, there is a major uptick in demand for FUCHS’ specialist lubricants for wind turbines and even solar power projects as the demand for renewable energy increases throughout the region.
Highlighting the ongoing success of FUCHS in the Western Cape, Bertie pays tribute to his closely knit team, who have garnered extensive experience in a range of sectors. “Many customers have stood by us through thick and thin, and this is due to the effort we put into maintaining these relationships and nurturing them into long-term partnerships.”
Bertie concludes by saying that what keeps him passionate about the lubrication industry is that while it is fast moving, FUCHS’ product range is extensive enough to cater for all applications and sectors. “There is a constant drive to innovate and refine products to meet all the needs of our broad customer base. That is what makes it so interesting. You will never get bored with what you are doing.”