AN AMAZING TURN AROUND – APPROXIMATELY 20 JOBS SAVED. UNIDRIVE ELECTRIC MOTORS RECLAIMS ITS POSITION AMONG THE LEADING REPAIRER OF ELECTRIC MOTORS.

AN AMAZING TURN AROUND – APPROXIMATELY 20 JOBS SAVED. UNIDRIVE ELECTRIC MOTORS RECLAIMS ITS POSITION AMONG THE LEADING REPAIRER OF ELECTRIC MOTORS.

It is not every day that a company stares at liquidation, and prospects of devastating job losses, but survives to tell the tale. Unidrive Electric Motors Company is receiving a second lease on life, under a new majority black women ownership and youth management, following the acquisition of the majority stake in the business by Ayanda at Work Pty LTD.

Between 2012 and 2013, Unidrive went through a struggle as a result of cash flow challenges which pushed the business into a precarious financial position with the possibility of closure. This also led the company to cede its market position in the local armature winding space and gave up business opportunities as clients lost confidence.

Unidrive Managing Director, Theo Mashego, says “Unidrive is one of the most recognised players in the refurbishment and supply of electric motors and its demise would have been very sad. Also, the jobs that were at stake with its possible closure, and the experience lost, it would have been unimaginable”.

“We entered into discussion to acquire the majority stake in this business just at the right time, before a decision was taken to pull the plug. Starting a business such as Unidrive afresh – off the ground – can take you between 5 and 10 years. The experience of the workforce will take you forever to build again,” he says.

Unidrive was established in 1984 by the Bibbey Family as a company that would specialise in the repair of electric motors, steel frame special motors, drives, gearboxes and submersible pumps. In 2013, the family sold 90% of the business to Ayanda at Work lead by Mashego and with the majority of funding coming from a consortium of black women. The two companies merged and continue to trade under the banner of Unidrive Electric Motors. The structure means the business is now 70% black women owned, 20% black youth owned whilst 10% still remains with the old shareholders. The business prides itself in being a truly black women and black youth owned and controlled business that delivers quality work in a very competitive industry.

Mashego has spent the last two years refocusing the Unidrive’s business model and rebuilding business confidence. The company also had to relook at its product and service offering to aligned them with the markets being serviced.

Key among the initial steps to rebuilding the business, the company focused on improving quality of workmanship and securing all necessary standards required to be competitive in the industry. Unidrive is SANS 1561-1:2006 listed and also complies with SABS 0242. The company is also ISO 9001 Certified by SABS.

“We are very competitive in the market for the repair of up to 450kw, up to 1000v motors, and we also comply with SANS 60079-0 and 60079-1 for repairs of Flameproof motors. We also comply with SANS 60079-0/15/19 for Spark proof motors. It is very important that we achieve these standards as they give confidence to our clients that their products are in good hands,” he says.

The company is slowly regaining its glory days with a number of key clients starting to send new orders following the installation of the new management and workmanship. The company has also seen its turnover growing in double digits between 2015 and 2016, with more upside expected in 2017 with the recovering economy. “There are lots of positives in this rejuvenated business to give us indications of a positive future”, says Mashego.

Unidrive’s key markets are the broad manufacturing, mining, agriculture and general industrial. Unidrive repairs and supply AC & DC motors, submersible pumps, industrial gear boxes and vibrator motors.

“We have repositioned ourselves very well with some of key South African brands in major manufacturing sectors. I think word of mouth is fast spreading about our efficiency and quality workmanship as we are receiving more enquiries from some of our current client’s peers. That can only mean that we are delivering on our brand promise of quality deliveries on time, all the time”, quips Mashego.

Safety is also a priority for the company. “We pride ourselves on our impeccable safety record over the past two years and this area of the business is under continuous improvement,” adds Mashego.

The company currently employs about 20 staff member, majority of whom are skilled in the trade. In the last two years, 3 young black women were taken on a technical internship programme. Unidrive has also been verified as level 2 broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) company under the South African government’s new codes. Even though Mashego is satisfied with this BBBEE level, he says Unidrive will continue to focus on young black women training, development and employment as part of its socio-economic contribution.