Playing A Long Term Game

A designer and manufacturer of conveyor-belt cleaning equipment for a trouble-free flow of materials at transfer and load points, Brelko has a long history in the industry, with the company celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017. Brelko’s MD, Kenny Padayachee, says it is testimony to the hard work of both management and employees that the business has lasted so long in such a volatile market.

“In this three-decade period, Brelko has evolved from a business that produced a comprehensive list of belt-cleaning solutions to one that now offers total spillage control. Today, Brelko is both a supplier and advisor on spillage control to the bulk materials handling industry. Furthermore, we back up everything we do with an installation and maintenance package,” he says.

Padayachee explains that, while there are a number of competitors in this space, his company is actually targeting only a small segment of the market. His aim, he says, is to be like Porsche, which is a company that has built its business not on selling vast quantities of product, but on crafting a reputation for selling only product that is of the highest quality. In the same vein, Brelko produces polyurethane rollers that last around five times as long as the standard rubber rollers that are generally used on conveyors in the mining industry.

“Naturally, producing these is a more complex and involved task, but Brelko is more than equal to this. The company’s experienced engineers have designed and built its own in-house tools and equipment to meet the unique requirements of building these products.”

The organisation’s current premises have been under development for the past seven years. Padayachee explains that, although it has taken several years and a lot of effort, Brelko now has a facility that perfectly meets its needs, produces top-quality product and has the highest safety capabilities. “I firmly believe that what you put in is what you get out, which is why I have – and continue to – put so much time and effort into continually improving this facility.”

Brelko is a 100% South African-owned company, and Padayachee points out that, despite some people having the impression that foreign-made is better, local products are definitely not lower-class.

“This is particularly true in the mining industry, which has had to become very self-sufficient. Thus, it should surprise no one to hear that our locally manufactured equipment is not only world-class, but, more often than not, is actually better than anything you could get from overseas.”

The key to successfully manufacturing high-quality local solutions, believes Padayachee, lies in investing in the right things, and nothing is more important than people.

“At Brelko, we are only as good as our people, which is why I believe in ensuring that everyone here is trained, skilled and accountable. Furthermore, we follow the ‘triple S’ principle of working safe, smart and simple.”

At the same time, he says it is obvious that for employees to work effectively, they need to be comfortable and happy, which is why so much effort has been put into creating not just a pleasant environment in which to work, but also one that is beautiful and environmentally friendly.

“When we moved into the property – which required extensive renovations – we saved as many of the trees as possible, to provide grass and gardens for our people to relax in. Our centrepiece is a 65-year-old peppercorn tree that is just magnificent. We also practise sustainability, harvesting rainwater for the gardens and using solar geysers for the bathrooms.”

But, a wonderful workplace still contributes only so much, continues Padayachee. Brelko has also felt obligated to provide for the community that lives around it. To this end, the company obtained a parcel of barren land next to its offices from the council. Today, thanks to Brelko’s efforts, residents have access to a small soccer field, a basketball/netball court, a cycle track and a picnic area. He adds that the company also saved the trees in this area, which are over 100 years old, and has ensured that the park is secured, in order to keep its users safe.

“Ultimately, our philosophy has always been that, if you are going to do something, you must do it right. We are a company that understands long-term rewards, so we are prepared to make the effort up front that will allow us to reap the rewards further down the line. “Among our investments are those in our people, our property and the community around us. You only have to look at our premises, the park next door and the general wellbeing of our employees to see immediately that these investments we have made are truly paying off,” he concludes.

Brelko Conveyor Products invests in people, products and premises.
By Rodney Weidemann – SA Mining – MARCH / APRIL 2017

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