PPC ZIMBABWE 00263 974 205 WWW.PPC.CO.ZA/ZIMBABWE
BUILDING THE FOUNDATION WRITTEN BY JACK SLATER
Last year, PPC Zimbabwe celebrated its centenary in 2013 and we spoke to director of business development and corporate strategy Gavin Stephens.
A Zimbabwean company, they have been around for over a century and few people know their market as well as them. They also boast the most modern production facilities in Africa which benefit from continued investment into them.
n a rapidly changing world that is constantly evolving the
As the years rolled by, so did sales figures, with capacity
question is how has PPC Zimbabwe managed to prolong and
increasing throughout decades of successful operation. Like any
maintain its success throughout the years?
other company, PPC Zimbabwe has experienced numerous triumphs
are a recognised brand, known for being the best in the country and
inception is testament to the organisation’s commitment to quality.
“I would say it is our consistency and quality,” says Gavin. “We
conforming to various international standards.”
and times of hardship, but its position in the market 100 years after “We have celebrated our centenary year with customers, service
However, there is no room for complacency at PPC Zimbabwe,
providers and staff at events in Bulawayo and Harare,” cites Gavin.
as evaluating processes and continuous improvement are of the
“Next month is the 50th anniversary of our brand name Unicem too,
so this celebration will reflect our confidence in Zimbabwe. Since
“We have a system which is aimed at involving employees at all levels of the company. This includes assessing their performance, learning from mistakes, how to move forward and suggesting ways to improve in the future,” he asserts.
1913, we have come through recessions as well as ups and downs, but we are still here.” At the end of last year, PPC Zimbabwe also received its indigenisation certificate, complying with government law that requires 51% of a company to be given to native shareholders. “We
History PPC Zimbabwe traces its roots back to a factory 15km east of Bulawayo that was established in 1913. Known as Premier Portland Cement, the company’s product went on sale a year later and before long it was exporting goods to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and the Belgian Congo.
are in the process of implementing this ahead of the competition. It will give the community and employees shares in the company,” says Gavin.
Employees Even though PPC Zimbabwe recognises the importance of
Sales figures of 3,000 tonnes a year early on began to increase
employee satisfaction, with remuneration above the national
thanks to a rise in the construction of dams and a demand for cement
average for the industry, the company’s workforce receives several
during the Second World War. Even though more facilities were
established to meet capacity requirements, a dip in sales during the
“Staff on-site are provided with housing, clinics and free
sixties forced PPC to become more efficient. A joint-holding company
medical schooling,” reveals Gavin. “We also offer a comprehensive
between Premier Portland and Rhocem rationalised production and
HIV program that guarantees access to antiretroviral drugs to any
United Portland Cement (Unichem) was born in 1965.
employee and his or her family.”
Although Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become big business for corporations around the world, Stephens says reaching out to the local people and wider community has always been of great significance to PPC Zimbabwe.
constraints.” he notes. “While we have enjoyed a growth in market share, we still have an extensive capacity.” The ability to maximise volume has been made possible by a recent investment at the company’s Bulawayo plant, with capacity
“We have quite a long history over the past 100 years of being
growing from 650,000 to 1.1 million tonnes. Loading and dispatch
involved in our community which has seen us take part in a number
operations have also been improved thanks to a $6 million injection
of activities,” he says. “We have various agricultural projects that
help enhance income and improve health as well as several sports activities. CSR is nothing new to us as a company.”
Developments for the industry and PPC Zimbabwe
Three years ago, PPC Zimabwe spent $20 million at its Colleen Bawn factory and is planning on increasing volume further still with a $3 million project in 2013. The possibilities for expansion do not stop there, as Stephens explains: “We are in the process of exploring the possibility of a new
Since Zimbabwe adopted the dollar, the cement industry has
plant and this is quite advanced. We would hope to see progress on
enjoyed a solid recovery and good growth. During the country’s
the ground by next year. Looking ahead, we see demand for cement
hyper inflation period, cement sales dropped to 400,000 tonnes a
growing and outstripping the installed capacity, hence the decision
year compared to an industry high of 1.1 million in 1999. But with
to look at a new facilities.
numbers now back on track, Stephens believes PPC Zimbabwe is well-positioned to take advantage of future expansion. “Looking at our competition, they are reaching their capacity
“We are also looking at North East Zimbabwe because we want to be closer to the Harare market and spreading our operations across the country more evenly.”
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The future During the cement industry’s difficult period when shortages were common, consumers were forced to buy whatever they could find. However, since its recovery, PPC Zimbabwe recognises the importance of customer service. “We need to change the previous mindset and become more customer focused,” notes Gavin. “We are engaged in extensive market surveys, we try to understand our clientele better and want to become more customer orientated. This project is well underway and is being conducted by our sales department.” Looking ahead, despite an uncertain political and economic outlook, PPC Zimbabwe is confident it can carry on its success in the future. “We see continued growth and demand for cement and are well positioned to take advantage of this ahead of the competition. We are bullish about the future, regardless of circumstances out of our control,” he signs off.
We have celebrated our centenary year with customers, service providers and staff at events in Bulawayo and Harare,. Next month is the 50th anniversary of our brand name Unicem too, so this celebration will reflect our confidence in Zimbabwe. Since 1913, we have come through recessions as well as ups and downs, but we are still here.”