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Maxe Stainless Steel

Tried, tested, trusted and tough


Tried, tested, trusted and tough Editorial: Roland Douglas Production: Chris Bolderstone

Maxe Stainless Steel produces steel components and accessories for the automotive industry in South Africa. The company is a leader in its industry and has grown tremendously over the years since its formation in 1997. IndustrySA looks at what makes Maxe such a success…

Operating in the steel industry can often be challenging for any company, with price fluctuations and supply issues to consider. The automotive industry is not much different; there are rising export costs and labour issues to navigate. Then there is the manufacturing industry more widely - again an industry which is not short of challenges; cheap foreign imports, the rise of advanced technology and, of course, the proverbial skills shortage. So, you would think that running a business that spans all three of these complex industries would be like running through a minefield but one of South Africa’s leading autocomponent manufacturers, Maxe Stainless Steel, has proven over the years that with effective management and a strong workforce, you can not only be successful in these industries but you can become recognised as an industry leader in both local and international markets.


Maxe was established in 1997 and bought the use of stainless steel for vehicle accessories to the fore. The driver behind this was the steel nudge bar produced for the ‘97 Mitsubishi Pajero. After this accessory proved extremely popular, many other manufacturers of painted mild steel products had to rethink their strategies and product offerings to serve a newly formed appetite from buyers for stainless steel accessories. In 2004, seven years after its inception, Maxe produced a full accessory kit for the Toyota Hilux Legend 35 and this represented a milestone in the company’s history as originally only 600 kits were ordered but in the end over 6000 were produced. The kits included nudge bar with sump guard, roll bar, side steps, rear step and a tow bar. Today, Maxe calls a number of the world’s biggest motor brands its clients. Toyota, Nissan, General

Maxe Stainless Steel

© VW 2013 Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Daihatsu, Great Wall Motors and others all benefit from Maxe’s OEM approved range of locally manufactured stainless and mild steel accessories. Only the finest quality marine grade 304 steel tube and plate is used for the manufacture of Maxe products and a unique Durabar coating helps to set them apart from the rest. The products are widely produced for SUV’s or LDV’s and everything comes from the company’s factory in New Germany, Pinetown near Durban. The factory is a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with the very latest in tube manufacturing, pipe manipulation, and laser cutting machine technology. The company moved into the factory in 2007 following a period of unprecedented growth. At the time the company was struggling to keep up with local demand and big name clients - who were building their vehicles without any bumpers, running boards or roll-

over protectors – were looking to take a slice of the autoaccessory market which was valued at R2billion in 2007. Maxe’s factory and processes are backed up by ISO9001 certification, achieved in 2006 and still held to this day and because of this, and the company’s vast experience, customers can rest assured there are receiving the very best from one of the industry’s leaders. The 8500m² facility was opened partly to help cope with local demand as back then the company was not exporting but previously it had dealt in various international markets. Today, with the backing of the Autovest group, Maxe is on a growth drive and may look at expansion opportunities in international markets, especially those on the African continent. Of course, business will be boosted by the fact that sales of SUV’s are again on the rise in Africa with sharp increases reported in the sale of luxury SUV’s since 2009.


Time FreightREPORT and Maxe – A Partnership Forged In Steel COMPANY What began as a small, daily delivery for a company looking to break into the automotive industry is now, 14 years on, a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between two of KwaZulu-Natal’s most respected companies - Time Freight and Maxe Stainless Steel. When Time Freight began moving consignments for Maxe - who were founded in 1997 and specialise in the production of stainless steel bull bars, nudge bars, bumper protectors, side steps, side bars, roll bars, and rear styling bars and steps for a range of light delivery vehicles and sports utility vehicles – their daily load consisted of 10 to 20 items. Today, Time Freight transports an average of 4750 items per month for Maxe around South Africa. The weight of all that steel, a formidable 79 tons every 30 days. “We were moving their products back then from their tiny premises off Circuit Drive in Westmead,” recalls Time Freight Divisional Executive Mike Burton when their partnership with Maxe began. The company was in its infancy, but making quick inroads into the vehicle accessory sector. With Maxe soon going into business with vehicle manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Great Wall Motors, and General Motors, their need for timely and safe deliveries became vital as their order book grew. Time Freight was an obvious choice for the vehicle accessory manufacturer. “Maxe is a supplier to major and smaller vehicle manufacturers across South Africa and as one of their preferred carriers we value this partnership a great deal, not only as a carrier but also being involved with a company such as Maxe whose product quality and research and development is of the highest order,” said Burton. With hundreds of thousands of parts successfully delivered during the 14-year partnership, Burton states that one of the most important aspects of maintaining their successful track record is ensuring all deliveries are carried out with “an equal amount of swiftness and enthusiasm”. “Time Freight has always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with Maxe. Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we have both learnt from these experiences to the benefit of all,” Burton adds. As both Maxe and Time Freight go from strength to strength, two constants sure to remain are their strong ties and desire to see all deliveries continuing to arrive on time.

AUTOVEST In 2007, Maxe became part of the Autovest group of companies, a specialised collection of businesses that lead the way in different areas of the automotive industry. Autovest says it “endeavours to meet customer’s requirements by providing a unique ‘one stop’ accessories shop offering a range of quality products,” and to do this they are consistently investing in, and growing, established and profitable businesses within the automotive industry. Autovest’s company portfolio currently contains eight automotive accessory brands - Bucco Canopies, SA Canopy Centre, Rhino Linings, Kilber Products, StarTrek, Auto Armor, Auto Enhance and Maxe Stainless Steel – and through these brands Autovest positions itself as South Africa’s largest single supplier of automotive accessories sold through the OEM dealerships, with national distribution through more than 130 franchised fitment centres and the only supplier that can provide a broad range of accessories. Autovest is a South African company and focusses on building on its strengths through the development and use of local talent. All of its subsidiaries are proudly South African and the supply chains of each subsidiary are local in every sense. In the case of Maxe, who


are involved in everything from design through to manufacture and after sales support, all is done with local products, local people and local expertise. Maxe was the first company that Autovest acquired after its establishment by Nedbank in 2007 but in 2011, RMB Corvest, a private equity firm and division of FirstRand Group, purchased a 28% stake in Autovest with the view of expanding the company. Autovest’s CEO, Ted Waldbuger, said in 2011: “Although we enjoyed a successful partnership with Nedbank, they were approaching the end of their investment horizon, having been invested in Maxe prior to the inception of Autovest.” He continued to say that the deal would help Autovest on its acquisition trail. “We are extremely excited about our relationship with RMB Corvest, which will ultimately enable Autovest to accelerate its acquisition strategy.” After the deal, Autovest acquired Auto Armor and launched the Auto Enhance brand, proving that the RMB Corvest investment had been of great benefit.

LOCAL BUSINESS As mentioned above, Maxe is a big player in the local market, creating numerous jobs both directly and

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COMPANY REPORT indirectly and stimulating growth in its supply chain. Take Time Freight for example, a logistics partner of Maxe’s for 14 years. They move nearly 5000 items for Maxe every month and that translates to nearly 80,000kgs of material each month. Time Freight is a South African company with roots in KZN. Then there is the Maxe business itself; it employs over 300 people (up from 180 in 2007) and in KZN, where unemployment levels sit at just under 20% (Dec 2012), this type of job creation is extremely beneficial. The company’s employees are highly skilled and help to build long-lasting relationships with OEMs. Maxe says that it gives customers a specific product because it is involved in all processes from initial idea through to production and installation. “Maxe prides its self on being involved in every stage of the product development, from customer request for a specific design to implementation, manufacturing,

distribution and technical field support. “Our Development Department has the latest Engineering CATIA Software and technical skills to design and develop a product that are to exact customer specifications,” the company’s website states. Design is a key element of Maxe’s success and the fact that designs are tailored to the South African market with African conditions in mind helps to keep Maxe at the forefront of the local market. Of the big name players that Maxe supplies, the focus is often on the regional division and the products supplied add value to the final product creating a mutually beneficial relationship. The future is bright for Maxe and as we move into 2014, there are plenty of opportunities on the horizon for the company who is actively seeking expansion. In July 2013, sales of the top ten LCV’s were up by 9.2% on the same period in 2012. The top ten is made up

© Ford 2013 PAGE 6 DEC 13


Maxe Stainless Steel

Entek Industrial Chemicals offer product development to all industrial products with laboratory back up. Products and analytical services to the Metal Finishing Industrial Welding consumables, Electro polishing, Buffing products to the Stainless Steel manufacturing Industries. Chemical treatment plants and products for powder coating industry with laboratory back up.

Powder Coating Products A leading supplier of manual, automatic powder coating equipment, automatic electrostatic powder coating gun, powder optimization equipment and powder recovery system. Chemical treatment plants and products for powder coating industry with laboratory back up.

of numerous Maxe customers and as long as growth like this continues for the sector, there is no reason why the company can’t go on to grow even further, creating more jobs and developing the already sterling reputation of South Africa’s auto-accessory industry.


“Maxe prides its self on being involved in every stage of the product development, from customer request for a specific design to implementation, manufacturing, distribution and technical field support”

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Postal Address:

P O Box 19 Kloof 3640

Autovest companies and Maxe Stainless Steel sister companies: • SA Canopy • Auto Armor • Rhino Linings • Kilber Products • StarTrek • Auto Enhance • Bucco Canopies DEC 13 PAGE 7

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