The ‘pro’ in professional
An established leader in the provision of products and services in the hot dip galvanising, anti-corrosion and duplex coatings markets, Pro-Galv is one man’s vision of establishing a facility with emphasis on the highest level of quality and service. Founder and sole member, Gradus Wendt, tells his story.
With the help of Business Partners and FNB, Gradus Wendt became the sole owner of Pro-Galv CC in 2009. The company originated from Rhowen Trading Enterprises CC, which was established in 2005 by Wendt and Vanessa Rhoda. Both parties had a 50/50 shareholding, which changed to 74/26 by the year 2007. Prior to this, but not after thorough market research, Wendt – who holds a National Higher Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and is a qualified aircraft technician (SAAF) – started a new galvanising venture in the Western Cape and was appointed managing director at Advanced Galvanising until 1995. At this time he became managing director and 1/3 shareholder of ZN Recoveries (Pty) Ltd, during which time Dip ‘n Spin Galvanising (Pty) Ltd was also opened. In 1998, Wendt was appointed managing member of Zincgrip Coatings and owned 90% membership in this corporation, and he was also a director and shareholder of Bold ‘n New Investments 6 (Pty) Ltd. Then in 2006, Wendt established Pro-Galv, and in 2009 he bought out his partner, Rhoda, and is now the sole member of the company.
“Never lose sight of your dream – it’s taken me almost 15 years,” says a passionate Wendt. “Be realistic and do honest business. Have perseverance and never give up but at the same time, don’t be over excited. Take one step at a time!”
The business is situated in Sunnyside Stikland, Bellville (WC), close to the R300 and N1 as Wendt believes that a prime location is important. According to Wendt, the company offers the highest quality of hot dip galvanising, zincspray, shotblasting, and duplex coating systems, with quick turnaround times – all competitively priced. “My vision was to establish a hot dip galvanising facility that could accommodate the needs of clients who were looking for a bigger product and service offering from 4.5mx1mx2.4m kettle to 7.2mx1.3mx2.6m kettle. Of course, emphasis had to be placed on exceptional quality and service,” Wendt explains. He says that Pro-Galv maintains an excellent business relationship with its clients, keeping them informed at all times, meeting their deadlines, and never compromising on quality. The company prides itself on a job turnaround time of one to two days, and is currently striving towards becoming the number one stop for all anti-corrosive treatments, with an Epoxy-Coating Plant also in the pipeline.
Apart from his savvy entrepreneurial skills, Wendt also has the amazing ability to see potential where others can’t. The Zincgrip plant was in urgent need of refurbishment and upgrade, quoted in excess of R2.2 million. Wendt, who already predicted the status of the plant in 2002, acquired a vacant industrial property that was suitable for the development of a state-of-the-art hot dip galvanising plant that would not only meet his expectations, but also benefit the company’s vision over the next 15 to 20 years. In 2004, he started rebuilding the factory and housed the entire operation. After much perseverance, the factory was ready for production by 1 November 2006. “It’s important to understand that this is not entirely a new business enterprise. The knowledge, experience, staff and customers of Zincgrip Coatings have been directly incorporated into the business. Each one of them provides immense benefits in terms of sustainability,” he continues. “Pro-Galv is managed in a cost-effective and efficient manner, using the latest technology in accordance with contractual and regulatory requirements – setting us apart from our competitors.”
Pro-Galv is a member of the prestigious Hot Dip Galvanising Association of South Africa and is also accredited with the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council, the National Employers’ Association of South Africa, and the South African Metal Finishing Association of the Western Cape Region. But of course, despite its success, Pro-Galv is not open seven days a week. “We’re closed on Sundays, except in the case of an emergency,” says Wendt. “After church, Sundays are family time.” Wendt describes his wife, their four children and two grandchildren as a “close-knit family”. “We make the best of every long weekend, and use these to go away on hunting trips, seaside holidays, and even fishing expeditions.” Wendt’s family is also involved in the business: his eldest daughter is the financial manager, his eldest son is the production manager, his wife is the secretary and office administration, and his brother is the operational manager. “I have reliable people in responsible positions. The majority of my staff has worked with me for the last 15 years,” he concludes.