IN AN EXCITING moment in South African pre-cast concrete history, Salberg Concrete Products has merged with Ubuntu Pre-cast in what promises to be a shakeup of who’s who in the market.

“In an industry where the barriers to entry are vast, the merging of these two companies is seen as a clever marriage of two entrepreneurial organisations with proven track records of operational excellence, to produce one sleek, highly efficient competitor ready to stake its claim in the pre-cast concrete market,” states the new CEO of Salberg Concrete Products, Russel Samuels.

What has brought about the coming together of these two family businesses?
Family businesses have unique dynamics that the Salberg and Samuels companies share. This has contributed enormously to the compatibility of culture and values between the two organisations.

Both companies share a strong entrepreneurial and service-driven business ethos; they both share an understanding and excitement about the opportunities and growth prospects within the pre-cast concrete industry; and finally, they both share a profound recognition of the value of diversity. Both companies hold that great profitability is dependent on great performance and great performance is dependent on great people. At the heart of any entrepreneurial company is a simple business truth: through diversity of people comes diversity of talent. In the diversity of age, race, gender, class and religion emerges contributing factors for a great entrepreneurial organisation. It should be noted that Salberg is now the only BEE/EE-led company in the pre-cast concrete industry in South Africa, manifested in its CEO Russel Samuels and chairperson Barbara Parker, respectively.

What impact do you think the strength of both businesses acting as one will have on the market?
A more powerful, hungry competitor in the market driven by a clear business principle: to be the best in client ser vice deliver y. Salberg Concrete Products is one of the oldest pre-cast companies in the country, embedded with the creative and entrepreneurial energy of its founder Dave Salberg. Ubuntu Pre-cast is one of the youngest pre-cast companies in the industry, with an extremely successful entrepreneurial pedigree, spanning its five years of existence.

Together the organisations have complementary assets, which will create a single highperformance company in the pre-cast concrete space.

What innovations will the new organisation bring to the market?
Salberg is the winner of the 2012 CMA Award for Innovation and is one of the few organisations in Africa to design and manufacture bespoke pre-cast concrete solutions for its clients.

The innovation and bespoke market is a high growth node in the pre-cast industry and Salberg intends to continue being a key player in that growth space.

How has Salberg developed transport and logistical solutions to meet specialist requirements within ever increasing constraints?
Bringing a portion of the transport supply chain into the Salberg Group, coupled with well-managed value-based relationships with service providers.

The internal versus external service delivery balance is driven by the company’s strict ethos of service excellence.

Salberg’s products cross multiple sectors, including roads and stormwater, concrete pipes, sewer reticulation, electricity, water, mining, and communications (fibre optics): How do you keep abreast of multiple markets?
Playing in the product-diversity space with large competitors such as Infraset and Rocla, both listed companies, requires an efficient and well-run organisation. Understanding the business value of each product and excellent logistics are key to optimising the efficiency of client ser vice delivery for each product set.

How does this impact on research and development?
To stay ahead, one needs to keep abreast with the past, present and future of pre-cast concrete and its application in a super-evolving market. Salberg’s commitment to excellence and diversity of product lines dictate that it is a market leader in pre-cast concrete thinking.

It achieves this through a deep-rooted culture of R&D – every staff member understands this and is passionate about concrete. Thinking about concrete is a constant internal affair and a driver of strategic knowledge and research partnerships, in both our local and the international sphere.

What integrated solutions do you bring to each of these sectors?
Salberg has been unique in the industry in that it supplies the full stormwater and sewerage management system to its clients, from inlet to outlet. Salberg offers the full product mix of manholes, pipes and sundry vibrated products. With the merger, Ubuntu Precast brings culverts into the product basket.

Where have you seen the most growth over the year and how is Salberg/Ubuntu able to respond?
Salberg has been ideally positioned to take advantage of the unprecedented government investment in infrastructure over the past few years and the company is gearing itself to service the demands of the current budget for infrastructure investment projects – totalling some R785 billion over three years. South Africa’s economic growth, social wellbeing and place on the African continent are entirely dependent on the government’s capacity to delivery on the country’s infrastructure requirements over the next five years. Salberg is also positioning itself to meet the cross-border demands of Southern Africa’s infrastructure development with several strategic partnerships in the pipeline over the next two years.

Samuels & Samuels – trading as Ubuntu Precast – shares a legacy with Salberg that is clearly complementary. How are the two companies integrating?

As mentioned previously, family businesses have unique conditions that underpin the business.

They tend to be tighter knit as a group. They tend to be more entrepreneurial. They take commitment to excellence more personally. There tends to be greater individual accountability and empowerment. Recognition and reward is more personal. People tend to feel more valued and, as a result, commit themselves fully to the success of the company.

When the company wins it is celebrated as a shared success. When this is all overlaid with a dynamic business ethos of success, it’s a “honey pot” for industry talent.

What are the key elements of the merger and what impact will it have on the market?

For the Salberg/Samuel merger the sum of two has defiantly equalled three. Besides the obvious benefits discussed already, there is that magical, non-tangible value that has been added to the mix. The yeast of the merger is the psychological boost the jointed team gets when they recognise their combined strength in achieving service excellence. The impact of this positive energy is huge in the market place. Clients feel and respond to it.

What key messages would Salberg/Ubuntu like to give to the infrastructure market?
There is a better and stronger player on the market geared for service delivery excellence and hungry for market growth.