Rubbery opportunity: Locals vie for slice of tyre giant's business

30 August 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201811376

Newcastle & Surrounds
Plastics & Rubber
SMME Development & Support

LOCAL companies are being given the opportunity to potentially do business with tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), which has been progressing with a multi-billion-rand investment into its Ladysmith manufacturing plant since 2014.

SRSA – manufacturer of the popular Dunlop, Sumitomo and Falken tyre brands - recently hosted the first of several planned Supplier Exhibition Days at its Ladysmith Training Academy, in a quest to identify potential vendors from the community in which it operates.

Nineteen suppliers were selected from 100 responses to adverts and notices and invited to showcase their products and services on the day. The activities included a factory tour to give the local suppliers insight into the needs of the business from a supplier perspective.

CEO of SRSA, Riaz Haffejee, said: “We were impressed with the high standard of the displays and the level of enthusiasm demonstrated by potential suppliers keen to do business with us. Due to space constraints we had to limit the number of exhibitors. However, we are planning further supplier exhibition days to extend the opportunity to more suppliers.”

SRSA advertised for suppliers in the categories of safety gear (PPE), lubricants, diesel, fabrication, stationery, electrical supplies (small equipment & components), consumables (cleaning materials, tea/coffee/milk/water), small hand tools, small civil/construction, transport, property rental (warehousing/residential), and labour (artisans/general).

Adverts were placed in local newspapers and communicated through the Alfred Duma Municipality, Ladysmith Business Chamber, as well as the Mnambithi Chamber, to ensure local communities were aware of the opportunity.

As a result of this initiative seven potential suppliers were identified and are being processed for inclusion on SRSA’s vendor data base.

Haffejee added: “In a small town like Ladysmith challenges can include cost competitiveness due to distance from main markets and the small size of the local market, reducing local suppliers’ potential to achieve economies of scale. There is also a limited supplier base in terms of products that can be used by SRSA. However, we are committed to localisation and want to support local industry wherever this is possible and cost effective.”

SRSA was due to host two more supplier exhibition days in August and September. Quarterly events could then be hosted thereafter. This will ensure that the company keeps abreast of local capability and that local suppliers are aware of the specific needs of SRSA’s business and are able to participate in potential opportunities to do business with the global company.

SRSA’s Tyre, Bus and Radial (TBR) factory in Ladysmith is a two-phase investment aimed at upgrading and modernising the plant’s capacity. It will see SRSA increasing the output of high-quality passenger and sport utility vehicle (SUV) tyres and introducing and manufacturing truck and bus tyres, which were previously predominantly imported.

Since 2014 the company’s total investment in employment, utilities and procurement has doubled, which has had a direct impact on the town and surrounding region.

SRSA is owned by Japanese listed company Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd (SRI), situated in Kobe, Japan, and is ranked the world’s sixth-largest producer of automotive tyres and industrial rubber products and has tyre manufacturing plants in Japan, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Turkey, USA and South Africa. The existing South African plant in Ladysmith (founded in 1973) currently produces passenger car, sport utility vehicle and light truck tyres only, which are sold in South Africa and exported across Africa and other countries.

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