Family fine tunes cutting in southern Africa and internationallyPublished 29/12, 2016 at 15:37
Concrete core drilling and sawing and guitar playing do not automatically jive, but in the case of South Africa’s Borecut Concrete Core Drilling & Sawing the two are right on song. PDi’s Africa editor Kevin Mayhew reports.
A visit to Borecut’s operations centre in the industrial area of Alrode South in the Ekhurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng, South Africa’s and Africa’s richest geographical area, is deceptive. Its compactness and seeming inactivity belie a history of growth that spans over three decades.
Rock’n roll and concrete cutting
From a single cutting machine operation in 1984 it is today a multimillion-rand business operating in southern Africa and beyond the African continent. It is one of only a handful of South African companies that offer the four prime disciplines under one roof of wire sawing, floor sawing, wall sawing and core drilling.
For founder Jim Di Mambro, originally from Scotland, the path to the industry began with him playing live music in the early 1960s, as the guitarist in a rock band touring Europe at the same time the Beatles were doing the same in then West Germany.
The music never really died for him as he landed in South Africa and became part of a local 1960s and 1970s band called the Staccatos. Simultaneously, he entered the world of cutting with an established company that was operating in the booming South African economy.
“After gaining experience and a good reputation I saw a gap to go on my own and made the move in 1984 with one major construction company backing my operation,” said Di Mambro. “Given the standard of our work and reputation for delivery on time with minimal fuss to the contractor, we grew in the civils sector initially. We understood clearly that on-time completion of cutting activity was vital for the next stage of construction. This gave us the edge that was recognised by two major construction companies and they rewarded us with ongoing work that helped us to properly establish ourselves.”
This growth presented its own challenges to access correct equipment and qualified personnel to operate it. Within South Africa there were also changing safety regulations, which had to be adhered too.
Always quality before pricing
Its operations were also being demanded at sites in neighbouring countries, as the southern African region introduced a number of large capital projects. It had to meet these challenges for delivery in Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland among others. “We have never based our operations on pricing that cuts corners to get any work. We know what is required and the cost of its delivery as the price of a miscalculation is too great,” said Di Mambro.
To help meet expanding commitments, which now extends to Indonesia and the Philippines and placed them on a competitive platform with companies worldwide, his son Frank Di Mambro learnt the business and joined his father. What he also brought was a younger outlook regarding spreading the word about Borecut’s activities using technology, such as the Internet.
Frank Di Mambro and trade enthusiasts Mark Krchmar and William Greenwood from the US began what was believed to be the first Facebook chat room for like-minded companies. It has spawned a number of similar sites and Borecut has developed this further into what is today the Global Concrete Cutting Group with about 1400 members across the world.
“We talk amongst each other regarding general business news and developments and help each other to problem solve at times. Obviously we are still competitive at a local, southern African or international level, but we are a giant family in an environment always presenting it with new challenges so we help each other,” said Frank Di Mambro.