The name Nsimbi means steel in isiZulu and it’s a fitting name for a new equipment company that is showing resilience and using innovation to change the way business is done in the earthmoving industry.
GERARD PETER spoke to Nsimibi Equipment founder CRAIG DUBE to find out more.
Founded only three years ago, Nsimbi is the brainchild of Dube and his former sales manager Bruce Rogers. At the time, both worked for a company that supplies heavy equipment to mines.
It was on a trip to Lesotho that they decided to start their own business. “We took our savings and bought two used excavators that we rebuilt and sold at a good profit and the rest is history,” explains Dube.
It was while the company was buying used equipment from mines that Nsimbi started to attract interest from Australian original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Soon it received an offer to sell OEM equipment to the mines. It started by supplying small belly plate jacks, a machine that used to remove the belly pan from dozers and it was a success. Soon, Nsimbi was supplying the jacks to Anglo American and Glencore.
Today, the company is the local supplier of three well-known earthmoving brands, namely Duratray , a manufacturer of all-steel trays; Jacon, a manufacturer of purpose built equipment; and Nivek that manufactures a track driven all-terrain, battery operated, remote controlled belly plate jack.
Challenging sacred cows
Dube explains that Nsimbi is now focused on supplying equipment to the mining industry but with a different approach to the traditional ways of doing business.
“We want to show mining companies the benefits of choosing our equipment before they commit to buying our products,” he says. “As such, we engage the services of an industry expert to determine what a mines’ needs are.
"We look at a project’s requirements, the challenges and how our innovative products can improve cost-savings, enhance safety and increase productivity. Also, we send demos to the mines so companies can see the benefits first-hand.”
Dube admits that it is oftentimes a challenge to get an audience with mining companies to discuss its innovative product solutions because many companies have a policy that if it is not broken, then why should they fix it.
That said, Nsimbi has already seen positive results and is getting a lot of repeat business and is regarded as stiff competition for more established industry players.
“We are business disruptors. For example, we tell companies that you don’t have to buy a truck with a tray on it – we can supply a tray. This also means we are stirring the pot with OEM truck manufacturers who want to supply a truck with a tray,” Dube states.
Nsimbi’s innovative products are also key to ensuring worker safety on mines. A case in point: the company can supply double-cab trucks, meaning there is no need to turn a truck underground, thereby improving driver safety.
Dube further states that on-site support is an integral part of the company’s offering.
“We train the operators and technical staff and also have service contracts with our clients. We also do consignment stock on parts; our machines are smart and report any fault back to the end user.
“When you choose our Jacon and Duratray products, for example, we can supply a container with barcoded parts that form part of an intelligent reporting system.
"So, when a part is replaced, the system sends a message to us stating that the stock needs to be replenished. Also, having replacement parts on hand is particularly useful for operations located in remote areas.”
In addition, the company also outsources some of its technical support. For example, it works with Trysome for all electrical work as well as DCL Mechanics for repairs and servicing of equipment.
Dube adds that Nsimbi also offers a leasing option to its clients. “Leasing is especially useful if a company has no capex available to buy new equipment. Also, when you lease our equipment, we provide 24-hour support to our clients,” he explains.
Dreaming big but being realistic
Dube states that plans are afoot to increase the company’s product offering and expand its operations in Africa, particularly West Africa.
The company has already approached other OEMs not represented the continent. Currently, Nsimbi is busy negotiating with a Russian company to be the African supplier of its drill bits.
Dube points out that it chooses its OEM partners very carefully andconductsdue diligence onall of them to ensure that a product does indeed deliver on what it says it can.
While there are aspirations to grow the business, he states that the company does not want to fill its basket too much. As such, it will probably stick to being an OEM supplier of a maximum of five products, each with a product manager to look after that brand.
Looking across the border, Nsimbi’s key focus for 2019 is to increase its footprint in West Africa. Currently, the company supplies equipment to Endeavour Mining’s Ity gold project in Côte d'Ivoire.
“We want to do more in the regions and are in discussion with different contractors in the region,” Dube adds.
“We are also planning to open a branch in Ghana and also exploring the option of a joint venture with a local company in West Africa to grow our operations there.
"In addition, we are also looking to get our own technical team so that we can offer a more comprehensive service and product offering to our clients,” he concludes.