Making a global business of cleaning up the environment

Cindy Preller

AN environmental specialist in Nelson Mandela Bay is expanding his business globally.

After opening a company two weeks ago in Namibia, Kevin Kelly of the Xtreme Projects group, and his two business partners in Namibia have been inundated with queries and other business opportunities in the neighbouring country.

“We are busy with a $500000 (R5-million) contract removing oil from a stranded vessel which is 16 nautical miles off the coast of Luderitz.

“We are working with the Namibian government in removing the oil from the vessel,” Kelly said.

Other branches of Xtreme Projects, which has opened up globally, include a firm in Italy (doing salvage work for the Costa Concordia) and three more are in the pipeline for Mauritius, Ghana and Nigeria.

“We are also doing testing in the North Sea, Singapore and the Falklands. It is great to be able to offer business opportunities in environmental protection to foreign partners,” Kelly said.

There was a lot of red tape involved with operating such a global business but the rewards of working in pollution control made up for this, he said.

“I have not worked a day in my life since starting this business – this is a hobby to me,” Kelly, who also won an award this year from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) in the category for maritime environmental projects, said.

Xtreme Projects has only been in business for nine years and started off in 2004 with a “two-man-and-a- bakkie” operation.

In 2006 the firm expanded into the maritime industry, offering multi- skilled environmental cleanups.

“I picked up one of my employees, Lennon Sonjica, in Burt Drive and he has worked for me since. He is one of my best employees and I employ 26 people locally. I believe it is one of the most important things in business to look after your staff, who will in turn offer high quality services to your customers,” Kelly said.

With a background in the motoring industry, Kelly started the firm in 2004 after resigning from his previous job.

Other than existing long-term contracts offering general and hazardous cleaning services to companies across the country, he has also redesigned oil booms involved with containing maritime spills, which are manufactured by a local company, Alpha Tarps.

Since manufacturing the oil booms for Xtreme Projects, Alpha Tarps has employed an additional 18 people.

Constantly innovating and ploughing time and money back into his business had been his recipe for success, Kelly said.

Xtreme Projects was also involved in a clean-up when a recent fire broke out at Greenacres shopping centre.

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