By Lynne Gadd– Claxton
AT the glamorous Exporters Club gala awards event on Friday August 24, 2012 manufacturing firm Eberspacher was awarded the accolade of Exporter of the Year.
The Eastern Cape branch of the Exporters Club of South Africa acknowledged top performing members in the province at its prestigious annual awards event held at Running Waters in Kragga Kamma in Port Elizabeth.
Eberspacher, manufacturers of catalytic converters and exhaust mufflers, more than doubled their export turnover in the last two years. Over the years the company was awarded the Exporter of the Year and in 2010 the VWSA BBBEE supplier of the year.
Despite the difficult export environment and the challenging market crisis there has been significant growth in the Eastern Cape’s export market.
Elated Eberspacher managing director Nic Zerbst said the award was unexpected but showed that the hard work of his team was paying off.
“For us this is a great achievement,” he said.
Exporters Club chairman Quintin Levey said: “The standard of participants was good with a similar number of entrants as last year. Some entrants achieved significant growth, through diversification and exploring new markets.
“The success of the exporters is largely dependent on the export destination. Sub-Sahara Africa is a potential growth area for exporters, and many exporters are investigating opportunities in Africa.”
Levey said challenges facing exporters included “the distance to the global market, fluctuating exchange rates, and ever increasing input costs like fuel, electricity and salaries, which exporters can not pass onto customers”.
This year’s awards boasted two new categories, namely the Best OEM Exporter (manufacturers of original equipment for the automotive industry) and the SJM Environmental award, destined for an ISO 14001 accredited company that pursues excellence in environmental management.
“Entrants for the environmental award have shown great innovation in reducing electricity and water usage, as well as minimizing their contribution to landfull,” Levey said.
The SJM Environmental award went to Volkswagen Group South Africa for reducing their carbon footprint of the factory, but also of the products they produced. VWSA was also awarded the OEM award.
While many exporters are from the automotive industry, Levey said the region showed great promise all round.
The Best Exporter is awarded in three categories:
Eveready Diversified Products, trading as Kestrel Wind Turbines, received best exporter for a small business with an export turnover of up to R25-million.
Eberspacher walked away with the top exporter with a turnover greater than R100-million.
For being the best service provider of the export industry, Bidvest Panalpina Logistics received this prestigious award.
The judges did not award a medium enterprise award (between R25-million and R100-million) as entries for the desired standard was not received.
From these three categories an overall winner was chosen as the Exporter of the Year, which went to Eberspacher.
This is a shortened version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, August 25, 2012.