Nelson Mandela Bay wood workers empowered through BEE
BEE deal gives employees greater job security and boosts morale
For the 31 employees of New Brighton-based company TC Woodworks, who were given 51% ownership of the business in 2018, job security has meant a huge improvement in staff morale.
But for the business itself, being elevated to B-BBEE level 2 status has done little to increase turnover.
According to co-owner Colin Salter, the company hopes the shared ownership will mean improved competitive advantage and profits in the long-term.
Salter and his partner, Andre van Heerden, said the decision to raise the company’s B-BBEE rating was taken to empower the employees.
TC Woodworks, which has been operating since 1997, is Shatterprufe’s biggest supplier of the crates used for exporting autoglass, and of pallets.
The company started with only three employees in a suburban garage but now has a factory in the Bay’s Struandale manufacturing hub.
Salter said the original plan had been to bring an outside black partner into the business.
“But we weren’t too keen on that option.
“It could have meant a quick change but it would also have meant an increase in overheads.
“Instead of handing over shares to someone who didn’t know the first thing about woodwork, we decided to give them to our workers.
“Staff morale is definitely up.
“But as yet our turnover has not increased by more than about 10%.
“I am not complaining because maybe in the long-term it will.
“We are possibly the first kids on the block in this vein of work to do this.”
TC Woodworks Workers Trust consists of its 31 employees, each of whom has a minimum of five years’ experience with the company.
TC Woodworks employee Jeremy Smith who has been with the company for 20 years, shared his thoughts on what the decision meant for him and his family.
He said being granted part ownership in the business had improved his living conditions and allowed him to send his children to university.
But he noted job security as the most valuable benefit.
Shatterprufe corporate logistics operations manager Wynand Smith commended TC Woodworks on its bold initiative.
“TC Woodworks is a valuable supplier to Shatterprufe and investing in its people, as well as promoting building back into the community, can definitely be seen as a feather in TC Woodworks’ cap, leading the way for change,” Smith said.
“A business cannot operate standing by itself, it is dependent on the people working for it.
“This initiative by TC Woodworks is what makes collaborative businesses, such as Shatterprufe and TC Woodworks, work so well together.”Another TC Woodworks customer, Colin Korkie, of Port Elizabeth alloy wheels manufacturer Borbet, said he was happy to continue his company’s eight-year relationship with TC Woodworks and applauded the company on the service it delivered.Korkie said the company continued to give good quality workmanship.