NPC flies Namibia’s flag high
Leading pipe manufacturer, Namibia Plastic Converters (NPC), is optimistic of doubling its production capacity by 2018, after the company recently penetrated the export market.
Part and parcel of the Okahandja community for the past 48 years, the company recently started exporting its high quality products to Botswana, Angola and Zambia.
The company was registered in 1968 as Okahandja Plastics, to manufacture non-standard polyethylene pipe.
In the mid-1970s, it changed ownership and became part of the Duropenta Group, and in 1988, it became part of the DPI Holdings Group, emerging as Namibia Plastic Converters (NPC) (Pty) Ltd.
NPC’s vision has always been to be the leading plastic pipe manufacturer in Namibia, by producing polyethylene and PVC pipe to local and international standards.
This vision is being achieved by an extensive growth in production capacity, and through investment in equipment and people.
As Namibia’s leading pipe manufacturer, the company proudly contributes to economic development, by providing solutions to the country’s infrastructural network of water mains, irrigation and sewer and drain systems.
NPC’s commitment is to provide new technology and the continued development of products, services and people.
The company has been the wholesale plumbing, sanitation and hardware distributor for the South African headquartered Dawn Group since 2010. Its products are available from rental merchants throughout the Land of the Brave.
NPC resident director and retail shareholder, Koos Ehlers, said during an interview this week with the Windhoek Observer that the Dawn Group of companies bought the DPI shareholding in NPC in 2004.
“Then in 2009, we integrated the NPC operation into the Dawn Group of companies, and we became the official distribution outlet for the Dawn Group’s wholesale business.
“We currently employ 74 people, and we should be going towards 85 people, during the course of next year,” Ehlers said.
Asked if there are any exciting expansion plans in the pipeline, he said: “We’ve just gone into exports into Botswana. We closed part of our business in Botswana and we bought all the equipment and brought it to Okahandja, to expand our manufacturing facility, and we have already started exporting to Botswana, Angola and Zambia.”
Asked what made the company unique and what some of the ingredients of its success story were, Ehlers said that part of their “biggest success story” was that they do not compete with the merchants, but that the merchants were their customers, and are serviced daily “by the Number One team – the NPC employees”.
“Their support has been excellent. The local community also supports us. In terms of government projects, we have managed to secure a lot of government projects, because we give the government preferential treatment, and they support us from that point of view.”
Highest standards and quality
NPC is a South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Mark Scheme holder and are also an ISO 9001 registered and accredited company. ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight principles upon which the family of standards is based, while ISO 9001 deals with the requirements that organisations wishing to meet the standard must fulfil.
“Our DPI Group in South Africa, where we do a lot of our development, has been a leading plastics company in South Africa since 1950, when plastic was introduced in that country. So we are the plastic industry,” Ehlers said.
Commenting on the exciting developments in Okahandja, he said: “We stay in Windhoek and we travel the Okahandja road every day, and sometimes more than once a day, and the development that we see taking place in Okahandja is exciting, particularly the establishment of the SA Breweries plant. We knew right from the moment that this development started, that we were going to see some development in Okahandja.
“The way the traffic has increased between Okahandja and Windhoek, you can see that there are a lot more people living in Okahandja, than before.
“When the dual carriage way is sorted out, travelling to and from Windhoek will be like a walk in the park. So from that point of view, we have seen Okahandja developing, and obviously it goes with growth pains, along with the rest of the growth pains we have in the country, and some misdirected effort, if you want to call it that.
“But it would be great to see if we can pull ourselves together, because I believe we can quite easily go back to the Garden Town of Namibia, with a little bit of effort and commitment,” Ehlers said.
“I think the only sword that has been hanging around everybody’s head is the impact of the NEEEF (New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework) programme, and what is going to happen.
“I think that has put some brakes on the system a bit, because there is a lot of speculation and uncertainty, and when you start speculating, in terms of Murphy’s Law, you are always on the negative side. I have never seen any positive speculation ever, so that’s not nice.
“What we do see, and this for me is the most positive and exciting bit, is that despite the current economic climate in Namibia, with the introduction of our export markets, which is already running, my dream is that NPC will be double in size by 2018.
“We are 13 times bigger than what we were in 1995/96 and we will be double the size that we are now, in 2018.
“The export market into Angola, despite the negative comments you get from people talking about Angola’s economy that has collapsed, I say that is part of the problem, but you drive past the problem, pass over it, under it, next to it. If you listen to all the negative comments, then you will never go anywhere.”
Ehlers added that it was sad that many local communities in Namibia do not pay attention to the industries that operate in Okahandja, and have little knowledge of the high quality products that are produced and manufactured, which puts Namibia on the map.