Humble beginnings, 600% growth, Breweries’ support, new factory
When Johan Struwig and Development Bank of Namibia Senior Business Analyst, Uuyuni Thomas dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s on a N$5 million loan for a new branch of Namibia Plastics in Walvis Bay, it started an expansion phase which lead to this week’s announcement that the company is constructing a new manufacturing plant near Windhoek.
The growth story of Namibia Plastics as a local supplier of plastic bottles and packaging started in 2010 when the young Struwig quit his day job in financial services to start his own company – without premises, without clients and without income.
After making hundreds of marketing calls over several months, Struwig was stuck. Potential clients did not want to risk their supply lines by backing an upstart behind a startup with no other clients. Even Struwig’s assurance that his suppliers have large South African clients could not sway local companies to give him a chance.
That was until he met Christin Obst, the Manager of Strategic Sourcing at Namibia Breweries Ltd, who listened to his story and then decided to give him a small pilot consignment, then valued at just over N$77,000.
“Obst was very adamant and demanded a clear roadmap of our plans for a footprint in Namibia. The support from Namibia Breweries was on condition that we sign a contract to commit ourselves to produce plastic locally when we reach large enough volumes,” said Struwig.
With the support from the Breweries, Namibia Plastics continued to grow now naming amongst its regular clientele such recognised brands as Ohorongo Cement, Bokomo, Namib Poultry Industries, Namib Mills, Namib Foam, Coca Cola, Etosha Fisheries and Seaworks Fish Processors.
And since the contractual volumes have materialised, Namibia Plastics raised the funding for the new 2660 m2 manufacturing plant at Brakwater of which the construction started recently.
If Struwig’s ambitious calculations are true, the output by Namibia Plastics will substitute an estimated 50% of packaging-specific plastic imports.
Commenting on Namibia Plastics growth trajectory, Obst emphasized that supporting local enterprises is the passion of Namibia Breweries and its parent, the O&L Group.
“Before we look anywhere else, we will always have a close look at home first, to see if the goods and services we need can be supplied by Namibian companies. Adding value locally should be a first option for each and every Namibian business,” said Obst.
Pictured at the time of signing the first contract with the Development Bank of Namibia are Johan Struwig and DBN Senior Business Analyst, Uuyuni Thomas.