While many businesses ground to a halt during lockdown, EIE Industrial Equipment Group continues to pursue growth opportunities, recently acquiring Uni-Cape Equipment, a lifting equipment operation in the Western Cape. Its vision is to double Uni-Cape’s size over the next few years and make it a more significant player in the industry.
EIE Group CEO, Gary Neubert, says the decision to acquire Uni-Cape Equipment was prompted by the company reviewing its 600SA business model. “600SA is largely a truck-mounted crane and waste compactor business and we wanted it to have a similar business model to the Toyota Forklift side of our business.”
“We have 600SA branches in Johannesburg and Durban, but no representation in Cape Town. We had two options; set up a branch from scratch, which is expensive and time consuming, or acquire a business with a good reputation and similar culture to ours,” he adds.
With its 35-year history of supplying cranes, lifts, docking equipment and pallet trucks in the Western Cape, the company was a perfect fit for EIE Group. In addition, its owner and managing director, Chris Coxwell, had approached Neubert in 2019 about selling the business.
Neubert says while the business will become a branch of 600SA, it will retain its unique branding and offering. “Because Uni-Cape is a well-known brand in the Western Cape, it will remain a standalone business, but we will enhance its product range with CT Power forklifts, a Toyota-owned Chinese brand, Waste compactors as well as Sinoboom aerial platforms.
“One of the greatest benefits that Uni-Cape represents for us is its relationship with Stab-A-Load, which specialises in warehouse doors and dock levellers, amongst others. We have always wanted to operate in that market and this will be a good opportunity for us to do so in the Western Cape,” notes Neubert.
Uni-Cape also brings Palfinger marine cranes to the product mix. Until recently, 600SA had the Fassi range of truck-mounted cranes in its suite of offerings. The relationship was, however, terminated by mutual agreement at the beginning of this year. Uni-Cape’s Palfinger product range will ensure that the EIE Group can continue offering marine cranes.
Neubert says Uni-Cape’s culture is similar to that of the EIE Group. “Over the years, we have noted the good relationship Chris has developed with his customers and the way the business is run. We appointed Stephen Berg as branch manager on 1 October, but Chris will stay on for about six months to ensure the handover process is seamless. After that, he will fulfil a consulting role, where necessary. Notably, all Uni-Cape employees will retain their positions in the business as we need their skills.”
Neubert says he is excited about acquiring a business of Uni-Cape’s stature. “With its long history in the province and good name in the industry, we are delighted to welcome all Uni-Cape’s employees into the EIE Group fold and look forward to working with them to take the business to the next level.”