Crabtree Electrical recently appointed Antony van Driel as General Manager Operations to oversee the operational side of the business and drive and maintain the already high-quality products from the company to the customer. Van Driel has an extensive history in Operations Management and was drawn to Crabtree being a market leader in the sector. “It is an excellent brand with superior quality, and I was impressed by the professional way daily business is conducted within the company,” he says.
Van Driel’s experience has come primarily in the food manufacturing industry, although he also has experience in motor manufacturing, chemicals and injection moulding. After matriculating at Dr. EG Jansen High School, van Driel studied Mechanical Engineering in Pretoria before completing an BBA degree. “I grew up with plastic injection moulding,” he says, “And I believe my grandfather had one of the first plastic injection moulding machines in the country, making components for Kodak when it was still around.”
His initial impression of the electrical industry is a, “very exciting, challenging and competitive market driven by price and quality”. As a developing-country exporter, he believes Crabtree will be at an advantage by manufacturing high volume products locally, thus positioning Crabtree’s extensive product range more competitively in the South African market. “In this context, developing countries such as us have started benefiting from a production shift away from China and having local stable supply will become increasingly important over time.
The company hopes to invest in automation over time and to further strengthen its position as a global manufacturer of electrical devices; Crabtree is well placed, with backing from Siemens, to meet the challenges ahead and it is an exciting opportunity of growth that will benefit South Africa,” he explains Manufacturing; however, tends always to face challenges and opportunities. The need to control costs continues to be a priority and supply capabilities will remain a core focus for Crabtree. The matter of imported and locally manufactured electrical equipment which does not conform to any recognised standard, but which is still sold to the unsuspecting end-user, is another challenge he foresees.
When asked about his goals for the company, van Driel states that his short-term goal is simply to break into the field. “I need to start building a strong presence in the industry, working for a company I respect and doing a job that I enjoy. My long-term goals are to earn new responsibilities within the company, ultimately helping the company to succeed in the long term.” On a macro level, he believes that the outlook for South Africa is currently driven by Eskom, which will be the main driver for business confidence, investments and eventually economic growth. “Should we see an improvement, then the growth will be in line. However, I am looking forward to this new adventure in the electrical industry.”
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