Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, local manufacturer Pratley has at least two new adhesive products in the pipeline, including a possible new adhesive range. It also has at least one new electrical product due to be launched early next year. “We have improved many of our production processes and streamlined a lot of procedures,” comments Pratley CEO Andrew Pratley.
“We have also onboarded and welcomed quite a few new staff members, thanks to good growth and despite uncertain macro-economic conditions,” adds Andrew. Adding to its distinguished list of world firsts, the company has just launched its Pratley Flameproof Ex d Envirobox electrical termination product.
Commenting on Pratley’s longevity and brand loyalty, the CEO says: “A name is only built on trust gained over many years. South African consumers see Pratley as a tried, tested, and trusted brand. They are aware of the reliability aspect that goes hand-in-hand. A lot of gratitude is owed to our customers, who have in many instances, also taught us a lot about our own products over the decades.”
He highlights that the company’s policies and ethos as a family business has stood it in good stead over the decades. “During uncertain economic times is when this really counts. For example, we have resisted the temptation to accumulate debt. This alone puts us ahead of most and allows us to grow sustainably.” Another major contributor to Pratley’s success has been its ongoing diversification drive. “We are constantly looking out for new opportunities and markets.”
As for the future, he points out that “the pace at which change happens these days is eyewatering, especially in a South African context. One needs to adapt very quickly to survive and thrive. Our core policies will always remain in place, but certainly from a growth perspective, we will accelerate growth internationally, especially into Africa.”
He adds he is “not naïve to think that 75 years guarantees another 75 years. That requires constant adaptation and agility, but we will continue to do what we do best and leverage our strengths. We are good at producing highly innovative and unique products, and at the core of that is good R&D.”
The company’s export market has seen significant growth, thanks to the combination of a favourable exchange rate and additional resources aimed at expanding that side of the business. “Our efforts are bearing fruit with more international customers becoming aware of our products and innovations,” he says.
As for constraints facing small and medium business in South Africa, Andrew is unconvinced that the environment has changed much for the better. “I would like to say yes but, unfortunately, I think the opposite is true. For any real change to happen, a business-friendly environment needs to be created. That requires political will. Happy businesses employ more people. More employment naturally leads to a happier country. It really is as simple as that.”
Companies are not simply made up of bricks and mortar and it is the right people that ultimately make a business achieve a 75-year milestone. It is for this reason that Pratley will host an in-house event for its staff to celebrate the occasion. “A company is gauged by the company that it keeps, and we have kept good company over the years. Ultimately, the sentiment is sincere gratitude to all our employees, customers, and suppliers for 75 years of Pratley,” he concludes.