We see ourselves as an international player in the foundry industry,” says Atlantis Foundries GM Mervin Moodley. “Indeed, we are taking all the necessary steps to establish ourselves as the best foundry in the world.” An expert in the production of automotive castings for the commercial vehicle industry, Atlantis Foundries operates a full machining facility from its plant in Atlantis, South Africa, some 60km from Cape Town. Supplier to the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Caterpillar and Mitsubishi Fuso, its roster is indicative of the quality standards achieved; the company aspires for excellence in all arenas. Moreover, Atlantis Foundries is committed to sharing its success with everyone in its chain, from shareholders and suppliers, to customers and even its immediate community.
Although the company takes a progressive outlook, it has roots in the ancient craft of ironmongery. Africa’s Iron Age dates from 500 BC to 1400 AD, and this age-old art of shaping iron has evolved into the complex and intricate cast products of today. Atlantis continues a tradition of working with iron and has perfected it to modern standards.
Mervin Moodley was appointed as the sole Executive Director and General Manager of the business in May this year and is getting stuck in to his new role with gusto. With a background in finance and four and a half years of senior management experience under his belt – combined with a natural aptitude for number crunching and an eye for detail –he was the clear successor to the position. It’s evident he knows the business inside out.
Mervin says: “Foundries are dynamic, complex beasts. You learn every day, especially on the technical side, because this area is evolving so fast. When you’re always learning, you are able to understand the business better and contribute even more to the company.”
One of the changes at Atlantis Foundries that Mervin Moodley is most proud of is implementing the introduction of smart technology, welcomed during his directorship three years ago.
“We are bringing in technology that nobody else in the industry is using”, he says. “We see ourselves as a ‘Smart Foundry’ and have embraced the likes of artificial intelligence to grow our business and remain ahead of the game. This has made a major contribution to quality and seen us improve leaps and bounds. It’s fair to say that the industry and its associates are astounded by the progress we have made.”
As a result of this evolution, any issues in the production process have been ironed out and Atlantis is proud to deliver a refined product of only the highest quality.
“From an automotive perspective,” says Mervin Moodley, “quality is very, very important to ensure a reliable, durable product. Our customers all enjoy fantastic reputations in terms of quality and excellence, and we’re proud to be part of these relationships. The cost of after-market problems is a tremendous issue for automotive suppliers. Any product suspected of having faults is recalled immediately, which is both costly and hugely damaging to the brand. As a component supplier, when we deliver we reduce the risk of something like that happening. We also reduce client production costs because we’re providing the most reliable products.”
An export only business, the next phase plan for Atlantis Foundries is to attack the local market. South Africa is focused on growing its automotive industry and has a 2030 National Development Plan in place: the timing is ideal.
Mervin says: “This is an exciting time for us to look at diversification. There’s potential to add additional lines to our portfolio and a variety of other products. At this point in time we’ve focused primarily on heavy duty commercial engines but we’re considering going into the medium duty range for SUVs and so forth.”
Another plan in the next 18 months is to expand the business. Atlantis has already blossomed from a foundry producing 10-15,000 tons per annum up to 75,000 tons per annum, and the next target of churning out 110 – 120,000 tons per annum is now within sight. All this would never have been possible were it not for the relationships Atlantis Foundries has nurtured over the years. From investing in developing businesses as part of a homegrown supply chain, to funding the growth of small businesses into profitable, well-run entities, Atlantis Foundries ensures quality standards are met throughout the process.
“It’s critical for our long-term sustainability to have a relationship with suppliers and customers. By extending our hand we give – but we also receive; it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
This family-orientated attitude is also extended through Atlantis Foundries’ CSR program. As an important local employer, the company recognizes that it is partly responsible for creating and maintaining a sustainable, wealthy and safe society. Education is a top priority and charitable endeavours include soup kitchens, bursaries and donations. In fact, just a small donation goes a long way: for every voluntary contribution from an employee, Atlantis Foundries will triple the amount.
“We’re still in what is classified as a developing country,” says Mervin Moodley. “Atlantis Foundries has the potential to play a key role in putting South Africa on the map in terms of what we’re able to deliver and the responsible way in which we build our business. Despite the perceptions around developing countries, we are able to compete on a global scale. Not only have we contributed a significant amount to Africa’s GDP, we will continue to add value to the South African base.”