Vulcan’s new MD Preggie Govender’s vision for growth

Vulcan Catering Equipment has a new Managing Director, Preggie Govender, who assumed the role in January and has moved from Vulcan’s Durban office to its head office in Industria, Johannesburg.

Govender, 48, has a 29-year history with the company having moved up the ranks over the years. He was in charge of Vulcan’s KwaZulu-Natal operations, in the capacity of Regional Director, prior to his appointment as Managing Director at South Africa's largest manufacturer and marketer of catering equipment.

“It is great to be heading up Vulcan, which I have been a part of for so long and seen it grow to becoming a leader in the industry. Vulcan has a 65-year track record in the manufacture and supply of quality commercial and industrial catering equipment and accessories. Today, we do business beyond South Africa’s borders in several neighbouring countries too,” comments Govender.

Vulcan is a major supplier to the food services industry across several sectors, from restaurants and fast-food outlets, to hospitals, corporate cafeterias, various institutions, the hospitality sector (guesthouses, hotels, lodges), retailers and bakeries. The company represents numerous leading international brands, which compliment locally manufactured products to ensure the widest range of state-of-the-art equipment. This includes bespoke units for food preparation, cooking, food distribution, point-of-sale display, ware-washing equipment, storage and now even laundry equipment.

“I’ve settled into the position following my relocation from Durban to Johannesburg. Vulcan is an established leader in the industry, but there is always room for improvement and I am looking to take Vulcan to the next level. This includes focusing on our core catering and bakery equipment business, but also on new areas of expansion such as equipment maintenance and the laundry equipment market,” says Govender.

“While we supply some of the world’s leading brands, Vulcan has a fully-fledged factory in Johannesburg that employs around 140 people. The factory manufactures a local range of more than 13,500 different stainless steel products for the food services industry and there is potential to expand the range as well as look at new stainless steel products for other industries. Currently, our factory uses more than 300 tons of stainless steel annually,” he adds.

Vulcan, which in 1992 became a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bidvest Group Limited – a JSE-listed company – employs close to 300 people across the country. In addition to its Johannesburg head office, sales division and factory, it has regional offices in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth, as well as an extensive Dealer Network across Africa, including Mauritius.

Govender says the QSL (quick service logistics) market has exploded with the continuous growth of restaurant and fast food chains in the country. Vulcan counts some of the biggest brands in the sector as its clients, including chains in the Famous Brands Group as well as KFC, Nandos and Pizza Hut amongst others.

“We are focusing vigorously on the QSL market, but the hospitality industry has presented some good opportunities. For instance, we did a bit of work on the recent big expansion at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World on Durban’s beachfront; and, have also secured a contract for bespoke food preparation facilities at a major new convention centre development in Swaziland. More recently, we have also completed several projects on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles and proudly added to our list of successful projects in other parts of the African continent,” he adds.

Govender notes that with tough economic conditions in South Africa, the retail and other sectors are under pressure. “To help mitigate this, Vulcan will also be focusing on building its catering equipment maintenance and servicing division, especially as companies hold back on investing in new equipment. Who better to service and maintain the equipment than the company that supplied the equipment,” he says.

“Product and service development is an ongoing commitment at Vulcan, in a consistent and determined effort to adapt to ever-changing market trends. While we are known as the leading commercial catering and bakery equipment supplier in the country, the commercial laundry equipment arena presents expansion opportunities for the business. We already supply hospitals and hotels with catering and food preparation equipment, so we can leverage off our existing clientele to grow our commercial laundry equipment business,” he adds.

Govender passionately declares: “We have a can-do attitude at Vulcan. When we say we make it happen, we mean it and we deliver”.

Preggie Govender