- Published on 01 January 2017
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By Ilana Koegelenberg
Dalucon Refrigeration Products, a family business, has been around for 25 years, starting from humble beginnings in a garage to the full-scale local manufacturing operation it is today.
The business was founded in 1991 by Aldo Martinelli, who is still involved and adds value to the business with his vast knowledge and years of experience. The operation is now in the hands of his sons, Marco and Stefano, who have grown it substantially over the years.
Dalucon’s modern premises in Centurion (its home since 2007), boasts 7 000m2 of manufacturing space, 800m2 of office space, and 3 000m2 of storage space. Yet, the space is never enough and the operation is bursting at its seams, Marco Martinelli explains.
One of the mortuary cabinets that is manufactured at Dalucon.
Products and services
The company specialises in insulated panels in all shapes and sizes. Cold rooms, warehouses, insulated refrigerated truck bodies, humidifier rooms, clean rooms — everything insulated. It is also involved in the manufacturing of specialised mortuary cold store equipment and cabinets. “Anything with insulation properties — we can do it,” said Marco Martinelli.
Challenges with local manufacturing
Dalucon currently employs more than 100 staff members permanently, most of them in the factory. Marco Martinelli cites labour and everything that comes with it as his biggest challenge.
Then there is the issue of skills — especially the fact that the mining houses keep poaching its staff. Dalucon has lost seven welders in the past three years because of this. For only a few rands more, the worker will take on a contract at the mine, but inevitably come looking for their job when the contract period is over.
Power supply also isn’t an issue because the company has its own backup generator. Although, the area has been fairly lucky with the stability of supply.
The company employs more than 100 staff members of various skill levels.
Benefits of local manufacturing
“Local manufacturing is a dying trade,” says Marco Martinelli. “Some of our competitors chose to import insulated panels from China, the Middle East and Europe. It’s much easier to import from these countries and few people care about anything but price these days.”
Where Dalucon gains its competitive edge is the fact that they do such specialised work — things that you cannot simply order from a catalogue.
Then of course, there is the quicker turnaround time when compared to importing. Where lead times are normally two to three months on the imports, Dalucon can turn it around in four weeks — another edge particularly in projects with time constraints.
Because it’s a family owned business, it also has the added benefit of being able to make quick market-related decisions. We don’t need board or shareholder approval or have to follow other drawn-out approval processes and red tape “If we want to buy a new machine, we simply do it. We don’t have to wait around,” Marco Martinelli says.
The company has a good name in the market because of its attention to detail — often a stark contrast with cheaper, imported goods. It tries not to import anything from China, and the goods that simply cannot be sourced locally is shipped in from Italy and Germany.
“We have done most of our big investments over the past five years, so we will consolidate our position by improving more on quality issues and tweaking the small things,” explains Marco Martinelli.