As Aristotle puts it, excellence is not an act, but a habit. We are glad to bring similar such saga of resilience from Zambia. Zambia as known as one of the leading producer of copper in the world. Although the market has not been stable over the years, due to varied reasons, there is a spirited manufacturer – Strongpak Ltd which lived excellence in true spirits. Strongpak is now one of the largest manufacturers of Plastic Polymer woven bags in Zambia and the neighboring countries. The manufacturing unit of Strongpak is located in Kitwe, the Copperbelt Region of Zambia. Faber Infinite Consulting is proud to be associated with Strongpak over the last 2 years now.
We are glad to share glimpses of our discussion with Mr. Ruben, Country Head of Strongpak Ltd. on how the Zambian economy is doing, and how is the manufacturing industry coping with the changes, sustaining and how Strongpak has been growing despite all odds.
Faber Infinite (FI): Mr. Ruben, we understand that Zambia has been going through lots of ups and downs. What are your views on the Zambian economy?
Mr. Ruben GS. (RGS): The economy of Zambia was weak in 2015-16 as there was a crash in the prices of the commodities, due to factors like the decrease in oil prices, elections around the corner, and the copper industry not doing so well. The year 2017 is on the road to recovery, it is trying to gain momentum as prices are trying to stabilize and conditions of the market are improving. With the improving conditions, there are hopes that the year of 2018 will be much better over the past 3 years.
FI: What are the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector of Zambia?
RGS: Zambia is a landlocked country. The manufacturing sector has a smaller market share in Zambia, the reason being, high cost of manufacturing cost when compared to many other countries.
FI: How is Strongpak managing to overcome the challenges faced in the Manufacturing Industry?
RGS: With the higher production cost, the customers of Strongpak get an opportunity to shift to the alternative products. This being the major challenge, Strongpak focuses on improving its Operational Efficiency. It may be related to reducing the cost or increasing the productivity. Strongpak has successfully improved in terms of productivity. Strongpak successfully managed the wastage parameters as compared to the competitors in other countries. This way we are able to provide our customers prices of products which are at par with the global prices and at good quality.
Operational Excellence is the reason for the survival and progress of Strongpak. We have been applying operational excellence principles and working on operational excellence projects, not only in terms of manpower, material, management, productivity, but also in terms of technology we use. We have always selected the best possible technology which will give the best operational excellence, in terms of better efficiency, cost and quality.
FI: The transformational journey at Strongpak is termed as Buyantanshi. How has Faber helped you in your Transformational Journey?
RGS: Team Faber has been associated with Strongpak, and they have very well understood the business challenges for Strongpak as well as challenges related to Zambian economy. Like in every relationship, both parties should be on the same page. Faber has expert resources and skills in the domain of operational excellence, which gets them to pick the right tool for the issues being faced. Faber has applied the Operational Excellence tools and techniques as per Strongpak requirements and along with Strongpak Team, they tried to solve the exact issue faced by the company. This turned out to be a win-win situation to both, Strongpak and Faber as well.
FI: What does Strongpak think of Faber?
RGS: The methodology recently introduced at Strongpak for involving maximum employees for multiple small projects has benefited the employees and the organization as well. Faber has tried to use the methodology which best fit the issues, thus avoiding the usual constraints faced when imitating the operational tools applied at other companies. Faber has been a partner in the journey of continuous improvement. This engagement has been mutually beneficial to Strongpak as well as Faber. For Faber, this journey has helped understand the challenges in a new economy. For Strongpak they have seen many business improvements in the domain of operational excellence.
We at Faber thank our esteemed client Mr. Ruben for sharing his insights on the transformation journey. Working with Strongpak has been a real honor and we value our association with them. We congratulate and wish Mr. Ruben, Mr. JP, and Strongpak team all the success for many more years to come.