TSSN Carriers was founded in 2008 by businessman and entrepreneur Themba Dukes Nyathi. After earning a BA in Law from Wits University, and an MBA from Business School Netherlands in Europe, he was instrumental in the growth of MTN South Africa, one of the largest communications companies in Africa, where he worked for seventeen years as a senior Executive before building his own business.
Specializing in services involved in the realm of civil, electrical engineering including plant hire, general building and manufacturing, water infrastructure provision and the consultation of engineering projects, TSSN Carriers has established itself as a reliable all-in-one solution provider to the industry.
“Over the last fourteen years since I founded the business,” Themba says, “We have been commissioned by and completed work for both the private and the public sector.”
He goes on to mention that despite the range of business services that his business offers today, that it all began with him working as a specialist general builder in the early 2000s and has grown organically from there.
“Now we handle turnkey projects, with solutions for design, architecture, feasibility studies, civil engineering and actual construction as an integrated value chain,” he explains, “We have also diversified into property development.”
Their main clients are primarily from rural social infrastructure projects that cater for the poor. As these include vital projects such as the building of schools, roads, water projects and social housing, it includes working and liaising with many rural and urban industrialised communities, unions and highly politicized groups.
“Communication is the number one priority,” he explains, “All relationships and ideas begin from there and it is the best way to handle people.”
With over 840 members directly and indirectly employed through subcontracted contracts Themba’s company provides a much needed source of employment and work for many communities. Enabling his staff with the best residential roofing contractors to gain important skills through accredited competencies in roofing, bricklaying, paving, electrical services, project management, plastering and more.
According to Themba, working with the right people with the right skill sets and experience has helped the company expand greatly. With this growth has come the ability to offer more in the way of services as well as being able to take on increasingly challenging projects.
“In 2008 our order book was under R20 million a year, today in 2019 alone our order book has grown substantially, exceeding R840 million,” he says, “And much of this can be attributed to our focus being on quality and sustainable growth and not just money. We also take over failed community projects and fully fund them from our balance sheet.”
Themba explains that one of his philosophies is to be very particular with hiring and will only hire self -motivated goal orientated individuals. Choosing not to hire those traditional employees who see the company as just an opportunity to draw a salary, he prefers those who have the same perspective as he. Just as important, you have to make sure you have the proper partners ready to provide any services you could require that would otherwise majorly slow down projects. Themba has this situation well at hand of course. In the event of any major malfunction regarding the equipment being used in construction by his company, he is able to request gearbox repairs in short notice to the partner company he has a previous arrangement with. In doing so, what could in some cases mean a full stop of construction for one or more days turns into a small break.
“Our key staff on projects must be self-made business people who consider TSSN as a training ground for their own future businesses,” he says, “With a strong entrepreneurial mindset and a determination to succeed and complete targets.”
He goes on to add, “I see it as a sign of a strong company that highly trained and professional staff members choose to stay rather than set up themselves.”
A big believer in ABT, Alternative Building Technologies, Themba is an ambassador for innovation and change in his industry and has spent much time convincing and guiding his customers to use the latest cutting edge technologies and methodologies.
“Our processes are automated and supported by the latest data processing technologies such as CCS,” he says, “And our approach follows the same commitment.”
He goes on to explain that in Cape Town they are building social housing flats using ABT and that this project doesn’t involve any bricks. The flats are environmentally friendly, using moulds and a special patented mixture instead of bricks and mortar. In winter the units absorb heat efficiently and in summer it is discharged evenly, offering all the standards of a brick house but with limited environmental impact.
Themba recalls one of the projects that TSSN were involved in that he considers to be a triumph for the business.
The project consisted of demolishing an informal settlement at Empumelweni, Witbank Mpumalanga and designing, planning and constructing over three thousand formal dignified houses to accommodate over twenty thousand people who could not have otherwise afforded such accommodation.
This was not a straight forward process, as he explains, “The community had unfortunately been taken advantage of by other contractors,” he says, “They had not delivered and this poor service and failure to complete the project had left them hopeless and without any trust.”
This has resulted in a number of community hurdles that had to be carefully handled, but even so there was still political interference from community structures, continuous striking over allocation of houses and political pressure from upon high.
“It was a frustrating time,” Themba recalls, “However it was understandable as we had to demolish a shack and build a house in its place and this causes a lot of inconvenience and concern for the community. The other contractors had left them in such a state that there were times when the community seemed to be actively against the project.”
With dogged determination however, the project was completed, and the community finally had a neighbourhood they could be proud of. The overall quality of life of the residence improved and TSSN were acknowledged by the community. It took three years to complete and it won them one of the Contractor of The Year status by the Mpumalanga government.
Themba has been in the industry for long enough to know the importance of taking on diverse challenges such as the Empumelweni project, and the importance of keeping up with the latest technologies, techniques and developments in the industry. In fact, he reveals that he likes to expose himself to as many varied techniques from as many different sources as possible.
“I keep abreast of all the construction benchmarks and travel the world to see the latest construction and engineering trends,” he reveals, “I find that different countries manage challenges and problems in different ways. This reminds me to keep an open mind and to explore different solutions whenever my business comes up against one.”
INDUSTRY HURDLES AND SOLUTIONS
Exceeding a client’s expectations is a target that Themba drives his business to aim for. Not only because the only way to stand out against the competition is to be better in all aspects than them, but also because clients deserve to be happily surprised.
To create a company that can consistently do this is not a simple thing, Themba reveals that one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment is a lack of skills not only in the hands-on building industry but in financial analysts, project managers, process and civil engineers and specialist technicians.
“South Africa suffers from a skills exodus,” he admits, “Graduates leave school and head abroad for better opportunities, but the issue is endemic of the schooling and educational system and not just because people think the grass is greener overseas.”
Themba’s response is to provide vocational, experiential learnerships and graduate programs that allow them to train up new staff members while they work and earn. Allowing the business to tap into the rich resource of those who learn better on the job. A man with his eye always on the future for his business, community and country, Themba believes that the educational system in South Africa could do with a revamp.
“I think the system needs to change to focus on real skills that are required by industries like they do in Japan and East Asia,” he says, “These areas are seeing economic growth on an exponential factor while our more traditional educational systems today produce irrelevant skills, creating a gap between what is needed and what is known which graduates have to jump across.”
The new year is going to be an exciting one for TSSN Carriers with a number of promising projects in the Western Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal.
These include building one of the biggest education facilities in deep rural KZN Pongola through private public partnerships. For the first time the black rural villagers will have an educational facility complete with swimming pools, tennis courts, laboratories, computer centres etc. The facility will also service the whole community and provide a high standard of education for everyone.
“By doing our part to build up the communities we set the platform for them to do great things in the future,” he says.
ADDRESS: 222 Rivonia Rd, Sandton
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 0027 (0) 83 222 7412