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Steelcraft’s product range includes items for the bathroom and kitchen, homeware essentials and braai accessories, as well as commercial products and contract manufacturing.

Employing the unemployed

Brothers Wilhelm and Christo Lourens started Steelcraft in 1997. In those days, they had a 100m2  factory in Brackenfell with just two employees. Fast forward to 2018, and their factory is 3500m2 in size with 65 employees. “We carefully choose our employees from the unemployed ranks,” explains Wilhelm. “We choose them for their talent to master the skills needed to work with stainless steel, and then train them extensively in-house. They become dedicated craftsmen working with the most technologically advanced machinery and creating beautiful work.”

It’s this dual emphasis on upskilling disadvantaged individuals and producing top-quality local goods that makes Steelcraft such a proudly South African company. “We use superior materials and the best technical equipment to create top quality, durable products,” Wilhelm explains. With a sole emphasis on stainless steel, Steelcraft specialises in wire manufacturing and sheet metal fabrication, and manufactures everything in-house in their Brackenfell factory.

“Steelcraft locally manufacture the highest standard of stainless steel products in South Africa: in-house. We employ the unemployed and train them in the skills required to be master craftsmen.”

Digital expansion

Although Steelcraft has had a website (hosted by Hetzner) since 1999, it was only in 2017 that they took the leap to e-commerce. It was a logical next step, because they wanted to make their full product range available to customers nationwide. “The website makes it much easier to assist customers who we might have lost if they couldn’t get to our physical store,” says Wilhelm.  “It also means we can ship our products across South Africa -- all from our Brackenfell factory.”

Adapt to thrive

Adapting to the changing retail landscape is just one of many changes Steelcraft has had to make to stay at the forefront of the stainless steel industry in South Africa. “I’d say the best advice we could offer is: Adapt to thrive. To start a business looks easier than it is. Although there will be many challenges, they always come with solutions. Implementing the correct solution is the real challenge.” Part of that challenge is finding the right partners.

“We were advised by our IT company in 1999 to host with Hetzner. 19 years later, there’s just one word to describe our relationship with Hetzner: hassle-free.”

Photography: Mike Rose