Juan van Schalkwyk, director of Amanzi Meters, receives the company’s award at the KZN Exporter of the Year Awards from Transnet Port Terminals chief executive Nozipho Sithole and Durban Chamber President Musa Makhunga. Kenako Mutlimedia
Durban - When the founders of Amanzi Meters pooled their life savings to start the Tongaat water meter manufacturing firm, their aim was to produce high-quality products that could compete with the best in the market.

Six years later the company has walked off with a top award in the category, Africa, in the KwaZulu-Natal Exporter of the Year Awards held in Durban last week.

Juan van Schalkwyk, a former banker in corporate and business finance who founded the firm with his business partner, design engineer Johan van der Merwe in 2012, said it had been a challenging journey to achieve its success, which now includes product exports into Africa.

Amanzi Meters designs, develops and manufactures plastic water meters, including high-tech smart meters, ball valves and a range of meter boxes made out of composite materials.

Products are manufactured in an ISO-rated facility and are tested according to the Legal Metrology Act in the firm’s South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited laboratory.

The company has achieved its SABS ISO9001:2015 accreditation.

“It’s an industry with very high barriers to entry because the regulatory environment is very strict, so we had to put up our own verification laboratory to comply with regulations. We then started manufacturing our own water meters which we had SANAS approve,” he said.

“When we started the business in the first year we had no income and we had a partner who pulled out because he could not sustain himself. We eventually ran out of money and became part of the Micromega Group,” he said.

Today the company employs 29 staff and has indirectly created a further 71 downstream jobs at its supplier firms as it expands its export reach in Africa.

“We export into Africa - it’s not easy to get into the export market - and we have recently had our meters approved in Kenya and are waiting for the order to come through.

“Our first export was into Zambia in 2016 and we have exported to Namibia, Lesotho and Mozambique. We are also exploring export opportunities in east Africa,” Van Schalkwyk said.

He said the firm was focused on empowerment and staff development and about 50% of its staff were women.

The Mercury