An exceptional woman – Norma Mansoor – an inspiration in the ready-mix concrete sector
Norma Mansoor, is an unusual woman in many respects. She is the sole owner of Mix Masters, a ready-mix concrete supplier. She started her own business only three years ago with a loan of R450 000, one FAW 33.330 FC 6m3 mixer truck, a truck owner-driver and a small plant in Olifantsfontein, outside Pretoria.
Her unique ‘Iron Lady’-like attitude, combined with an empathy for others, have set her apart from many other larger competitors. “Good business is built of good relationships,” she says.
She has earned the loyalty and respect of many customers – even from some competitors too. This can be attributed to her unflinching tenacity to supply only the best product for a particular job without compromise on her business values.
Today, a mere three years after starting up, she runs a fleet of 10 personally owned FAW 6m3 ready-mix vehicles, an 8-tonner FAW flatbed and owns two plants – with possibly a third plant on the horizon. Her business is continuously growing, based on quality concrete without compromising on service.
“The FAW 33.330FC mixers in my fleet provide great cost efficiencies and are real ‘die-hard’ trucks,” say Norma Mansoor. “They are robust, get the job done and seldom, if ever, have downtime – critical in my line of business.”
The 33.330 6×4 mixers are powered by a hardy 9 726 cm3, six-in-line, water-cooled turbo-charged and intercooled Weichai engine, which produces a solid 245kW at 2 200rpm and a healthy 1 250kN torque at 1 400rpm.
“The chassis are sturdy and strong, the drivetrain is simple and easy to maintain. I think it’s the simplicity of the vehicles that contributes to so little going wrong with them.”
Vehicles under warranty are serviced through the FAW network, while a fulltime diesel mechanic services older ones on-site. Mix Masters fleet is spotless, as a complete wash-down and water spray is done on each vehicle leaving the plant on every trip. “My trucks reflect my business – they have to be immaculate.” Blazoned on each truck is the slogan ‘All glory to you, God’.
Norma explains: “I’m not religious at all. I serve a big God. I believe in truth, integrity, honesty and fair dealings and, so too, acknowledge God in my company and in my life.”
Norma is a formidable businesswoman who has built her reputation on a superb understanding of her concrete products, and an exceptional understanding of the challenges facing customers and their logistic frustrations. What makes her unique are the principles and values she applies to her business. One seldom sees her type of commitment to her customers, as she will personally stay on a customer’s site when there are logistics issues. She will stay into the dark hours to oversee that a particular order is executed perfectly. She demands respect for herself and her employees, looking after their needs before her own.
“Honesty, integrity, respect and self-belief have contributed to my success,” she claims. “I have been privileged to have had a number of superb mentors. All of them – people who are well known in this sector – who believed in my passion for the business, saw that I was prepared to learn and work hard. They treated me as a serious professional, and not merely a ‘woman’, and gave me the opportunity to grow my knowledge and experience.”
During the three decades Norma has been active in the concrete industry, she moved through the ranks at a pace seldom seen – moving from processing production orders, onto programming the truck logistics, into sales and ultimately became a key account representative to the blue-chip clients of her employer at the time. She was the youngest person and only woman in that company to be offered a production plant manager position.
She branched off and became one of the most renowned regional brokers in the ready-mix concrete industry. “However, my dream was to own my own business someday.”
In 2011 she took the plunge and with a great track record in hand and a lot of guts she approached aggregate supply companies, who were prepared to extend a line of credit from the beginning – highly unusual in this business.
“I run a ‘tight-ship’ with a highly hands-on style. My management team consists primarily of my daughter, who is responsible for all our logistics planning, my trusted accountant and cost controller, and my operations manager. But I also allow my team to make decisions based on their expertise – that’s how I learnt, so that’s how my team manages their portfolios. My drivers are well trained, love their trucks and look after them as their own, and I hold them responsible for quality driving style and keeping our running costs in check. They too share in the business responsibilities and contribute to our collective success – we are a real family-oriented and partnership-based business.”
“My relationship with FAW is based on similar expectations,” says Norma. “The FAW people are on call when I need them, they understand me and my business. I only buy FAW and only genuine parts, I expect the same loyalty from FAW when I need them and I get it. No issue is too small for FAW to come to my aid when I need it. This is what I want from a partner and what I get from FAW.”