Portland Cement

Portland Holdings holds its FAW truck fleet to the same business promise – Strong and Honest

Nico Heyns, Managing Director of Portland Holdings, owner of Portland Readymix, is a businessman who has strong convictions about the right way to do business – without compromising on solid beliefs and ideals.

While the business today primarily focuses on the construction industry, since starting its ready mix division in 2002 and the Portland Hollowcore® division in 2007, Nico and his partner have charted the group over 26 years and remained true to following only tried and tested business principles, which are fair and honest. It is apparent that Heyns’ word is his bond, and that he expects the same from others, including his vehicle supplier – FAW Trucks South Africa.

“I bought my first six 28.380FT’s with flat decks as a trial to test the company and its product. I had to see first-hand the good reports I had heard on their durability, reliability and overall cost efficiencies. We tested costs through fuel consumption, parts and maintenance costs, warranty promise and, of course, FAW’s service back up, to provide us with premium uptime.  I was not disappointed and that’s why all my fleet is now converted to only the FAW brand,” says Heyns.

From humble beginnings 26 years ago, Nico Heyns continues to believe in making a fair profit, of always treating employees and customers with utmost respect and paying great care to the environment.

Through tough times, downturns and recessions, Heyns and his partner have navigated a well-planned and cautious course, with the result that they managed a consistently successful business which always stayed viable and profitable.  This does not mean they didn’t pursue new directions when they were presented with interesting opportunities, and the potential for expansion and growth.  On the contrary the group even ventured into listing on the JSE.  This did not provide the results planned, so the original shareholders repurchased all the shares and delisted.

As a major supplier of readymix concrete, to building sites across the entire Cape Peninsula, Portland Readymix is one of the most reputable suppliers to the regional construction industry. Portland is well known for its impeccable fleet of FAW 33.330 FC 6m3 mixer trucks, which are always clean, and in pristine condition driving on the provincial roads, operated by considerate and well-trained drivers. The main game-changer in Portland’s reputation is its focus on ultimate customer satisfaction with on-time delivery at all times and exceptionally good concrete products.

As the company also produces and supplies precast concrete products, like hollow core decking slabs for the larger projects, it runs a number of robust and durable FAW 28.380 FT 6×4 truck tractors with flat deck trailers. These vehicles are more than adequately equipped to run up and down the Cape Peninsula with payloads of up to 28 tons, and GCM of about 63 tons.

“At Portland we deliver concrete products across the entire peninsular region and the Western Cape, sometimes even into the Northern Cape, as far as Upington. We regularly run up to Yzerfontein and Langebaan.  Our fleet travels to large construction sites for commercial projects, shopping malls and office blocks, as well as to residential properties and low-cost housing projects. Urban runs are done as per client demands but costs are always tighter to control because the ‘per cube on-road’ time is relatively long and we have quite a bit of idling time on tighter sites. Larger projects far up the West Coast we regard as a bonus because of the good operational economies we get from free flow traffic and good travel times,” explains Heyns.

“Currently we are working on contract on the initiative for building the Curro schools, with our prime site at present in Brackenfell. This is rewarding also because we are part of a greater plan to uplift and advance communities and help future entrepreneurs – some of whom we hope a few go into construction too,” laughs Heyns.

“While most of our ready mix vehicle runs are not over very long-distances, the terrain in the Cape from our quarry in Durbanville, is very hilly which are demanding on the vehicles with steep and long inclines.  We chose to remain with manual transmission as these suited the drivers best, all of who are well trained by FAW themselves.

“The vehicles are easy-to-drive and comfortable, and they provide the power, the payload and the speed needed to give us the turnaround times per vehicle our business needs.”

Portland Holdings follow a replacement policy of three years, selling off fair condition trucks into the used truck market for a decent return on the original purchase price.

Choosing not to load over 5,5 m3, the optimal operation per mixer truck is four trips a day.  This presents Portland with the best return on investment and optimised logistics for both the fleet and the quarry production.

Originally the quarry was used under licence by Portland, but as matters turned out it was in their best interest to purchase the Durbanville quarry outright.  This they did in 2000. According to assayers there are another good 60 years’ production capacity from the quarry as it sits nestled on the 64-hectare grassland hillside property.

As part of their obligation to the environment Portland Holdings regularly rehabilitate the worked-out areas and pay special attention to re-establishing the vital flora to restore the surrounding area.

Heyns believes in the rewards gained from honest, hard work and expects the same from his business partners. “FAW has provided me with a good product which has increased in quality over the last few years. They give me the best after sales service I’ve ever had and they are literally ‘on call’ when I need them.  All my service on the FAW fleet is done at the FAW service depot so that I can concentrate on my core business – keeping my customers happy, getting my fleet out on the road on time and keeping the three divisions operating at optimal level.”

“FAW gives me good total cost of ownership, with affordable and strong quality product, backed by good people and great service.

“I’m certainly looking forward to the Coega plant coming on stream with local product built to international quality standards, while simultaneously befitting our harsh and tough local conditions,” quips Heyns.

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