Exciting Empowerment deal for Scheltema

Leading specialist subcontractors since 1931

Embracing diversity is one of the cornerstones of the Scheltema brand. In fact, long before employment equity was introduced to the statute books and compliance made mandatory, Scheltema had already started to transform itself internally by recognizing and authentically empowering its black employees.

Stephen Arrow is one such employee. Stephen grew up in Athlone in Cape Town, where he matriculated from the Christian Brother’s School in 1972. He yearned to be a teacher, but poverty, circumstance, and job reservation first drove him into the textile business, and then into the construction field. At SBH Cotton Mills and later at Porter’s Cape Construction, Stephen showed great potential and an uncompromising work ethic, but it was to be his fortuitous meeting with Barry van Breda, then CEO of Scheltema, in 1976, that was to change his life forever.

Stephen started out as an administrative clerk at Scheltema in 1977, and moved quickly through the ranks – first to the position of supervisor in 1980, and then to that of divisional director in 1986. That a person of colour was placed in a position of power represented a radical departure from the norm given the political context at the time, bearing testimony to the fearless spirit of Scheltema and the willingness of its directors to break the mould.

During his tenure as director at Scheltema, Stephen was also offered an opportunity to join the Master Builder’s Association in 2004, and became President of the Western Cape chapter in 2007 and 2008.

Stephen retained his directorship of the ceilings division at Scheltema till 2008, when he decided to open his own company and commence negotiations with Scheltema towards the procurement of a significant stake in the company. And in fitting culmination to a life-long relationship based on mutual trust and respect, Stephen Arrow Contracting (Pty) Ltd. was awarded a 26% shareholding in Scheltema in March 2009.

“We are delighted with the deal that we have struck with Stephen Arrow Contracting” said Michael van Breda, CEO of Scheltema. “A powerful relationship of trust has developed over the years and we are certain that Stephen’s experience and presence in the marketplace will continue to add tremendous value to our organization. The realization of a level 3 rating that is in our sights is merely a reflection of a long term commitment to leadership and diversity”.

Scheltema embraces transformation on all levels

There can be no doubt that Scheltema’s active inculcation of the spirit of BBBEE was evident long before the emergence of our new democracy. In the eighties and nineties, for example, two of the company’s four operating divisions were headed up by ‘black’ individuals who were company directors at the time.

According to CEO Michael van Breda, profits have been distributed widely amongst employees for decades. “We have a profit share scheme that commits to the distribution of 20% of the companies pre-tax profits which has forged a strong sense of shared ownership and reward, and created a highly aspirant and dynamic company culture”.

Approximately half of Scheltema’s production is undertaken by labour-only sub-contractors. Another factor relating to procurement spend is that our expenditure on materials from BBBEE compliant suppliers is significant and on the increase. Both of these factors contribute positively to a good score with respect to preferential procurement on the BBBEE scorecard.

“We provide aid to sub-contractors in a number of diverse areas. We part fund an accountant who assists with tax returns, WCA and BIBC compliance. We provide interest free loans with respect to vehicle and tool purchases as well as up-front WCA payments. Furthermore we provide comprehensive Health and Safety training to all sub-contractors” said van Breda.

Scheltema recognizes that skills development is a vital ingredient to leadership within their field. As such they have formalized a programme that addresses up-skilling, mentorship and succession-planning. Modules aimed at salaried staff range from self growth modules like the “I care – I can” programme to “Contractual Administration” which delves into many legal aspects of contracting. Our envisaged “Learning Centre” will ensure the ongoing training of our labour force in areas such as Health and Safety, Life Skills, Numeracy and Literacy, Construction Technology and “The Scheltema Way” – an induction programme developed by the company.

In terms of corporate social investment, Scheltema lends its support to a number of charities and non-profit organizations. Since January this year, they have made sizeable donations to fun child support and hospital equipment, but their biggest contributions have been to the Zip Zap Circus School and Go for Gold, both of which focus on the empowerment and upliftment of disadvantaged teenagers in the Western Cape.

“Equipping a group of volunteer cyclists with bicycles for the Argus cycle tour was possibly our most enjoyable CSI project to date. The “rookie” volunteers trained alongside the experienced riders, and all bar two completed what was arguably the toughest Argus Cycle Tour ever” said van Breda.

“We find ourselves making donations on a regular basis, since there are so many causes that we simply cannot ignore. The most satisfying of these initiatives has to do with helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we hope that our commercial successes will increasingly enable us give back in this way” concluded van Breda.