Passion and 40 years of know-how make SFG one of the preferred agents for the marine industry.
Formed 11 years ago as a dedicated personnel support company for the marine industry, SFG Engineering’s roots go back much further through its major shareholder, Duncan Macnab, well known for his passion and acumen throughout marine and industrial circles.
SFG’s business footprint occupies ports on Africa’s west coast and the Western Cape seaboard, where business operations are directed from the head office in Milnerton.
“Our business largely centres on providing specialised artisan labour for essential maintenance work, necessary to optimise a client’s oil and gas assets, mostly rigs and support equipment,” explained SFG’s HR manager Leon Putzier to CBN at a recent interview.
“When a rig, vessel or marine structure comes into port for essential maintenance, getting the work done to the highest level of quality in the shortest time is of paramount importance. Our clients entrust us with finding the right team of specialised skills to ensure the asset can be repaired or refurbished to the highest standards with the minimum of downtime,” explains Putzier.
Artisans and skilled personnel on the SFG database number more than 15,000 and include all trades such as welders, boilermakers, electricians, engineers, medics, administrators, planners and riggers, amongst many more specialised trades demanded by the marine industry.
Although based in Cape Town, the company have increased its footprint in the port of Saldanha, where developments include the expansion of iron ore export capacity and the forthcoming IDZ (Industrial Development Zone) have created demand for these specialist services. Even land-based developments, such as energy sector growth in renewables - wind farms - have created a strong demand for specialised artisan skills, which SFG now supply.
“Our West Africa business is largely based in the Congo, Pointe Noire, where extensive exploration of off-shore oil and gas deposits is taking place” continues Putzier. This led to us opening an office-SFG Congo which manages those operations.
“South Africa isn’t the only country where indigenisation is a priority – the Congolese government also prioritises the employment of Congolese, and our satellite office there recently placed more than 60 local artisans as well as 25 South African personnel for a client active in the region.”
Loyalty from all working contractors
“The procedure of securing skilled personnel, obtaining visas and work permits, checking their credentials, ensuring competency and certification is all part of the placement function, which is essential if we are to have a satisfied client. And it’s not just the client who calls the shots – our 15,000 strong contractor database wouldn’t still be with us if we only paid lip service to conditions of employment. By ensuring that our contractors are fairly and properly treated and work in safe and regulated conditions, the company has created a loyalty amongst this labour force who are seldom swayed to competitors by a couple of extra rand in their pockets,” confides Putzier.
Whilst in the business of supplying contracted labour, SFG maintain its own team of site agents that witness and monitor personnel performance and working conditions within a traditionally tough working environment. “Our site agents ensure that neither the client nor the artisan is exploited and that a cordial and productive work environment is maintained.”
In addition to its own professionals and contracted trades people, SFG supply ‘Rider squads’ – a small team of experts who undertake maintenance audits whilst an asset is on-route from a workplace to a port of repair. This information can include material and supply inventories, as well as labour requirements, and is transmitted during the voyage to ensure that all is ready when the vessel arrives at its repair destination and work can start immediately.
“SFG Engineering is always looking ahead and, whilst it follows the off-shore oil and gas business, it is not reactionary – being there when needed is the name of the game. We have embraced the country’s need to develop its own people and are proud holders of a Level 4 BBBEE certificate. We are currently exploring the issues of gender equality in our industry, a very male-dominated environment, as well as how people with disabilities can be integrated into the hustle and bustle of servicing the marine oil & gas business,” he concludes.