Moloto strikes gold

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

Just seven years ago Desmond Moloto swept floors at an engineering company but today he owns one.

Moloto, 35, of Daveyton, is managing director of Fire and Emergency Vehicles, a company in Edenvale in Ekurhuleni.

He says he has the Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) to thank for his success.

Moloto has only nine months of mechanical engineering education and his company is a mere four years old but is worth R10million, including assets. It manufactures, services and repairs fire engine trucks.

The trucks are supplied to Eskom, municipalities, the South African National Ports and Rand Water.

Moloto's life took a turn in 2000 when he was left jobless after Harwil Engineering, a fire engine truck company that hired him, was closed down because it was running out of business.

"I had worked there for four years as a sweeper and we had been to the courts for years trying to get our money but without any success," said Moloto.

He said that he and six of his colleagues who were rendered unemployed started a small business of transporting materials such as pipes and heaters to companies.

"We used a VW Golf to transport the equipment as far as the Nkangala district municipality in Mpumalanga."

In 2004 they started supplying municipalities with flight suits, jaws of life and water trailers.

He and his five shareholders, Elvis Langa, Caiphus Ngidi, Freda Letsoko, Rudy Moloi and Johannes Khahleli, had a breakthrough last year.

"The UYF helped us with R465000 to win a contract to manufacture fire engine trucks for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in Eastern Cape," said Moloto.

UYF also financed Fire and Emergency Vehicles with R1,4 million to manufacture a disaster vehicle for Sedibeng district municipality.

This truck is the first of its kind in South Africa that is designed to be a communication centre during disasters. It is fitted with computers, CCTV cameras and other office equipment.

"My biggest challenge is winning the trust of customers because this is a white-dominated industry and I am new in the field and black."

Moloto is single, with five children, and is a hands-on man, which was illustrated by the blue overalls instead of a business suit when Sowetan visited him at his office.

His company employs 14 workers at the workshop and three administrative staff.

The UYF offers finance for contracts, business expansion, and start-up capital.