Health and safety is a passion for Bonani Baloyi. When he started Mapulangi Engineering Services, which trades as MPE Fire Services, his main priority was to serve and protect. His business has overcome obstacles on its way to becoming one of the most trusted emergency services facilitating companies in cases involving fire prevention and outbreaks. Here is how he built one of the most progressive fire services companies.
Certain work environments are prone to occupational accidents. Companies that undertake hazardous operations in order produce certain outputs are mandated to take top tier precautions in order to protect their employees. Spaces such as kitchens (for restaurants), petrol stations and construction sites are at risk of accidental fire outbreaks, and businesses like MPE Fire Services are designed to help facilitate precautionary and intervention measures. Born in Limpopo, Baloyi opened shop in 2014 after noticing that there were few black owned companies in fire services. A qualified engineer and an experienced HR Manager with over 15 years in the private sector, Baloyi braved through the pain of not having enough capital to sustain the business through financially demanding projects when he launched MPE Fire Services.
Xhead: Difficult beginnings
“Our company specialises in the supply, installation and service of fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, fire hydrants, fire signage, early fire detection, health and safety training and first aid equipment,” he says. The company services businesses mainly in construction, property management, as well as schools and households. “The response has been good, however, there is room for improvement as this is a volume business, the more customers you get, the better it is to operate and keep the business running,” he adds. Baloyi recalls when his company was awarded a big contract during its early days, the challenge began when he had to raise capital to fully service the contract. He had no option but to source capital from funding organisations and he had to repay it using the proceeds from the contract. “Our first big contract was in the fire space, due to lack of licensing at the time, we had to outsource to licensed fire companies. And this was not cost effective, that encounter pushed us to secure our own licensing with SABS and SAQCC,” he says. In order to sustain the various financially demanding stages of running the company, Baloyi landed a big ticket deal with state-owned entity Eskom, where the company was contracted to service a fire equipment maintenance agreement at the Kusile Power Station for three years.
Xhead: Ambitious projections
“Our industry is diverse, all structural buildings are required to have fire prevention systems in place to preserve them. We give close proximity customer service to our clients. Customers buy from people they like hence we believe in building strong trust relationships with our customer base.” The prospects are promising for MPE Fire Services. The company aims to scale its work force as the demand for its services is on an upward trend. It currently operates in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the head office is in Gauteng. Baloyi intends to scale MPE Fire Services operations to a reach a R5 Million turnover target within the next 12 months and ultimately double it in 24 months. The endorsement that MPE Fire Services received from the SABS has attracted more opportunities for the company. “We have successfully conceptualised, designed and built fire solutions for Greens Park Clinic with ISF in a landmark project for the company. We have also installed fire solutions for a student residence at the University of Johannesburg in Ellis Park in a partnership project with Bartlett,” says Baloyi. While Baloyi’s focus is currently on scaling, he is also looking at taking the branding of his offerings to the next level. “We are looking at getting into manufacturing our own MPE Fire Services branded extinguishers, hose reels and hydrants that we can offer to the market and not resell already established brands,” says Baloyi.