A recent ceremony to recognise staff with long service at Efficient Engineering revealed that almost 20 employees had been with the business for more than 15 years. This reflects the depth of experience on the shop floor, says Tony Cimato, Chairman of Efficient Engineering. Some of the staff have been here as long as 27 years, Cimato added, which was a testament to both the company’s expertise base and to the way it values its people.
“We’re a good company to work for, with modern facilities that everyone is proud of,” he says. “We also invest constantly in our people, with an apprenticeship programme and a strong mentoring ethic. This all translates into well-trained artisans and quality workmanship for our customers.”
He notes that many of the company’s managers have come up through the ranks from junior positions, and there has even been a second generation of employees from the same family. An important part of what makes people loyal is this continuous development of skills, starting from apprenticeship stage.
Significantly, there are up to 20 apprentices in the facilities at any one time – mainly boilermakers and welders – all receiving practical training and expert guidance from the more experienced staff on the shop floor. While Efficient Engineering employs as many of these as they can after qualifying, this also provides a valuable stream of skills for the broader South African economy.
“The long service of our employees ensures us of a sound bedrock of expertise, as their learning and growth within the company always takes place within our strong quality environment,” he explains. “The quality control inspectors who ensure in process compliance to our ISO-accredited systems are the same people who used to make the products, so they don’t miss anything. Their careers at Efficient Engineering are not just about years – but about skills development, personal development and continuous quality improvement.”
In his global engagement with heavy engineering businesses in countries like German and the US, Cimato can compare the output of Efficient Engineering’s operations in South Africa – and it is world class. He highlights that the skills shortages affecting the artisan trades are in fact not peculiar to this country, but are experienced globally.
“We therefore take responsibility for our own skills, so every day there is skills transfer within our business,” emphasises Cimato. “This feeds into our succession planning within each department, and so employees can see a positive future and opportunities within the company.”
Mentoring plays a crucial role in strengthening the skills base, allowing the younger staff to learn from the very best. However, he points out that mentoring is not conducted only by the most experienced staff; wherever an employee can bring something new to the business, they are encouraged to share their know-how, and this gets passed on from colleague to colleague.
“We expect to see many more long-service employees in future as the company grows through its success – having experienced one of our best years ever last year,” he concludes. “Good staff can see when they are appreciated, and where they are on a winning team.”