An astute businessman by any measure; modest in nature but highly enterprising – this is Mahlaka Lukas Makuwa, owner and MD of Mafate Business Enterprises, primarily a mining supply company. They supply ready-mix concrete, premix concrete, shortcrete, sand, stones and plaster mix to mines and contractors in Sekhukhune district including Steelpoort, Burgersdorp, Jane Furse and Phalaborwa areas.
Lukas Makuwa started his successful career and businesses from an unlikely background. He first obtained a degree in IT at Tshwane University of Technology and went on to work a number of year’s fulltime as an IT technician at Eskom. His vision, however, was to develop his own community and this drove him to grab an opportunity to bid for and obtain the canteen contracts for Vantec Mine and later Tubatse Ferrochrome Mine. It was from here that he saw further opportunities working with the mines, first as a contractor to the mines in removing stones to crush and sell on to other businesses in the area; and later setting up the batch plant for ready-mix and aggregate supply to the Lion mining plant. More recently he started concentrating on also supplying asphalt to Lion Mine II.
Today Mafute Enterprises is the holding company for a number of other businesses including – a laundry and cleaning business, and a Supaquick tyre franchise. The holding company also owns 50% of ML Phadima Construction & Projects which loads and hauls chrome slag, does dust suppression, and grades roads at the Lion smelter belonging to Xstrata Alloys.
His newest ‘partner’ helping him achieve his overall vision is FAW trucks, which he took on to test in September 2014. Convinced that FAW were the trucks best suited to his operations and needs, he started purchasing various models into his fleet since then.
Today Lukas Makuwa runs nine FAW vehicles – four tipper of varying capacity and two mixers, one 6 cubic metres and the other 8 cubic metres capacity. He monitors his transport operations on a cost-per-hour basis and ensures wherever possible that they run at full capacity or capability.
The models in the Mafute fleet include three FAW 35.340FC 8 cube mixers, two FAW 33.330FC 6 cube mixers, two 35.340FD 15 cubic metres tippers, and one each of the FAW 33.340FD 18 cubic metres and 20 cubic metres tippers.
“I like the FAW trucks because they are strong, no-nonsense trucks. They are tough and work hard, like me,” Lukas laughs.
Lukas’s first big break came when he landed the first 3-year contract with a Glencore mine, with a specially structured deal – including ring-fencing and the surety of R4,8 million to buy capital equipment. His first work was to move ferrochrome with an articulated dump truck.
Careful planning and a very ‘hands-on’ approach ensured that he subsequently landed another 3-year contract, followed by a third for four years.
With the concrete batch plant in full swing, Lukas and his trustworthy employees continued the company’s stellar performance landing contracts which included supplying the Lion Mine’s building Phase II, a Maraisburg Mine project, the Burgersfort Shopping Mall and Magareng Mine projects.
Asked what makes him successful, Lukas says it’s all about keeping your finger on the pulse, “I work long hours overseeing all the enterprises, but I have reliable supervisors in place also. I routinely (everyday) check in with each business and if anything needs changing I rectify and correct the process.”
“Regarding new business, I have my ear to the ground and I don’t hesitate if I believe something presents a worthwhile opportunity to explore.”
“FAW trucks are reliable and I can trust them to do their job. That’s why I’ve planned to purchase anther five 10 cubic metre tippers for my asphalt operations,’ he says.
“My drivers keep log sheets which are monitored for efficiencies. As everyone knows concrete is a perishable material. I certainly do not like dumping a load because of timing which goes wrong.”
Loading the FAW to legal capacity and up to 35 tons on shorter stretches, Lukas commends the FAW trucks’ on their torque and power.
“Lastly, but very importantly, the support in service – on-site or wherever I need it – which I get from FAW Pretoria West and specifically Pieter Gerber, is unmatched. He’s a stalwart who is prepared to go the distance for me. That’s another reason I trust the FAW brand of trucks. Pieter and FAW work as hard as I do.”