Winhold invests in a Greenfield project
“We have developed a South African muti that works well”
JSE-LISTED INVESTMENT GROUP Winhold has invested R10m in an initiative to build various configurations of plastic pallets, crates and anything that needs packaging out of recycled polyethylene terephthalate polymer, the well-known PET soft drink bottles.
Winhold employees and would-be entrepreneurs Lorita Diem and Johan Visser developed the initiative 18 months ago. The two entrepreneurs formed a company known as Novara Profile Extrusions.
Raising capital for the PET business, however, proved to be a difficult challenge. They approached various institutions to finance the project and there were alternative interested funders but the pair were overwhelmed when their employer, the Winhold group, decided to back the project. “Johan and I knew that with Winhold’s support and experience, Novara could grow from strength to strength,” says Diem.
Luckily, after being convinced about the idea, Winhold was prepared to risk its capital in the business. The company acquired a 50,1% stake in Novara through the injection of R10m cash to facilitate the acquisition of technology and set up the business. Diem and Visser own the remaining stake.
The two entrepreneurs decided to go to Italy to seek assistance and were rewarded as the Italians helped them to develop and test the products. There was no cash injection from the Italians; and they managed to get sponsorship for the trip.
Novara’s plant in Krugersdorp now has a high-tech line imported from Italy.
Diem acknowledges that developing the plastic pallets and crates has not been easy. Like any new product it takes a lot of time to be accepted by major customers. They want to test the products. “It took a hell of a long time to develop and test the products in Italy.”
The PET pallets will be able to assist wood packaging materials companies, which are faced with demanding global legislation to find substitutes of wooden pallets. PET pallets can be utilised by companies involved in transporting food, beverages and fresh food, cargo, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The pallets are 100% recyclable.
and Johan Visser