Donkin Fans foundry saved from closure

When Donkin Fans, a company within the Howden Group, based in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, decided to close its foundry division at its Struandale plant, Waeez Jacobs jumped at the opportunity to run his own business and acquire the assets, IP and goodwill of the foundry.

“I had been with the company for five years and progressed from my original position of Quality Supervisor to Factory Manager in the foundry so I had intimate knowledge of how the foundry operated. Coupled with my nine years of experience gained while working in the foundry at Autocast in Port Elizabeth I was fairly confident that I could take control and run the business myself,” said Jacobs.

“The company had been experiencing mixed fortunes in the standard fan business with some loss of market share in the HVAC market due to unsustainable competitor pricing, but holding market share in other markets served. The company trades in the HVAC and light industrial/process markets where competition is extremely varied and keen.”

Donkin Fans specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of standard and pre-engineered fans, blowers and accessories. Donkin Fans manufactures several different ranges of standard products. Its axial fan is produced in 12 different sizes, ranging from 315mm to 2 250mm in diameter.

“The foundry has been in existence since 1994 and has only cast components for the company’s own consumption, never seeking outside work. Although my main client currently is Donkin Fans, once we are settled and running smoothly as an aluminium gravity casting foundry, we will be seeking other work.”

“At the moment we are concentrating on producing the blades for the industrial fans and are casting in LM6. The industrial business covers heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), which refers to the different systems used for moving air between indoor and outdoor areas, along with heating and cooling both residential and commercial buildings. Easily recognisable product includes smoke vent fans, cased axial fans for large volume ventilation applications and roof extraction units.”

“Depending on use they come in various sizes and pressures.”

“We have acquired all the foundry, metallurgy and quality equipment and related accessories from Donkin and moved to our own factory in Pax Road, Korsten. This includes the patterns, IP and spectrometer.”

“At the moment we only have a two ton furnace to do our melting but as we get organised we will acquire more assets. We only started operating four months ago in July so it is very early days.”

“I have also employed 20 staff and most of them are ex Donkin staff so we have some continuity in using staff that are already experienced in the foundry operation.”

“As a backup I can call on my father’s experience and advice. He is now retired but he spent 35 years working at Autocast in the foundry division.”

“Besides casting the aluminium impellers we are also assembling the fans and units.”

For further details contact Waeez Jacobs on 082 940 9078 or email