The sun is shining on Duvha Foundry

Emphasis on hard work, perseverance and taking advantage of opportunities is the key to success.

“Starting your own business is not easy especially when you need to seek finance to fund capital equipment and working capital to get the business operational. The biggest problem is that most of the banks don’t understand what manufacturing in the metal environment is all about and even less so in the foundry industry. Their interest wanes even more if you don’t have a track record and assets to back-up your business plan. Owning a house in the township wasn’t going to give me much collateral to back up my ambition to start my own foundry and be my own boss,” explained Stanley Tshivhase, director and owner of Duvha Foundry.

Stanley Tshivhase, director and owner of Duvha Foundry

“Almost everywhere I turned I met strong financial resistance. When seeking advice from the South African Institute of Foundrymen I was advised not to do it as the timing was wrong, and that I shouldn’t even think of starting a new foundry without at least R5 million. The SAIF then referred me to the IDC, who couldn’t help and in turn they referred me to the dti who were happy to meet with me, but also couldn’t help me financially.”

“So it wasn’t exactly a smooth start. After being rejected by a number of banks or being offered a sum way below what I needed according to my business plan, fortunately one bank was prepared to listen to me even though they had to ask me: ‘What is a foundry?’ However, after a number of meetings they were prepared to buy into my vision and what I wanted to achieve and loaned me less than half of what I believed I needed.”

“At about the same time I met Richard Child from Conbrako, who understood my vision and was prepared to give me my first order if I got up and running. This commitment from Richard did help in me securing funding and I am very grateful to him and Conbrako.”

Duvha Foundry has two bays where it casts. This is a view of the light bay where the smaller size castings are cast

“They were looking for a South African foundry to cast draw gear components that they were already having made in China. Competing on price was difficult, but where Duvha Foundry could deliver was on vastly improved lead times and quality. Once we were up and running they compared our castings to the ones that they were importing from China and they were very impressed. So they started placing orders. They were our first customer, and they are still our customer today.”

“However, today if I look at how much funding money the IDC has reportedly approved for entities which you are hard pressed to find any information on, it astounds me. They purportedly finance and facilitate projects that are high-impact and labour intensive. Additionally, the IDC says it supports B-BBEE and is actively involved in boosting and promoting black-owned and managed business. I would have thought I would have qualified using this criteria but they were not interested.”

“It seems to me that you have to be well connected, attend their meetings, lunches and parties before you qualify. I was not raised in this manor. My parents were fruit sellers in the Venda province and they taught me to be hard working, show respect and be humble, like I have done with my children.”

“After leaving school my ambition was set on having a career in mining. I was advised by the Technikon Witwatersrand (University of Johannesburg) that I was not suited and after taking an aptitude test they steered me towards studying physical metallurgy rather than extractive metallurgy.”

The fettling department at Duvha Foundry

Castings range in weight from 2.5kg to 1 500kg net weight

“I spent a few years studying at UJ before moving to The Vaal University of Technology (Vaal Triangle Technikon). My first commercial position was at Iscor, previously known as Union Steel Corporation and now known as ArcelorMittal, in Vereeniging as a trainee metallurgist. My position involved testing products for quality and performance, heat treatment, melting and advising on how processes might be improved for more desirable yields. This gave me a very good practical beginning to my career in the foundry industry.”

“After a few years there I moved on to work for Boart Longyear, Independent Foundry and B&K Foundry before venturing out on my own. Besides having the hard work ethic I also had an entrepreneurial spirit in me.”

Duvha Foundry
“The company had small beginnings. We initially rented a building in the Chamdor Industrial area and occupied 800m² with a few staff, six to be exact. I had great support from Solid State Induction Furnaces who sourced a second hand furnace for me and IMP Scientific, who supplied me with my first Bruker spectrometer. Being a very loyal person both of these companies have had good support from me subsequently, as we have grown, moved to a bigger factory and purchased more equipment.”

Stainless steel makes up about 10% of the metals cast at Duvha Foundry

A view of the heavy bay at Duvha Foundry

“It has always been my philosophy to reinvest the profits back into the business and this was rewarded when we purchased our current factory in 2014. We now occupy 5 200m² and from initially only casting 30 to 40 tons net of castings a month we are now up to 120 tons net.”

“When we moved we were able to organise our space so that we have two bays, one being the heavy bay and the other the light bay. Although 60% of our castings emanate from the heavy bay the amount of castings produced in the light bay far exceeds the heavy bay.”

“The mix of materials that we cast is made up of 40% SG, 40% the steels, 10% stainless steel and the rest cast iron, high chrome and manganese. Our staff compliment has also grown exponentially up to 60, as has our foundry and process equipment.”

“Castings range in weight from 2.5kg to 1 500kg net weight depending on the casting yield and method requirements. Our castings can be found in the pump and valve industries, rail, mining, power, smelting, heat treatment, cement, pulp and paper, chemical and petrochemical industries, as well as general engineering machine shops.”

“Some of the castings we have manufactured include casings, stuffing boxes, bogie casings, cones, boxes, augurs and many different components for valves and pumps.”

“When we moved in 2014 we had these big wide open spaces begging to be filled with equipment and castings. Besides it was not economical to leave this space unoccupied.”

“From one 500 kilogram 300kW furnace we now have two two and a half ton 600kW furnaces in the heavy bay and added to the light bay was a 600 kilogram 300kW furnace, and earlier this year a 150 kilogram 75kW furnace. On order is a one ton 350kW furnace that is due to be installed in the next couple of months once the civils have been completed.”

Duvha Foundry have recently installed an Endeco Omega shakeout system

A pour taking place in the light bay

“Having these six different size furnaces, all controlled on different power packs, gives us plenty of flexibility in our melting department.”

“We have also added a Bruker Q4 Spectrometer, a fully automated 5-ton an hour sand plant with a continuous mixer, a Brinnell hardness tester, a shotblasting plant, a sand blasting unit, an industrial compressor with air dryer, three 5-ton overhead cranes and two 10-ton overhead cranes, a top hat heat treatment plant and all the other necessary foundry processes such as fettling.”

“Earlier this year we installed an Endeco Omega shakeout system and there will be future developments on the sand reclamation plant side later this year. There are also other developments that are happening later this year as well.”

The company is ISO9001:2008 TUV Rheinland accredited and is looking at other quality accreditation options.

Finding people with the right experience has been difficult, but Tshivhase considers staff development part of his responsibility as an employer.

“This is an industrial area where we are operating from, so you always find guys around this area looking for work. None of them will have foundry experience, but if they have at least matric, we might take some of them in and train them on different foundry activities like moulding, painting, closing, melting, fettling and heat treatment. On the quality assurance side we only employ staff with the relevant qualifications.”

Duvha Foundry is working towards achieving SANAS accreditation

Duvha Foundry uses a Bruker Q4 Tasman spectrometer

“The training that we afford our staff isn’t limited to being taught how to operate equipment and other inhouse training. We ensure that they attend the courses and obtain the relevant qualifications and certifications that are offered through Sassda and the SAIF and the relevant university institutions. My guys are very proud of the skills they’ve obtained. You take someone who has just matriculated, who didn’t know how to do moulding, who didn’t know how to melt, or cut a casting, and you train them. And now they have the confidence, knowledge and drive. You can see it in their eyes, they become assertive and proud.”

“We have worked hard to get this far in such a relatively short time. We have had some luck along the way but it has come from our perseverance and taking advantage of opportunities. We have won orders and got onto the government procurement programmes because of our Level 1 BB-BEE status but this is about to change because we are going to be classified Level 8 in future. This is because the emphasis is now on our suppliers being judged and they have to attain the required level, which most of them are not able to do so.”

In the Venda dialect Duvha means the sun that rises and shines. This certainly has been the case for Stanley Tshivhase and his company.

For further details contact Duvha Foundry on TEL: 011 762 1557 or visit