Plastic & Chemical Trading’s technical team is at the heart of the company’s customer service philosophy. With a collaborative approach to problem solving the team is committed to going above and beyond to deliver on its promises to customers. Matthew Cockram, technical director, and Khaya Sibis, technical coordinator, are dedicated to leading the team to achieve these goals but from two different ends of the spectrum.

Q: What is currently your greatest challenge at work?

M: The lack of stability in the financial market is hurting the industrial side of the country and trying to persuade people to buy in this economic climate is my greatest challenge. So if for example, we were at R20 to the Euro and this figure was consistent over time people would invest regardless of the fact that it’s that high however the constant fluctuations make people nervous and its quite challenging to work like that.

K: I think the challenges at the moment for me is the fact that our customers don’t see the value in preventative maintenance. We view ourselves as a service and a solution company and in most cases we want to support our customers which means servicing the machines we’ve sold, however it’s very difficult to get our customers to buy into our philosophy that if we service your machines they will last longer. We can come in do a service and see for example that you have a valve that is not responding, if we catch it early enough we can change it before it fails, because if it fails you will lose production time which is not favourable.

Q:  What is your biggest achievement?

M & K: Our biggest achievement was when we set up a plant for a customer and we put one of our own guys in there to run it. The youngster who we employed to run that factory had zero injection moulding experience, all he had was a matric and the training we provided and he was running the entre process on his own. I think that is how we can really add value to the customer by helping them put together a plant without a lot of overheads and as Plastic & Chemical Trading we can help you run the plant while we’re sitting in Johannesburg with only one guy and that’s it. From that experience the one thing that sits with us is the importance of developing people.

The company actually bought him off us because they wanted him to run that facility and from that he’s gone into another factory working for another company running eight machines full production his own.

Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in this industry?

M: Be open to all the new ideas, because there are so many. It’s such a diverse field, its where do you want to go with it how do you want to do it. Were open to how new ideas work.

K: You need to be open and willing to learn all the time.  For instance, I’ve been with the company for 11 years I could say in my own way I know everything so nobody can tell me anything and that’s very dangerous, so you need to be willing to learn everyday regardless of where you learn from.

Q: How do you want to be remembered?

M: As an innovator.

K: From a customer perspective I would like us to be remembered as a company that was always willing to go on the journey with them. We may not always get everything right but we are prepared to go the distance. We’re willing.