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80 www. bus- ex. com July 09 Ramsay Engineering is a small company facing the challenge of keeping its culture intact as it grows the critical mass that will give it serious clout in the fast-changing automotive industry, not only in South Africa but internationally. Technical director Stuart Beaumont tells John O'Hanlon how it's done ahead Pressing

Ramsay Engineering T his is a tricky time for everyone in the automotive supply chain, so you would expect to hear a tale of woe from a general engineering firm that supplies OEMs at a time of falling global car sales. Well, Ramsay Engineering did see its revenue drop towards the end of last year. In November 2008 there were a few redundancies, and for a while the 350 staff members were asked to go on a three- day week, but the pain was mercifully short- lived. As from early April this year, the five- day workweek was resumed. The company has won significant new business and will be hiring new staff in 2010. Based in Pietermaritzburg, near Durban, South Africa, Ramsay Engineering is a family fi rm with a capital F, says technical director Stuart Beaumont. His father Nick Beaumont is chairman; the vice chairman, Malcolm Anderson, is his uncle; his cousin Angus Anderson is fi nance director. Among the other board members are long-serving Ramsay people who have worked their way up the management ladder. Even the managing director Andrew Turner, although not a direct relation, is " part of the family." This family culture has given the company the agility to succeed with a very comprehensive array of processes, from metal stamping and forming and injection moulding through to trim work and subassembly manufacture, for Toyota, General Motors, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Ford, Mitsubishi and Nissan, among other OEMs. Toyota, Ramsay's largest customer, recently expanded its plant at Durban to enable it to become a major exporter of vehicles like the new Hilux range. In fact, the recession actually strengthened Ramsay Engineering's relationship with Toyota. When a supplier of roof rails and running boards for the Hilux was unable to meet Toyota's delivery requirements, Ramsay was able to pick up this substantial business and supply good- quality production parts in three and a half weeks. " A project like that would normally take 18 months to get up and running," Beaumont says. " Everyone put in a tremendous effort. For the first two or three weeks we had people working literally right through the night to get the product out the door. Without any doubt we would not have managed the project had we not been able to cultivate this mindset throughout the business." The recession also led indirectly to another breakthrough. Making half shafts for Land Rovers was one of the company's earliest production jobs, but Ramsay hadn't supplied Land Rover for many years when in December July 09 www. bus- ex. com 81