SLG (PTY) LTD
Spring Lights Gas (Pty) Ltd, (SLG) a 100% black owned and run company, commenced its trading in piped methane-rich gas (MRG) in KwaZulu-Natal on 1st July 2002. The inception of SLG developed from a longstanding partnership between CEPR (A Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment enterprise) and Sasol Gas Holdings (Pty) Ltd (A wholly owned subsidiary of Sasol Ltd).
“The vision of SLG was multi-faceted. A primary goal was to bring historically disadvantaged individuals into the mainstream economy so that they could participative meaningfully in transforming the energy sector, which was pivotal at the time,” explains Mthoko Mbatha, SLG Group Chief Executive Officer.
The initial focus of the company, was not however confined to black economic empowerment but also emphasised the need to participate in the transformation process of creating a cleaner environment for all communities. In addition, the managing team of SLG was required to aspire to grow the business from the then focus the Durban South Basin to acquire customers beyond KwaZulu-Natal.
Another major goal of the business was to develop strategic partnerships. “These would forward integrate themselves into the customer’s business and unlock meaningful value that would translate into the bottom line of the respective customers,” says Mbatha. “SLG is a demonstration of real empowerment in the sense of the word,” reflected Mzi Tyhokolo, Business Development Manager.
Mthoko Mbatha has had a fifteen history of employment at SLG and has demonstrated the drive for innovation and growth in his professional career. He started as energy advisor at SLG a position he held for seven years from 2004 to 2011, and was then appointed the sales manager at SLG from April 2011 for almost seven years, until his appointment of CEO in February 2018. Mthoko’s leadership role is based on the value that places in people to deliver results. This approach in line with the three pillars of SLG which are: Excellence, People, and Delivery.
SLG prides itself on creating an environment where people can thrive and show their capabilities and add value to the business. Consequently, the business has grown from having a small staff complement of two people in a small office, to now having 12 professionals. As a company, SLG aspires to develop leaders and allows for organic growth of its employees within the business. People get rewarded for injecting their talent into SLG through upward mobility. As such, many of the employees have grown with the business and have had a long service history. This employment history has enabled SLG to have a soundtrack record of industrial knowledge.
“Our employees are inspired by the business,” says Predashnee Govindsamy, Business Retention Manager. “We stay because we believe in the brand.” SLG has the right people doing the work to continue establishing the brand. SLG has invested heavily in training its people to enhance capability. “We’ve taken a stance that employees who interact with customers must have as much knowledge as possible, especially in compression engineering.” SLG is an innovative brand that wishes to deliver value to its customers.
Customer centricity is the cornerstone of the business. “We take time to understand what makes our customers tick,” says Mbatha. “We have had a long-standing relationship with many of our customers which includes some well-known brand names, which has given us the competitive edge in the market. By developing an understanding of the customer, we differentiate ourselves in the market.”
“It’s important that we have the agility to adapt to the customers’ needs and to become a leader in the clean energy space,” says Tyhokolo.
From humble beginnings SLG has been fortunate to have grown in leaps and bounds. SLG is now the second largest player in the gas industry in South Africa and has built brand equity. The company was ceded 10 customers from Sasol when it started operating, this number has grown to 50 blue chip companies in KwaZulu-Natal. The business has also expanded its footprint to cover the Orange Free State and Gauteng province.
In addition, in 2015 SLG established SLCNG, a new entity, to compress and transport natural gas to industries situated far from the gas pipeline network. SLCNG has since become the largest supplier of compressed natural gas in South Africa. “We have been at the forefront, leading the manufacturing industry to grow a gas economy in the greater Durban area and we are now transcending the KZN market,” says Mbatha.
“Many of the customers have changed from using coal, oil, illuminating paraffin and heavy energy sources to a cleaner and efficient energy source,” explains Govindsamy. “In order to make the conversion process work for our customers, we have had to bring in a massive amount of technical expertise and capital. We are not just a gas supplier but a partner, which sets us apart from energy companies.” SLG provides peace of mind solutions to customers so can concentrate on their products and SLG focuses on energy supply. By offering a suite of value-added services following the conversion, SLG assists its customers embrace the conversion beyond the sale of gas. In addition, the company’s commitment to developing communities in which it operates is enshrined in its values work ethos. SLG takes great care to ensure that its ‘People First” ethos is always met in its social investment efforts.
SLG is aware of the need to continue to grow. Although economic environment has been one of slow growth, has been able to develop and respond to market needs. Currently 90% of SLG’s customers are in the manufacturing sector. “We have stretched ourselves as a business so that interactions are multi-layered. We interact with businesses, understanding their needs which then enables us to provide solutions to their existing challenges.”