WOZANI BERG GASOLINE
Wozani Berg Gasoline is a diversified logistics group providing transport, fuel storage, distribution and supply chain services in South Africa, Eswatini (Swaziland), Maputo, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi. The company has access to all grades of fuels and lubricants throughout South Africa via the major fuel supply chain.
James and Michelle Gregory’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1996 when they founded Berg Gasoline to deliver fuel for Engen across the KwaZulu-Natal region. The small sales and distributor operation was located in Creighton with one clerk, two drivers, and a few operational staff manning one depot.
In 2002, in order to grow the volume and the footprint of Berg Gasoline, the company relocated to the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal.
In 2004, an empowerment deal with Wozani Holdings was finalised. Berg Gasoline sold its assets and liabilities, which resulted in the start of Wozani Berg Gasoline (WBG). In 2011, the balance of James and Michelle Gregory’s shares in WBG were sold to a black empowerment company. However, in 2013 they were informed that Wozani was trouble and that a “volcano” had erupted at the business. This disheartening news saw them taking back management of the company.
In 2018, an equity transaction resulted in Mithun Harilall (Financial Director) and Mohamed Yusuf (Treasury Director) each acquiring 10% of WBG.
James Gregory’s ongoing commitment to WBG is apparent in his drive to ensure that the future of the company is sustainable.
Mithun says, “The business did not just grow, it grew on back of James Gregory, our rainmaker and entrepreneur. James pulled the business through some very dark days.” James heads the management committee, which has hands-on management approach for policy making, setting goals and ensuring all divisions work towards achieving WBG’s vision.
The strong management committee is also prepared to learn from each other’s knowledge and experience. Consequently, the company is built on relationships, trust and on never giving up. And, says Michelle, on a passion for the business which keeps everyone engaged in what they are doing every day.
“Our main aim going forward is that we want to create a sustainable business, that will be James and my legacy going into the future. We have to be able to pull ourselves out and say that this machine can work on its own. We want to let the people below us do the work and we work on the business and not in the business,” added Michelle.
James explains “We start every conversation with business continuity planning in mind. Saying how will this affect the business? How will it affect our continuity plan? Will it make us stronger? Will it make us weaker? Is there a challenge?”
WBG attributes much its current success to its people and values all its employees’ input. Mohamed added, “James sets the bar really high and we try to pass this on to the team.”
As WBG is a people focused company, incentivised remuneration motivates WGB’s employees to continue delivering positive results. The nature of the business requires a commitment to safety by all staff. The company continuously strives in the pursuit of Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) management and to this end, WBG has been accredited according to international SHE standards.
James says, “We don’t like short term relationships. Everything we do with suppliers, customers and staff is about long-term relationships.” WBG prides itself on the relationships that have been built with customers and sees these as partnerships. The goal of the company is to develop an understanding of their customers’ needs so that they may add value.
Mithun Harilall says, “We certainly are customers focused. Building our clients businesses builds our business. It is what makes our business stronger, bigger and more secure. We are a little bit more than just the best price” Consequently, the reputation that WBG has built in the marketplace is apparent in the word of mouth references that it receives from many of its existing customers.
WBG prides itself on its resilience and evolution as much of the company’s success has been built on “the ability to adapt to a fluid environment”.
Mohamed explains, “If you don’t have the ability to adapt on a daily basis, even an hourly basis and to think ahead to what is going to happen, you are not going to survive.”
As WGB does not have typical 8 to 4.30 working hours, flexibility comes naturally to the company. In addition, with volatility comes opportunity and WGB able to respond appropriately. “When there is chaos, are able to run in front with the flag,” commented James.
Some of WBG’s current successes include its service agreement with Engen where WBG has dedicated loading bays and the ACB facility where on line orders can cleared immediately.
In the future, WBG is looking to innovate using technology to assist clients more and to keep abreast of the Industrial Revolution. “We will achieve this by staying current and utilising new and innovative technologies to improve the industry we are a part of while optimising the services we provide and adding more and more to the value-added benefits being with WBG.”