For years, even before the attainment of independence, Cernol Chemicals Namibia has been on the forefront for the manufacturing of superior cleaning chemical and today they are a force to be reckoned with in Namibia.
Cernol manufactures and supplies a wide range of formulated cleaning products to all sectors of the Namibian economy such as liquid and powder detergents, degreases and other types of specialty chemicals.
The fledging leading manufacturer is a subsidiary of the SWACO Group Of Companies which own various subsidiaries, all distributing value-added products throughout Namibia.
Founded in 1978, the company is headed by a well-known Namibian businessman, Brian Black as the General Manager/ Director. Black says the idea originated from a lack of manufacturing activities taking place in the country prior to independence and a desire those days to reduce the importation of foreign manufactured cleaning chemicals into the Namibian market as a corporate citizen.
Cernol started off as a 50/50 joint venture between the SWACO group and a South African consortium. The ownership later changed and become 100% Namibian as the local shareholders felt the company was mature enough to produce superior products locally and to manage its own operations in preparation of Independence and nationhood.
According to Black, one of the tools that drive the company’s value chain is making sure that quality is maintained right through the organization, by strictly complying with the International Standards Organisation Standard, (ISO 9001:2008) certification requirements.
He says Cernol stays ahead of the game by ensuring that its business objectives is aligned with the needs of its customers’ base, recognising the interdependency between the need of the company and those of its customers. Blacks stressed that Cernol will only be in existence for as long as its customers are satisfied with its value-add products and services.” In addition Cernol also gives preference to the use of Namibian raw materials where it can do so without compromising the formula and quality of products.
To this end Cernol serves a wide customer base, ranging from ordinary households to government institutions, agriculture, mining, fishing industries and many others. The company mission is to create wealth for all stakeholders, continuously develop human capital and to deliver on customers’ expectations.
Black says that the company’s mission is not done yet as they are looking into a meaningful diversification, including the direct exportation of its products into the southern region in the near future. He added that Cernol continuously ensures that its products are of value-add, easy accessible and affordable to all Namibians and that the company remains the preferred supplier of the Namibian chemical cleaning market as part of it national duty and contribution towards NDP4 and Vision 2030.
However, he pointed out that running a local manufacturing company has its fair share of challenges. He says the Namibia is far from the bulk suppliers of raw material therefore the input costs involved are extremely high and not always in line with those applicable to competitors simply exporting into Namibia from the country of origin of the raw materials. He further said that the ever-increase in transport, labour costs, electricity, other utilities and statutory requirements, in addition to various taxes, will always continue to have a negative impact on manufacturing. “These ever-increasing rises in input cost will always increase the demand for more productivity, including improved efficiencies in order for the Namibian manufacturing industry to remain competitive and of value add to the Namibian economy ,” he adds.
Black further criticised the tax regime in the country, describing it as not sufficient to facilitate serious migration from a mere retailing mentality to a regionally competitive Namibian manufacturing sector. On the procurement front he says that the Government provides the biggest opportunities for growth and employment creation by the private sector, but he laments bureaucracy, mismanagement, continuous cancellation of tenders and the increase in procurement outside the tender provisions being some of the stumbling blocks and challenges for Namibian manufacturers.
Another reason for the slow growth of the Namibian manufacturing sector according to Black is the same tax regime between ordinary trading companies and manufacturing, especially after the first ten years. Consequently this policy discourages entrepreneurs from producing their own products and enhancing a mentality of rather importing even the most basic products into the Namibia market.
“Cernol believes in employing only Namibians and to rather give them the opportunity to learn because we know our people are equally capable and up to the task if given a fair change,” he says.
Cernol has a well equipped factory in Windhoek and gladly assist SMEs in meeting their suppliers’ obligations with a well stocked branch in Ondangwa including agents in some of the bigger Namibian towns such as Walvis Bay and Mariental whilst sales representative cover the scattered Namibian countryside. PF