THE somewhat complex history of Proplastics Ltd. dates back 55 years to
1965. The company was originally incorporated on 11th November, 1965
as Promat (Private) Limited and it was the first plastic extrusion factory
in what was then Rhodesia. The company was jointly owned by Tramat of
Italy and Prodorite (Private) Limited of Rhodesia. Prodorite in turn was owned by Roberts Construction. The first batch of extrusion machines came from Bausano of Italy and Promat soon set up their factory extruding high quality PVC piping. The incorporation of Promat coincided with Rhodesia’s Declaration of Independence and the subsequent international sanctions, so the production of piping infrastructure for the construction industry became
vitally important for development of the economy. Promat continued to thrive over the years providing top quality plastic piping for water and sewer reticulation in Zimbabwe and the region. In 1994 Promat changed its name to its current name to Proplastics and demerged from Prodorite, and became a subsidiary of Roberts Construction. Roberts Construction (by now called Murray and Roberts Zimbabwe) rebranded in 2012 to become Masimba Holdings Limited. In 2015 Proplastics was unbundled from Masimba Holdings
through a dividend in specie and became a completely separate entity.
The rationale for the separating the two entity was as follows:
• to establish a strong manufacturing business unit with a clear operational focus capable of pursuing its own independent business strategies • to attract focused capital into Proplastics to recapitalize the business whenever necessary
• to enable Proplastics to enter into mergers and acquisitions, as may strategically be necessary, with businesses which are either complimentary or in the same sphere of business
• to create a platform for the Company to report independently and transparently to its stakeholders so that it can be valued appropriately;
• to strengthen and enhance the visibility of the Proplastics brand in the local market
• to unlock shareholder value Since 2015 Proplastics has continued to grow and develop and to provide the best quality piping and related products to the region that are accredited to international and regional standards – ISO (International Organization for Standards), SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) and SAZ (Standard Association of Zimbabwe).
Proplastics is also a member of SAPPMA (Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association). Membership of SAPPMA ensures that all Proplastics products meet the highest standards. SAPPMA’s very purpose is to “create absolute consumer confidence within the SADC Plastic Pipe Industry and to ensure the long term health and sustainability of high quality plastic pipes and pipe systems”. Proplastics is still the leading manufacturer PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) pipes and fittings for a wide variety of applications including water and sewerage reticulation, irrigation, mining, electrical ducting, telecommunications and construction. Since its inception Proplastics has always been committed to a philosophy of growth and development, constantly investing in research and development, and improving production methods and efficiency in order to provide world class plastic piping products to the region at competitive prices. In line with this philosophy Proplastics is about to complete their new state of the art factory at their premises at 5 Spurn Road in Ardbennie, Harare. The new factory, opened this year, provides around 5,300 square metres of modern, efficient working space, while the original factory is now used as warehousing and storage for raw materials. The old factory was quite dark and gloomy and as Proplastics grew over the years it no longer suited their needs. In contrast the new factory is bright and light and custom designed to accommodate their new machinery. In addition, it’s been planned to improve the process flow from the start through all the different production stages right up to the end product. The more logical layout of the process flow has improved efficiency and productivity. In addition, the Material Handling is a closed system so workers are not exposed to plastic dust making a marked improvement in health and safety. The structural design of the new factory was carried out by Engineer J. Mungoshi of JM Consulting Engineers, with factory layout and processes input from Proplastics.
Gutu and Associates were selected as independent Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers. Because of their close ties and the quality of construction expertise, both historically and in the present, it was logical to select Masimba as the main contractors. Njabulo Mhlaba headed up the Proplastics team as Special Projects Manager. Other notable contributions were made by Willowvale Rigging who assisted with the installation of the new machinery – in particular the Penta Piovan Material Handling System imported from Italy. Penta sent out their own technicians to advise on the installation as well as to train local staff in the running and maintenance of this advanced, fully automated system. Proplastics’ substantial investment in new plant and equipment underlines their commitment to continuously improving and developing their output and the quality of their products in line with the latest international standards.
Most of the materials for the factory were sourced locally with some of the main suppliers including Africa Steel, City Glass and Lafarge. The old factory was a brick structure with several internal divisions and few windows, making the interior a bit gloomy and the process flow awkward. In contrast the new factory is a bright white structure filled with natural light from the many windows and with a high roof to accommodate an overhead gantry for cranes, making moving around materials so much quicker and easier. The high roof also helps to control the internal temperature helping to keep both the machinery and the staff cool. Construction work on the project started in 2018. Progress was partly delayed by foreign currency policy and constraints but the factory construction has since been completed. The new factory is expected to dramatically improve production capacity from the current 9000 tonnes per annum to 32000 tonnes, enabling Proplastics to meet current demand in Zimbabwe, as well as to export to the SADC region and the DRC. The factory is basically a steel frame structure set on a concrete slab and clad with IBR Chromadec sheeting. Offices and admin are accommodated on a mezzanine floor so most of the internal space is open and unencumbered. Big loading doors at the front make deliveries and loading more convenient.
Proplastics currently employs around 250 people including staff at the new factory and at their distribution centres in Bulawayo and Gweru, making them a major employer in the industrial sector. In addition, their exports help to contribute to foreign currency earnings for Zimbabwe. We look forward to Proplastics’ continued growth and development while maintaining their remarkably high standards and competitive pricing.