On March 18, 2022, Bühler celebrated the 50th anniversary of establishing its business in South Africa. The country is of particular importance to Bühler for its customers and Bühler plans to expand its business there, as well as to other African nations. To commemorate the anniversary, a special event, celebrating milestones and special memories between Bühler, its customers and staff, was held in Johannesburg.
It began on January 10, 1972, when Bühler MIAG South Africa was registered in Johannesburg. René Schneider founded the joint company, and Hans Widmer was appointed the managing director and the offices moved to the Raschers corner in the central district of Johannesburg. As the company grew, a workspace of Rand Steel Engineering in Booysens was purchased. In 1976, Bühler MIAG expanded its offerings and leased a workshop in Wadeville, covering an area of about 9250 m2 on a 24,000 m2 industrial site, which was later purchased in 1978. In the beginning, the company’s main activity was customer service, selling spares and wear parts as well as fluting and welding in the workshop. Soon after, the product portfolio got larger as the business grew and more demands of customers and markets needed to be served.
Fifty years later
Now the Johannesburg office is the regional headquarters for the Southern Africa sub-region, from here they are responsible for Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, La Reunion, Solomon Islands, Seychelles, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Bühler Johannesburg is the central contact point for all inquiries, from grain to consumer goods processing and advanced material processing solutions. Stefan Scheiber, Bühler CEO, said that “South Africa has been, and will remain, a country with particularly important customers, both local family-companies and leading regional and global brands. Therefore, a local presence, with local experts has been and will remain key to secure our business, now and in future.”
Bühler is one of over 100 Swiss companies based in South Africa, employing altogether more than 50,000 people.
Future aspirations and plans
Building on its success in South Africa, Bühler plans on expanding other business units besides milling in the region. Stefan Scheiber, Bühler CEO, said that “in the long term, the market of South Africa, including the neighboring countries, will double its inhabitants to 400 million people by 2050. This is our motivation and reasons for Bühler to continue strengthening our organizations in South Africa and also Southern Africa, as we continue to live our vision: innovations for a better world.”
The company has a focus on food processing technologies as well as value services including digitalization; also education and training play a key role going forward. Bühler has the drive to increase business opportunities in other regional countries such as Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. India has recently been added to the MEA region as part of Bühler’s South-South-strategy, now being MAI, (Middle East, Africa & India) so the company foresees further collaboration and opportunities within this scope. Heiko Feuring, head of Middle East and Africa Region, said that “the growing together of the MEA region and the Southern Africa region has reached the next level, so we are changing from a co-existence into a successful partnership with all the great benefits. We can create customer solutions for MEA, we can utilize the supply chain, we can focus on the best country sourcing and develop and provide solutions for Africa within that region. It’s a great opportunity for us.”