Nhlanhla Mbatha takes a lot of pride in his team’s work. As production supervisor at PackSolve Drums, Mbatha is in charge of the manufacturing line that produces PackSolve’s popular drum solutions. The line can produce a complete drum in 45 seconds. This relentless pace is necessary – PackSolve’s major clients easily use 1 000 drums daily, and suffer losses when their drum stock runs low.
PackSolve focuses on continually improving its processes to meet this demand. Training and education are at the core of that cultural engine, which regards training as a strategic pillar. Mbatha’s rise in PackSolve is a testament to this culture’s success. His journey really did start at the bottom: “I started working as a contract cleaner. Then I trained and worked as a machine operator, then as a forklift driver.”
By applying his focus on a future he had set for himself and his family, Mbatha took advantage of training opportunities offered by managers, who saw his dedication and passion. His efforts would soon see him promoted into an assistant role with management. “They noticed I was a hard-working employee and suggested I should study and they can take it from there.”
He continued his studies, improving his knowledge around business and manufacturing. These developments aligned with PackSolve Drums’ expansion: the team on the factory floor had grown from four to more than a dozen, especially during peak seasons when demand for the drums spike.
Mbatha’s efforts paid off when he was promoted to Assistant Supervisor and then to Production Supervisor of the entire floor. He loves the role, where he can build and manage the best team as well as get hands-on with the production work: “I really enjoy working as a team. In identifying production efficiencies, the more productive we become. Since I started working on the production side, I could see how teamwork plays a big role. I also like working with my hands and production needs hands-on work. But sometimes I’m too hands-on.”
Mbatha’s story developed through his focus and dedication, as well as help from those who could see his resolve and wanted to help him. The example set by him and others has prompted PackSolve to introduce more training and educational opportunities for its staff.
It made skills and training a strategic pillar of the business. PackSolve offers free training and formalised its training strategy through skills and needs assessments. Most recently, it created a dedicated HR role to focus on training requirements, with the launch of the PackSolve Academy – a learning framework that covers PackSolve’s different businesses and departments.
“Education is vital for success, but it’s not enough to tell people ‘get an education’,” explains Louis Wentzel, PackSolve’s CEO. “We can’t just leave people to figure it out for themselves. You have to treat skills as a valuable resource. You have to think about how you grow and keep skills and what the right skills are for your operations.”
Mbatha’s journey helps inform the value of this logic. Education creates hope. He recalled how dire matters seemed to him before he began focusing on improving his knowledge: “At first, I felt there was a black cloud – I couldn’t see a future. But with the hard work, passion and commitment I put in, I put it towards the future I planned for myself.”
He encourages his fellow workers to take advantage of the same opportunities: “Anything you do, put in the passion and work hard. Always keep your head held high. Focus on what you do and equip yourself with education. The journey won’t always be easy. But stick to it. And nothing beats working as a team and taking advice. We’re all here because of the advice from the previous guys we worked under.”