Johannesburg: On the road to success in the city of opportunities Johannesburg is the hot spot of South Africa. The lively city is not only culturally fertile ground, but also the perfect location for entrepreneurs like Mischel Frljak. The charismatic CEO has brought his company, National Stainless Steel Centre, to the forefront of the country’s sheet metal processing industry within just a few years.
A success story with humble beginnings
Mischel Frljak and his business partner, Ivan Obadic, decided to found their own company 15 years ago. The pair began with a handful of employees and a production area of 1,500 square meters. “We did everything ourselves – from purchasing through to production,” Frljak recalls. Over the years, the company developed into a center of excellence for processing stainless steel. The production expertise spans from laser cutting and plasma cutting all the way to waterjet cutting. Today, the company grounds cover 24,000 square meters.
My parents were firmly convinced that new opportunities present themselves in Johannesburg.
A healthy dose of optimism
The steel industry plays an important role in the South African economy, and sheet metal processing is booming. Philipp Burgener, managing director of Bystronic in Switzerland and South Africa, is very familiar with the local market. “Our regionalization strategy enables the local Bystronic subsidiaries to directly address the needs of their markets. And in South Africa, there are many companies with high demands.” Mischel Frljak is one of them. The partnership with Bystronic began six years ago.
At that time, it was clear to us that we would have overcapacity with the Bystronic machines. But we were optimistic about the future and made the investment nevertheless.
Hundreds of tons of stainless steel per month
The quantity of steel processed in the massive production hall is impressive. The fiber laser cutting machines ByStar Fiber 10kW and BySmart Fiber 4kW, which the company recently acquired together with the automation solution ByTrans Cross for loading and unloading, further cranked up growth. The company is now among the three leading stainless steel processors in South Africa.
Human-centered and sustainable
A qualified workforce, which is indispensable for operating the numerous high-tech systems within production at NSSC, is hard to come by in South Africa. For the most part, the workforce has to be trained first, and NSSC invests a great deal in vocational education. Faced with an unemployment rate of almost 60 percent in South Africa, the company offers its employees a rare chance, since many operations in the country are taking cost-cutting measures and are forced to lay people off.
In this regard, we want to give something back to society.