LABELLED the "best-kept secret" by clients, Port Elizabeth company Fischer Profile SA boasts being the only South African company to produce roll-forming machines, a must- have in the manufacturing industry.
Roll-forming machines are used to mould metal into complex shapes.
Owner Heinz Fischer said the equipment enabled the company to manufacture complex equipment much faster.
"In one minute, we can manufacture six tailgate rails, for example," Fischer said.
The company has been manufacturing anything from rafters to automotive components for more than 30 years.
Its latest, ambitious, R850000 project – one of the biggest machines made at its Perseverance plant – is being sold to the market in Johannesburg.
Among the other products, mostly automotive components, it produces are window guide rails, cab protector assemblies, door frames and seat tracks for various vehicle manufacturers. Some of the firm's products can even be seen on sportscars, like the seat tracks in the latest Lotus Evora.
All of these machines are not designed using the latest computer software programmes – but by Fischer, on the drawing board he bought for R175 in the early 1970s after arriving in South Africa from Germany.
Fischer started his career in machine building as an instrument mechanic apprentice in Germany, after which he attended a private college and completed a course in machine building. Employment in his country was very scarce at the time and he decided to come to South Africa in 1968. With very limited English, he started as a toolmaker at Volkswagen South Africa in Uitenhage.
During his time with the vehicle manufacturer he realised there was a gap in the market for roll-forming equipment and, after work, would tinker away in a friend's workshop at night, designing and building his first machine.
The rest is history.
"I started operating in 1979 with four employees and a 400m² building.
"Today I own 6500m² of factory space and employ 100 employees," he said proudly.