|Desbro Engineering Company is shaping up into a household name; for three years in a row, it has featured in the list of the Top 100 medium- sized companies. |
According to managing director and founder Ashu Sennik, the company has been taking part in the competition to gauge its performance as compared to others of its size.
“We have always wanted to know where we stand as a business among our peers. That is why we make a point of always enrolling in the competition,” said Mr Sennik.
Desbro engineering is a steel fabrication company that sprouted in 1997 from its mother company Debro Company, a family business that specialises in production and distribution of chemicals. It is a leading manufacturer, exporter and distributor of industrial and commercial equipment in the food service industry. The company also produces commercial laundry equipment, pharmaceutical, dairy and beverage.
The company’s clients include two leading soft drink manufacturers, a leading maker and exporter of edible oils and two main dairy processors in Kenya. One of the familiar products by Debro engineering is the Brookside and New KCC milk tankers. The tankers are used to transport milk.
Desbro has established itself in promoting uptake and quality of locally produced products. Taking a plunge into the local and regional market is a risk Mr Sennik said was worth taking. According to him, customers appreciate the quality of their work although in the beginning it was difficult to convince them to buy local products.
Desbro was born when Saman Sennik, a 73-year-old businessman, and his son Ashu agreed to start a production enterprise to help local manufacturers who were forced to import machinery.
Armed with a Sh10 million capital investment and seven employees, the two hit the ground running. “We realised that most of our clients had challenges in securing machinery. That was when we opted to open up a company that would offer locally made machinery.” They set up shop a few metres from the sister company.
Demand was low at first. To get a jolt, Desbro sought to tap into Debro’s clientele. The efforts bore fruit and soon the company got contracts from the East Africa region.
The company has continued to rise, thanks to the existing regional presence that its sister company has built over 50 years. At present, it has 45 employees ranging from wielders, designers and engineers and serves a regional market that stretches to Zambia.
“Initially our focus was in Nairobi and other parts of the country but now we serve customers in East Africa and Zambia. We attribute our enormous growth to clients who have become more sophisticated. Their taste has also fostered refined products. We now handle everything from design to piping on our own without charging any extra cost to customers,” said Mr Sennik.
Their journey has not been smooth, with hurdles ranging from congestion at the port that slows manufacturing, currency instability that directly affects product pricing especially for export and cost of electricity which Mr Sennik says is high compared to regional markets, making the company uncompetitive abroad.
A reliable workforce is another obstacle the company faces. “It is tasking to get people with the right attitude towards work,” says Mr Sennik.
Desbro’s future is now looking up as a result of increased growth in steel thanks to interest from local investors and improved political ambience enhanced by the government’s emphasis on economic development.
Determined to make it among the top 10 SMEs this year, Mr Sennik says he is all set with a new team of vibrant workers whom he “treats like family”.