Long haul to success fuelled by gas
KESTELL Bezuidenhout makes a habit of doubling his business every few months. His initial investment of R50 000 in a small liquid petroleum gas (LPG) outlet in Nelspruit in 1992 with three staff and a single delivery vehicle has mushroomed into a national transport business called Fuelking, with a staff of 57, 16 tankers and a turnover of R2.5-million a month.
A year after buying Logas Distributors, a small LPG distributor, Bezuidenhout saw the potential of supplying paraffin to low income groups and negotiated a distributorship with Shell. Volumes grew from 20 000l in the first month to 50 000l after five months and 150 000l a month by the end of the first year.
Bezuidenhout started regular deliveries to small petrol suppliers and farmers on behalf of the oil companies and soon progressed to larger customers and garages.
The growth in the business warranted the purchase of the first Interlink fuel tanker with a 50 000l capacity. With this Bezuidenhout was able to establish a formal distributorship and an exclusive arrangement with Shell.
He expanded from his Nelspruit stronghold to supply Johannesburg and Gauteng Shell Ultra Cities. In his fourth year of operation, Bezuidenhout secured his first aviation fuel contract and began to specialise in this field.
Fuelking supplies 60% of the airports in SA, as well as most neighbouring countries.
"Our early success was because of service, customer loyalty and honesty," says Bezuidenhout. "With the first contract we got to transport aviation fuel, we achieved delivery three days ahead of schedule. We passed the company a credit on our quote for the job and this engendered customer loyalty."
The company has ISO 9002 quality accreditation, which spurred the growth of the business.
With Fuelking specialising in aviation fuel distribution, it now subcontracts much of the petrol delivery to three other transport companies.
Because of the specialist nature of the business, drivers are put through a rigorous six-month training programme.
Bezuidenhout comes from a farming background, where he learnt self-motivation and drive - the hallmarks of his success. He now plans to open several new depots. "We will open one major depot, and one each in Durban and Johannesburg to enable better management of the long-distance hauls and to give the business better exposure," he says.