Local gas business celebrates 15 years and new premises

Taken from: The Witness Newspaper | Author: KAVITHA PILLAY
Photo by Peter Wickham

WE often take for granted the importance of how an oxygen tank in an emergency room operates, neglect the excitement of having balloons that float at celebrations, or remain oblivious to the fact that some of our favourite restaurants require a very consistent supply of gas to keep providing us with mouthwatering meals.

To most people, the significance and need for gas has not come to the forefront as of late — when load shedding reached a peak and the demand for gas rocketed. Gas, however, has been a muchneeded element ever since it was discovered — and its use in the engineering, medical, food and domestic spheres is continuously increasing.

As a resident in Pietermaritzburg, you can be confident that your requirement of gas will quickly and efficiently be supplied thanks to Airflex.

Airflex was established in March 2000 by Roy Sivemangal, who decided to pursue this as a solo venture in a small shop with just one delivery vehicle. “I started the business on a small scale and the gas market was what I knew best. My extensive knowledge in the field has led to the expansion of the business,” said Sivemangal.

Fifteen years later, Airflex has grown immensely in stature and prominence, with an increased footprint across the country, extending its reach as far as Durban, Johannesburg, East London and Cape Town.

“We are celebrating a double milestone this year: the business celebrates its 15th anniversary and we now have complete ownership of the new building we have just moved into,” said Sivemangal. The relocation to a bigger premises (at 343 Hoosen Haffejee Street) allows Airflex to adequately stock and supply the products to meet the community’s increased demand for gas.

The company is a provider of domestic and industrial gases, mainly supplying the heavy engineering, industrial and laboratory markets, as well as some of the medical industry. “We thank our two principal suppliers, Air Products SA and Easigas South Africa, whose support has brought us this far,” said Sivemangal.

The family business is run by Sivemangal, his wife and two children. “The strength of our business comes from the ladies who work here,” he said.

The company now boasts 12 delivery vehicles and a staff complement of 15 people, with about 20 additional support services that work on sight. “We are proud that some of our staff are working with us for 15 years.”

Enock Magwanyana, a cylinder handler in the yard who refills cylinders, has been working at Airflex for 15 years and is one of the company’s oldest serving employees.

“I’ve working here for a long time and I’m still happy. I learnt a lot while working here. I was a cleaner before and now I know and learnt so much — how to fill and weigh the bottles and connect the stoves,” said Magwanyana, who added: “All the guys work nicely together and get along well. We work as a family. There’s no fighting and we are always laughing together.”

Another longservice employee Musa Ndlovu, who has been working as a driver at Airflex since 2009, said: “I didn’t know about the gas industry. This is the first time I am working in this field and I learnt a lot over the years. I am experiencing so many new things and happy to work here.”

All employees at Airflex receive the necessary training and are qualified to work in the gas industry. They also receive certificates for good conduct and loyalty awards at their yearend and award function.

Due to the critical nature of gas and working in a highrisk environment, Sivemangal said that safety is paramount in the business and all staff members are highly skilled and qualified to work under such conditions. “All staff undergo extensive annual training to make sure they are highly competent to work in this highrisk environment,” he said.

Over the years Airflex has attained numerous national accolades, one of which is holding the best safety record in the industry for the past seven years. This means that there have been no incidents of harm or injuries to staff, suppliers or the clients at Airflex.

The reputable and wellknown company, with an extensive customer base, has a mission to ensure a safe environment at all times for staff, customers and the public at large.

“Safety is the first and foremost priority,” said Sivemangal.

Airflex also supplies allied and welding products and machines, as well as welding consumables such as protective gloves and clothing, offering clients a onestop shop for their welding requirements.

For the domestic market, and currently a muchneeded item, there are household gas stoves and gas appliances, with gas cylinders that will be set up upon your request and waiting for you to collect.

“Gas is probably the most used product at the moment. It is cheaper and easier to use if you The new Airflex building at 343 Hoosen Haffejee (Berg) Street offers customers its products and services in a secure environment with sufficient parking space. know how to use it properly, and vital during load shedding,” said Sunjana Sivemangal, the owner’s daughter.

Sivemangal thanks the community for their support over the years and for the years to come. “The way forward for Airflex is to ensure that we continue to create an environment that is conducive to the shoppers, which encompasses the domestic market, the hobbyist as well as the commercial market. We anticipate our growth,” he concluded.

Now open to the public at its new premises at 343 Hoosen Haffejee (Berg) Street, Airflex offers a larger and more spacious venue, carrying a wider and greater range of stock. The new building is also situated in a secure area that is fenced with sufficient parking space available for customers.

The business trades from 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays and from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. For more information contact Airflex at 033 345 3101/033 345 3738, Roy Sivemangal at 082 466 8873, Sunjana Sivemangal at 082 488 7568 or email airflex@polka.co.za • Kavitha.Pillay@witness.co.za