AfriSam quality cements EB Construction’s success

AfriSam is EB Construction’s building material supplier of choice.
AfriSam is EB Construction’s building material supplier of choice.

Despite the recent decade being among the most challenging periods for South Africa’s construction sector, there are some contractors who have thrived. Ben Wagner explains how he has built EB Construction steadily over the years, and how critical it has been to have AfriSam as a quality cement and concrete partner.

Wagner studied mechanical engineering and started his career in the motor trade. However, his work took the direction of building planning and management, and he soon developed a strong interest and skill set in construction. With his entrepreneurial flair, it wasn’t long before he decided to go his own way, and started out in what he describes as handyman work.

“When my wife and I started a family, I didn’t want to be boxed into a job that demanded long days that would not allow me to be part of my children’s growing up,” he explains. “I needed to be more in control of my time and destiny, and I started EB Construction to give me that.”

The jobs started off small, he says, but soon grew to include substantial home renovations and new builds. Much of the early insurance-related work dealt with fire-damaged homes, which usually involved extensive demolition and reconstruction. He also operated a plumbing team that would deal with issues like burst geysers and the resultant damage.

“Within about three years, I was able to move out of insurance work and take on my own residential, commercial and industrial projects,” he said. A meeting with AfriSam Sales Manager Adele Wentzel opened up an important supply link for cement and concrete. He acknowledges that any business in construction is highly sensitive to the cost of its inputs, but explains that this cost cannot be reduced to the simple price of products.

“As EB Construction moved into larger residential, commercial and civils projects, we went beyond purchasing AfriSam’s bagged cement and into procuring readymix and other construction materials,” says Wagner. “Our projects became more complex, and this meant stricter timeframes and an even closer focus on quality – to mitigate project risk.”

He notes that his company had built its reputation on its attention to detail and on the lasting quality of its workmanship. From its base in Johannesburg, its footprint of projects grew quickly to include working on buildings and infrastructure in quite remote areas of the country.

“It soon became clear that not many of AfriSam’s competitors could meet the high level of its service, as well as the breadth of products and solutions,” he says. “Our larger projects – especially those located some distance from the main urban centres – needed close collaboration combined with flexibility, while not compromising on quality.”

The relationship grew on the strength of the two companies’ shared commitment to the highest standards – whether in service, materials or final construction. Wagner highlights how much a contractor relies on supply partners’ ability to communicate and plan well – as well as to adapt plans when necessary.

“We are often in unusual situations which require both the contractor and supplier to go the extra mile,” he says. “Building in a sensitive wildlife area, for instance, would require readymix deliveries to meet certain unexpected conditions; AfriSam accommodates these in its stride, right from the call centre through to management and truck drivers.”

AfriSam’s depth of expertise – including its Centre of Product Excellence – and its choice of solutions for different applications, has also made a valuable contribution to EB Construction’s growing volume of contracts. At a recent project in the rural hospitality industry, the work included demolition, infrastructure, construction and structural engineering.

“We built the roads with interlocking pavers, so made use of AfriSam’s Roadstab stabilising cement in the sub-base, as well as AfriSam’s StarBuild 32 5N and AfriSam’s All Purpose Cement 42,5N for grouting on the paving,” he says. “AfriSam was also able to supply the readymix for the culverts and bases, and for the off-shutter concrete structure for a wedding venue.”

In addition, this project included a large steel structure over a dam, which required numerous large concrete plinths. AfriSam supplied about 36 m3 of readymix for each plinth, despite the considerable distance to the site. Wagner says he could also rely on the quality of AfriSam readymix, so there were never any issues when engineers required density tests, for example.

Wentzel emphasises that working with EB Construction has been positive for various reasons, including the regular communication during projects, and the feedback they constantly provide.

“Our long working relationship with EB Construction is a good example of how we position our business,” she says. “Good working partnerships are built on trust, which we develop over years of meeting our promises.”


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