Adroit Technologies - reborn and thriving!

April 2002 News

'Proudly South African'

While there were some understandable concerns (stemming from the demise of Planit Technology Holdings) - Adroit is actually looking great. Having recently visited that company I can earnestly state that not only is Adroit firing on all cylinders it will continue to confound its opposition as it has upgraded from a straight six to a V8.

Adroit, as probably the only local player in scada development for national and international projects, is already well known to the local I&C industry having been in business since the late '80s. Unfortunately at the peak of the boom in the IT industry it was acquired by JSE-listed Planit Technology Holdings. At that time this acquisition promised lots of new investment and golden international opportunities so it was irresistible. Unfortunately the parent company burned its rands into cents through board level in-fighting and a number of really poor acquisitions. Compounded by the global slump in the IT industry, Planit was forced into voluntary liquidation on November 14 last year.

As for Adroit itself, during its four years of operation in the Planit fold it had still managed to grow its business year on year and possessed both a positive cash flow and a strong forward order book. When it became obvious that Planit was irrevocably doomed, Adroit's management team immediately put plans they had already developed into action, and proposed a management buyout to save Adroit from the inevitable.

Unfortunately this laborious and frustrating operation was to stretch out over three months with the new privately owned shell company Advanced Worx 112, finally only acquiring the assets (not liabilities) of Adroit during the first week of March 2002. The new Directors (and owners) remain unchanged from the previous set-up, being: Dave Wibberley (Managing), Mike Lamusse (Technical), Graeme Campbell (Financial) and Paul Geng (Business Development). The company continues to trade as Adroit Technologies for obvious reasons, the brand name being legendary.

Tray-C Herbert, Dave Wibberley and Alex Leggatt at Electrex 2002
Tray-C Herbert, Dave Wibberley and Alex Leggatt at Electrex 2002

The management team never had any doubt of its buyout being a success, but everyone was concerned with the length of time it took to get everything sorted out. While there was no shortage of hostile offers to buy the Adroit business, this was never of concern as the company is based on the intellectual property of its people. The latter wanted the stability associated with a return to self-ownership and an unfriendly purchaser would have acquired an empty shell. The dedication and loyalty shown by the staff of Adroit is reflected by the fact that despite the uncertainty not a single person resigned during the negotiation period. In fact business was so good that Adroit had to acquire new talent. It should also be noted that competitors took the opportunity afforded by the uncertainty to approach several key staff with very attractive offers, all of which were rejected.

Members of the Adroit team
Members of the Adroit team

So why has Adroit become such a successful 'people company'? According to Alex Leggatt, Marketing Manager, "a company is only as strong as people's belief in it", while Paul Geng believes that Adroit's staff not only enjoy what they are doing but the software developers are motivated by continuous new challenges. Whatever the reason there is a buzz of professionalism and satisfaction in the new Adroit from the friendly welcome by the receptionist to the proud and personal introduction to the members of the staff. The environment certainly helps as although Adroit is located in the expensive Randburg area its premises extend over a large site with plenty of open air space. Within the office complexes themselves areas are set aside for staff to relax and interact. As regards staff, Adroit is technology intensive and this is reflected by the fact that more than 80% of its personnel complement of 50 possess higher degrees.

Adroit was an early adopter of the 'Proudly South African' logo, which is prominently displayed on all their exhibition material (the company re-launched itself at the recent Electrex). Fitting the Alec Erwin (DTI) profile for an SMME, it has been the recipient of the IDC SPII funding and received the Top Technology Company Award during 2000.

Adroit also boasts a well-equipped training area with twelve PC seats. In the last year alone more than 500 people from southern Africa attended courses here, ranging from technicians to plant managers. These individuals also enjoyed the other features of the Adroit facility including the private dining room and convivial braai area.

The boom in business experienced by Adroit since November cannot be attributed to the more recent depreciation of the rand, as decisions regarding scada implementation are not made overnight. Paul Geng in fact attributes the company's resonant business to the fact that local industry has finally realised that the locally developed Adroit product is keeping pace with the best and has been accepted internationally with users in Europe, Australia and North America. This penetration of the global market has helped overcome the common South African perception that an overseas product must be better. The other factor underpinning the success of Adroit is the fact that as the product is local, support levels are accordingly much better. Over the last 30 months Adroit has in fact dramatically expanded its national presence with sales offices and engineers being located in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Kroonstad. The company can now rightly say that it is always close to its customers, physically and through really understanding their needs.

It is also important to note that Adroit has always had a policy of establishing a long-term relationship (partnership) with its clients. This stood it in good stead during the turbulent period as these customers had confidence that Adroit's management would succeed in their buyout and they did not desert the company.

Adroit, now back in the right hands, and with morale growing by the day, intends to continue to grow both nationally and internationally (through its equally dedicated distributors). There is lots of room for physical growth in its present extensive and conveniently located premises. According to management we can continue to expect continuous innovations from Adroit as it keeps pace with its international competition.

Dave Wibberley, Adroit Technologies

011 781 3513

The Opus connection

Not many people are aware that Adroit has another dynamic company, Opus Technologies, located in its expansive Randburg premises. Opus was always owned by the Adroit management team and was thus unaffected by the buyout process. It is on the point of launching Version 2 of its highly successful Opus software and this will be distributed in South Africa by Adroit.

Opus is a state-of-the-art business intelligence and reporting tool and addresses many of the current reporting problems experienced by the process control industry. Opus allows data to be gathered from any realtime system or database and then allows it to be compiled and presented in any suitable format. The latter of course includes Excel spreadsheets, pie charts, bar charts, graphics and standard text report formats.

Opus will be launched into the competitive US market during April, and its ease of use (for anyone familiar with Microsoft Office), cost, power, and scalability leads Adroit to believe that it will be yet another global winner. (Read more about Opus on 'Generation of reports made simple and portable')


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