HENSOLDT creates unified brand in South Africa as it embarks on consolidation and expansion
Globally renowned sensor solutions provider HENSOLDT has brought together its two subsidiaries in South Africa, GEW Technologies and HENSOLDT Optronics South Africa which, under the consolidated HENSOLDT South Africa brand, will see targeted growth and expansion in products, services, sales and R&D in what amounts to a bold new era for the company.
“Consolidating GEW and Optronics under the HENSOLDT brand is an important strategic step towards the future growth of our South African business”, said Thomas Müller, CEO of HENSOLDT. “We will leverage the power of the HENSOLDT brand and our global footprint to open new market opportunities for our South African business.”
GEW has for decades been a highly-regarded specialist in spectrum dominance and electronic warfare systems, whilst Optronics is one of the world’s leading optronics suppliers, covering airborne gimbals, to submarine periscopes and laser rangefinders. Together, the two companies have more than 70 years of combined experience and proven industry success.
The creation of HENSOLDT South Africa is a milestone in the growth of the South African business, with the new company aiming to leverage the immense power and well-earned trust of the global HENSOLDT brand to double its turnover, staff and reach in the next five years and open up new market opportunities as well as develop critical skills.
“This is a major step towards our HENSOLDT South Africa Growth Strategy and the creation of a South African sensor solution house”, said Celia Pelaz, Member of HENSOLDT’s Executive Committee and responsible for the strategic development of HENSOLDT in South Africa. “We are committed to further investing in the growth of our South African footprint and support president Ramaphosa’s announced investment drive. Our experience in the country shows that international investment and cooperation that has been added to local infrastructure, skills and capacity is the perfect mix for business success and local economy growth.”
Leveraging the strong heritage built up by the two South African brands over the past decades, the company is deeply committed to investing in the growth of its footprint in South Africa and investing in the country – it already contributes significantly to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as GEW and Optronics have a combined turnover of more than R1.5 billion per annum. This will grow as HENSOLDT invests half a billion rand in South Africa, indicating the great confidence the company has in this market.
As it designs, manufactures and supports all its products locally, HENSOLDT South Africa is a vital supplier of sovereign electronic warfare technology to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), providing a critical strategic capability.
HENSOLDT does not only service the defence and security markets – for instance, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has been using its direction finding equipment for spectrum monitoring and regulation for more than 20 years. It is also active in wildlife conservation, having developed a combined radar and electro-optical surveillance system that is protecting over a thousand rhinos in South Africa. This is part of the company’s aim to contribute meaningfully to conservation and is in line with its social responsibility goals.
HENSOLDT South Africa is well positioned to achieve its aim of becoming the leading defence and security electronics house in the region. It aims to expand its product portfolio and expand its market, particularly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe. However, it will continue to offer every single one of its well-proven existing products to customers whilst expanding its offering into the radar, data link, Identification Friend or Fore (IFF), customer services and business development fields, amongst many others as part of its ambitious growth blueprint.
HENSOLDT believes that international investment and cooperation utilising local infrastructure, skills and capacity is a proven recipe for local economic growth and business success. “We have the competency and capacity in South Africa to build a global organisation from the South African base,” Van der Watt says. This includes organic and inorganic growth, with investment within HENSOLDT and other businesses. As a hub of innovation and excellence, HENSOLDT South Africa will match and exceed the best the world has to offer.
HENSOLDT South Africa is the largest industrial presence of the group outside of Europe, with 600 employees, who are all South African (HENSOLDT has an international workforce of some 5 000). Its employees are renowned for their work ethic and reputation for quality and commitment. With the company’s ambitious expansion plans, it is expecting to grow its skills base by several hundred mechanical, electronic and computer engineers.
“One of my goals is to make sure we are a responsible corporate citizen and follow the recently launched South African Defence Sector Charter. We will make sure this company has improved good Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) rating,” Van der Watt says. This includes building suppliers and growing the local industry as part of HENSOLDT South Africa’s drive to be a responsible corporate citizen.
This will create innovation in South Africa that will benefit the global market, Van der Watt says. “In terms of how we want to innovate – what HENSOLDT has realised, is that the future is not building weapons or platforms – it is about data and information. Our positioning is, we are a sensor solutions house. We want to be the number one sensor solutions house in the world, which means we design sensors that generate data; positioning ourselves closer to where the future lies, which is closer to the data.”
Van der Watt brings his extensive experience in the industry to his position as Managing Director of HENSOLDT South Africa, having founded Parsec in the mid-1990s. He previously worked for Etion, which was created when Parsec and Ansys merged. Hennie Venter is the Chief Executive of the electronic warfare side of the business and Deon Olivier is the Chief Executive of the optronics business unit. Under the leadership of Rynier van der Watt and his team, who together have decades of industry experience, HENSOLDT South Africa is making use of its rich heritage to leap into the future and become the leading defence electronics and security solutions provider in South Africa, for the entire world.