Metalwork specialists say there’s more to life than draining racks

What do aluminium canopies, semi-rigid boats, and cheese have in common?

Answer: the Vorster brothers from George – Brendan, Michael and De Wet.

The brains trust of BMD Engineering Services, specialists in welding and stainless steel pipe work, have turned their attention to boatbuilding, with one 5.7m semi-rigid aluminium-hull already on offer as a demo model of things to come. BMD are well known contractors in George and Ladismith, including  Lancewood and Parmalat cheese factories where they have done extensive work on cheese draining racks and other infrastructure.

But it was their work on camper and boat trailers that prompted the brothers to consider branching out into boats, according to Michael Vorster who spoke to SABBEX from the Southern Cape. “After the trailers we decided we were going to build our own boat, specifically an aluminium boat,” Vorster said, adding that the company duly geared up for the new work with a computer drawing programme and skilled draughtsman. Their preferred model is similar in appearance to the New Zealand Stabicraft, but with some uniquely Vorster elements. In particular the brothers believe their metalwork skills allow them an altogether more robust build – eleven separate compartments in the pontoon – that sets them apart and gives them export potential.

Add to that a close-knit family engineering passion now in its second-generation – the brothers’ father has a similar skill set. Said Vorster: “We work in the cheese factories, Lancewood, Ladismith Cheese and Parmalat. We have a lot of welding experience that we can now apply elsewhere.”

He said the interest in building an aluminium boat was partly fortuitous; they had enquired about buying an aluminium boat from a builder in Cape Town. “They didn’t come back to us, and that is when we decided to make our own one,” Vorster explained.

Regarding the future the brothers believe they can make an impact in the global marketplace: “We want clients in South Africa to see the potential of an aluminium boat like the Australians do and obviously our main objective is to export the boat to the US, Australia and Saudi Arabia — that is where the most interest originates from.”

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