15 years in the Industry!
Officially, KRU Detailing cc was started on 19 September 2002 at 14 Argyll House in Parktown by Krzysztof Szymczak (Kris), Rudi Gudde and Uwe Goldbeck. They had met at the University of the Witwatersrand while studying Civil Engineering.
KRU was started with one Tekla Structures (then XSteel) licence but it became apparent very soon that 3 people working on 1 licence wasn’t feasible. KRU procured a loan from Kris’s father to acquire 2 further licenses.
The first few months were understandably tough and Kris sought employment at Semane to make ends meet. He would end up working at Semane permanently and secured KRU a substantial job from them in the first year. This job helped us to pay back the loan and buy out Kris and his ownership share was replaced by Paul Wolstenholme (also a study friend from Wits) who was also KRU’s first (non-partner) employee.
In these early days, the company ethos was one of “learning on the job and muddling through” and though the engineering background was relevant, the finer intricacies of detailing were learnt at the “School of Hard Knocks”. KRU did, however, have very good relationships with their initial clients and they appreciated that we’d bend over backwards to customise their information.
KRU was moved to 165 Avenue in Parktown North early in 2006.
Uwe eventually left to join Semane towards the end of 2006 and Paul to join Hatch in 2007, both to pursue engineering careers. Rudi remained on to run KRU but Paul and Uwe stayed on at 16 5Avenue until they moved out in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
In late 2007/early 2008 Rudi embarked on a mission to train Johann Strauss, Bertus de Wet and Monika Froelink (current employees) to run the company in an effort to become an employee run company. This concept proved a step to far, but Bertus and Johann showed interest and aptitude and persevered with the “on-the-job” training. They eventually became partners in August 2008; just before the global financial collapse.
Johann and Bertus had a professionally adversarial relationship which allowed them to discuss and explore the best solutions at the time for KRU. They helped KRU to become a much more professional service provider with a standardised product and a company ethos that moved away from personal client relationships. They introduced the Quality Management System (QMS) and more rigorous checking. Given the size of KRU this became necessary but it resulted in a service that became more rigid and controllable. This helped KRU survive the downturn in the engineering industry which is still being felt today. As part of the “formalisation” of KRU, it moved to Fancourt Office Park in 2012. This also eased traffic to and from the office for most employees.
Though Rudi was still around, he withdrew from client-facing roles from August 2008 and ultimately withdrew from all managerial functions when KRU moved to Fancourt Office Park. His role is advisory only to this day.
Bertus left KRU to explore other options in business coaching in 2013, leaving Johann (as majority shareholder) to run the company in its entirety. KRU, under Johann, has become more client focused again and has now found a happy balance between uncompromising professionalism and friendly client relationships. This is helping KRU stand out as a steel detailer of choice. The “K”, “R” and “U” have been rebranded to “Knowledgeable team, Reliable expertise, Unique thinking. Recently, Corlia Strauss extended her role at KRU from Office Administrator to Director of Finance and Operations. Johann and Corlia form a formidable team in ensuring KRU’s future.
KRU was always a fun place to work at. Employees are encouraged to interact and form strong friendships. KRU always took in young candidates and trained them for their detailing roles. KRU is also proud to have prepared them for careers in the detailing field outside of KRU. Some notable past employees are Mark, Melton, Monika, Werner and Ettienne. KRU is also proud of its current employees. Mitch and Phillip chose to return to KRU after testing the waters outside the company. Baboloki holds the notable “long service” record at KRU among the employees. KRU’s current detailing team is remarkably stable and relies on phenomenal teamwork to stay ahead of the industry and its competitors.
KRU has been involved in some notable jobs over the years. Jobs that won steel awards and commendations at the South African Institute of Steel Construction Steel Awards were:
- ICC Arena, convention and exhibition extensions, Durban (Category Winner Engineering/Architectural 2007)
- Turbine Square Shopping Centre (Category Winner Architectural 2008)
- Lebone College Tree-column structures (Architectural Category Commendation 2011)
- Alexander Forbes, Sandton (Category Winner Architectural 2013)
- Malapa Fossil Excavation Site (ASTPM Tubular Category Winner and Overall Winner 2014)
- Nominated Projects for 2017 Kyalami Shopping Center & Ahrlac Manufacturing Holdings