Leadership

Rugby legend turned mining magnet

gary teichmann..jpg

Rugby Legend, former Springbok captain Gary Teichmann, has made a smooth transition from player to top businessman, taking the lesson learned under the great Ian Mcintosh and applying them to his own business. 

Between 1997 and 1998 the Springboks went on a record winning streak of 17 consecutive test matches with Teichmann as skipper. As part of their unbeaten run they won the 1998 Tri Nations Series undefeated, beating both Australia and New Zealand away from home.

Teichmann the businessman made his first inroads into mining industry way back in 1995, later venturing into Africa in 2006 on an agricultural expansion project in Zambia. The success of that project saw doors of opportunity opening in other business sectors and countries, consolidating their position as a leading construction and plant hire company in Sub-Saharan Africa, with offices in DRC, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia.

Mining Prospectus editor, Gregory Simpson, caught up with the likable Banana Boy at the Mining Indaba recently.

It’s good to see you at the Mining Indaba Gary, how did you get into the mining game?

We started originally as just a plant hire company, progressed into construction and then we’ve been involved in a couple of contract mining contracts. I wasn’t involved in the ’95 World Cup so I had a bit of time on my hands (laughs) and a guy that I studied with was at a loose end and we just started off by buying one little ADT and reinvested and developed the company from there.

The keys to growing the business organically, 20 years in the game is a long time?

It’s basically being around the people that we do have. We’ve had fantastic people and I know everyone says that but I always relate it back to rugby. If you’ve got one weak link in your backline or in your forwards it’s going to affect the way you perform and we’ve been very lucky. My partner is very dynamic and enjoys taking risks so yes we’ve been very fortunate.

And what lessons did you take from your captaincy and impart into your role as owner?

It took me some time to understand the business and I’m still learning all the time but from a rugby perspective you do learn discipline. You need to put in the training hours and put all that effort off the field and on the field to be successful. I was fortunate to have a proper team around me both at the Sharks and at Springbok level, so we try and create the same environment.

I’m sure you’re referring to guys like Ian McIntosh.

Yes Mac was instrumental, he just showed me the passion that you need to be successful, so it’s the same in business, and you’ve got to have that passion. I had great players like Andre Joubert, Henry Honiball, John Allen, Mark Andrews and all those guys and I’m currently in business with Adrian Garvey. It’s trying to create that little environment that we learnt through Mac and through rugby.

Yes I hear Garvey has been partnering up with you in the last three years.

Yes, we started three years ago. We ended up with an exploration drilling contract, and at the same time he came to me, and had got tired of coaching kids, and wanted to find something new so I said,’ well Adrian go and spend some time in Zambia and learn the business, and he’s made it work. He’s been phenomenal, from knowing nothing he puts a lot of hard work in, he’s also starting to put good people around him. You don’t have to be an expert in the business to make it successful as long as you have that sort of backup.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last 20 years and the key opportunities you see in Africa as you expand your business.

We took a view probably 10 years ago to go into Africa. We’ve always had a philosophy that we’re going run good, quality equipment so we were never going to compete in and around town; we needed to be out in the rural areas so the next step was moving into Africa. It was good timing because a lot of the construction guys came back from the 2010 World Cup and gave us that opportunity to create a nice footprint around Africa. The lessons learnt , if I could identify good people just in one interview then you’ve got a skill that a lot of people don’t have and it’s something that I’ve really learnt, that you’ve got to really put the effort into trying to attract those good people and do the homework.

Springbok rugby: are you happy at where it’s at, at the moment?

There’s so much rugby between now and the World Cup you worry about injuries so to say that we’ve got all the players at our disposal is a bit early. If we do have a good run with no injuries then we’ve got the players, and you know Heyneke just needs to pick the right combinations. He’s got to stick to the way he wants to play and then we’ve got as good a chance as any.

You were one of the smartest players in the game.  Do we overlook smartness for just sheer size?

I’ve been out of the game for so long, the game has changed dramatically. I went to the UCT vs. Maties game on Monday and those boys were massive and they were putting in big hits, so rugby as a whole has to look at the rules because it’s become very much a power game and a lot of the selection is done on stats. You’re weighing this; you’re doing this sort of push ups and this amount of bench press. They need to look at the rules, it’s not often that you have a turnaround and opportunity that guys aren’t expecting, so to allow the game to still have a little scrumhalf and a very fast wing instead of just being too powerful, the rules have to accommodate that.

Finally, your thoughts for the Mining Indaba, are you getting good exposure here?

Yes it’s very good, we’ve been coming here for three years, the market is a bit down at the moment with the commodity prices but for me to be here and to bump into clients that you don’t necessarily see because of the location, it’s a good opportunity to meet with them.

                                                                                                                                                                              Gregory Simpson

 

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