The long-term future sustainability of small- and medium enterprises (SMEs) lies at the heart of stabilising and securing South Africa’s road freight sector – an industry of some 100 000 operators of which about 90% are SMEs, Michelin executive Charl Lensley has said.
Speaking at last week’s Road Freight SME Summit in Sandton, the sales director for the French tyre manufacturer highlighted the significance of nurturing SMEs within the sector, especially insofar industry pioneers and innovators converged to explore important and viable, long-term solutions.
“These solutions encompass sustainability, cost savings, safety, and security among other critical factors,” Lensley said.
He emphasised that Michelin’s “shared mission, in collaboration with the government, is to empower SMEs, enabling them to play a more substantial role in the country’s economy.”
Lensley spoke alongside some distinguished leaders, including acting director-general for Small Business Development Thulisile Manzini, Gordon Institute for Business Science founder and academic from Infinity Dynamic Strategy, Nick Binedell, as well as the CEO of the Road Freight Association, Gavin Kelly.
In a post-event statement, Michelin summed up the summit saying the gathering of respected industry luminaries “lent their expertise to address these pressing challenges, specifically focusing on the concerns of small and medium-sized enterprises in the road freight sector.”
From a sustainability point of view, Michelin is well-positioned to extol the virtues of staying power as the multinational knows a thing or two about what it takes to excel with ESG (environmental, social and governance) in the 21st century.
Known for its famed “Michelin Man” icon, the company mascot that was conceived back in 1894 is white because tyres only became black because of durability innovation introduced in 1912.
The modified polymer matrix of rubber turned it black and enabled tyres to last longer as the automobile age gathered momentum, in time completely replacing white-walled tyres.
Harking back to its commitment to performance, lifespan and safety, the Michelin statement said the sustainability-focused summit succeeded in underscoring challenges that “include but are not limited to soaring fuel costs, subpar road conditions, labour disputes, navigating intricate legislative compliance, tackling cross-border complexities, combating corruption, upholding road safety standards and ensuring the security of cargo and vehicles.”