Sparks Electrical News

Hard work produces results

Theo Mashego, managing director of Unidrive Electric Motors, took his place at the helm of the company shortly after it was acquired by Ayanda at Work. From a precarious financial position at that time (around 2013), Unidrive Electric Motors saw its turnover growing in double digits between 2015 and 2016, with further growth in 2017.

Theo Mashego personality of the monthA relative newcomer into the electrical industry, Theo – who lives by the motto ‘hard work produces results’ – quickly learned the ropes by re-examining the company’s product and service offering to ensure it was compatible with the markets it serviced, and ensuring that Unidrive achieved the necessary SANS certification. Theo sees a positive future ahead, enjoys working with people and hopes to visit the seven modern wonders of the world before too long. 

Sparks: Where were you educated?

TM: Most of my education has been in IT and Business Administration and Management, much of it at the Wits Business School, though I have also done courses through UNISA and the University of LA Verne in California.

Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?

TM: I have been involved in this industry for four and a half years.

Sparks: When and where did you start your career?

TM: After high school, I completed an Information Technology Engineering (IT Eng.) Diploma with CTI (now Pearson Institute of Higher Education). I have had the pleasure of working for various companies including Deloitte and Touche, Sun International, Digital Planet and Netsurit where I consulted for companies like TBWA HUNT LASCARIS, NM Rothschild, MDM Engineering and Toga Labs amongst others. In 2014, I left Deloitte and Touche to start a business called Ayanda at Work, which later merged with Unidrive Electric Motors.

Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?

TM: For me personally, the greatest change has been moving from a career in IT, to running an engineering business. With the shift of the electrical industry towards digital, however, my IT background has been particularly useful.

Sparks: What major projects have you worked on and what is your greatest accomplishment?

TM: My major accomplishment was getting certification for Unidrive Electric Motors, especially ISO9001, which was a journey for me and for the business.

Sparks: Have you won any awards?

TM: Not yet. We have spent the past four years focusing on rebuilding the business and will start aiming for awards now.  We recently became a WEG motors accredited repairer, which is a great start!

Sparks: Who has been your inspiration, or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?

TM: Maurice Radebe, currently the chairman of Sasol Oil and Group Executive Committee member has been both an inspiration and mentor to me. I also had a mentor/coach in Jonathan Narayadoo, a retired Afrox executive. He has been key to the success of Unidrive.

Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry at this time?

TM: Eskom’s challenges and the corruption of SOEs. You may be surprised to learn that a small black owned company like ours only has clients from the private sector. We are a labour-intensive company, able to create employment, but have no support of government entities because of corruption.

Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?

TM: Working with people and impacting their lives. Mine is to take care of our staff so that they in turn are able to give excellent service to our customers.

Sparks: How do you motivate your staff?

TM: I motivate through engagement and incentives. I’m open with our staff and speak to them as a group, and individually. We focus on rewarding excellence.

Sparks: If you could "do it all again", would you change anything? If so, what would that be?

TM: We invested a lot of money in our factory and to attain certification, to the point that we even used our Opex for Capex. I would not use Opex for Capex again - the impact on our cashflow was harsh.

Sparks: Would you advise a person leaving school to enter the electrical industry? And why?

TM: Yes, I most definitely would recommend that school leavers enter the electrical industry. It is a key trade of the economy and the skill is one you can use even if you are unable to find a full-time job.

Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?

TM: Focus on the required certification and deliver a quality service, and you will grow.

Sparks: What is your favourite quote?

TM: Hard work produces results.

Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’ (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’).

TM: I would like to lead a listed company; visit the seven modern wonders of the world and drive a Porsche.


Contact Sparks Electrical News

Title: Editor
Name: Gregg Cocking
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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Name: Carin Hannay
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108