26 April 2024

Caption: The organisation’s role has never been more important as the industry continues to battle headwinds. Source: David Beer

On 1 February 2024, the Master Builders Association (MBA) North held its 120th annual general meeting, marking years of serving the construction industry in Gauteng, North-West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Mohau Mphomela, MBA North’s executive director, said that 2023 was one of the most challenging years the Association had ever experienced, with many of its long-standing members continuing to go into business rescue or actually closing their doors.

However, the Association looks forward to its bicentenary with a sense of optimism symbolised by the inauguration of a new president, Liana van der Walt, and vice-president, Gavin Morrow.

MBA North dates back to 1894 when the Johannesburg Master Builders Association was founded. In 1996, it joined up with the equally venerable Pretoria Master Builders Association, founded in 1903, to form the Gauteng Master Builders Association. The organisation expanded to cover North-West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo as well as Gauteng in 2012, which is when its current name, MBA North, was coined. It is an employers’ organisation, serving the interests of its members in the building and allied trade industries, and over the years its members have been responsible for many of the landmarks that represent the region.

Many of MBA North’s members have been on its books for decades, and many are smaller, family-owned businesses – an excellent indication of the potential this industry has for intergenerational empowerment.

Mphomela says that these stalwarts have played a role in helping MBA North establish itself as a trusted advisor to its members, and to the success it had realised in training and skills development, the preparation of standard contracts and manuals and, in particular, the great strides made in health and safety in the construction industry.

Morrow says, “The challenges continue, but there are some indications that the outlook could be turning more favourable. Word from colleagues in the industry is that there is a noticeable uptick in the number of tenders out there, which is obviously good news for principal contractors and subcontractors alike. However, we’re also hearing that tenders are slow to be awarded.”

Morrow believes that demand from the emerging middle class has the potential to drive demand for new construction projects, with a strong focus on residential estates. Other growth drivers include the logistics sector, which is busy taking up the slack caused by the implosion of Transnet and needs to expand its network of warehouses and depots.

Morrow adds that continuing high demand for student housing is also driving the market. “The private sector has seen the opportunity, with investments also coming from the big pension funds,” he says. “In addition, there’s a lot of cash in the economy and the potential lowering of interest rates this year could also play a positive role in stimulating new business.”

Continued in Part 2…

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