They are here to stay

The founder and Managing Director of MGD Consulting, is determined to bring innovation to this ancient field of science

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In 2019, Mzi Mdondolo, the founder and Managing Director of MGD Consulting, is determined to bring innovation to this ancient field of science

Mdondolo was born and raised in Mt Frere in the Eastern Cape. He eventually left and headed for the big lights of Port Elizabeth. Having worked for a few engineering companies from 1998 after graduating, Mdondolo moved to the even bigger lights of Johannesburg. He has worked for and started some engineering firms in his past but MGD Consulting is his passion.

MGD Consulting opened its doors in January 2012 as a direct result of Mdondolo seeing a gap in the market. He says that there were a number of black-owned engineering firms but for various reasons, these firms faced a great deal of criticism due to the perception that service and professionalism were not high on the cards for them. He says he saw the gap and, through a constant drive towards customer satisfaction, meticulous attention to detail and many sleepless nights and missed weekends, he has since closed that gap. He views business as a person that has an identity—where its unique characteristics, traits, and operations are expressed in all it does..

Mdondolo says that mistakes are great tools from which to learn, they provide the opportunity to accept the error, learn from it and move on. Doing things correctly the first time saves their clients a substantial amount of money per project. Mdondolo says this comes from a mindset of excellence, which is the culture created in the company.

Honesty is critical in business and he views himself as an honest person and, therefore, likes to work with honest people. Building long-lasting relationships based on trust is a business imperative for success, he believes. As long as there is a common vision, the relationship will last. Mdondolo explains that this relationship could be with clients, employees, or stakeholders.

“Because we operate in a South African context, we need to eliminate greed. Don’t focus on greed, pay attention to balancing social responsibility—with the economy as well as with your environment. Those are the values that are the basis of the business,” says Mdondolo.

Projects and plans

The sectors in which MGD operates include oil and gas, real estate, mining, industrial and construction. The services cover the full spectrum of planning and design, the preparation of drawings, construction documentation, project administration and completion, as well as investigating and reporting services.

One of the major projects MGD has been involved in since 2017 is the investigation and assessment of 11 Coca-Cola manufacturing plants. Some of the buildings were built in 1980, whilst the majority were built in the early to late 1990s. Mdondolo says, by law, structures or buldings, particularly structures over 10 years old, should be assessed on an annual basis in order to keep record of their structural integrity and behaviour for furture repairs.

Currently, MGD focuses on two core engineering services, namely civil engineering, which covers bulk earthworks, roads, portable water, stormwater design; and structural engineering, which is the design of buildings from the foundations to the roof.

Innovation and agility

Mdondolo is passionate about driving the world of engineering into the future and he is accomplishing this through the formation of partnerships, for example, instead of providing a client with a 2D plan of the planned project, they are able to provide a 3D plan. Changing the status quo of how things have always been done is how he plans to take MGD into the future. Aside from giving the client a better view of the finished project, the use of 3D modelling can save money in the long-run by providing a clear view of structural elements.

The secret to steady business evolvement

Mdondolo says that from what he has experienced, tenacity, drive and determination to keep going is what has driven his endeavours forward, and that discipline overcomes everything. Being disciplined about time, cash-flow and work ethic is the key to his success, as is continuous hard work, and he laughs as he recalls often working over weekends to fulfil his dreams.

Another element of success is to never think that you’ve ‘arrived’—a portfolio of two or three major clients isn’t enough. This also leads to a constant improvement of yourself, he says, by learning along the way, driving yourself and maintaining the trust built with clients.

Although the team is small, Mdondolo relies on a network of trusted sub-contractors and as such, MGD is able to keep overheads lower than larger firms. He has big visions for MGD and wants to lead it to become a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, which will eventually include all of the engineering disciplines. Partnerships are imperative to drive this growth, and he envisions partnering with global companies that hold specialised experience. His rationale is that there will then be skill sharing across the globe, which will facilitate more specialised projects, such as façade design. Currently, MGD has a relationship with a German company that only specialises in this, and bringing them on board will enhance the company’s skill set.

The vision

Mdondolo says that the possibilities are, indeed, endless and there is a huge scope to grow and learn. Keeping the balance between the bottom line, social development and the environment is key. He is hoping that the government will make the labour laws of South Africa less restrictive, as this will give companies the opportunity to hire more rapidly and, should the need arise, let go of people who aren’t performing.

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