LIBERATING POTENTIAL - JSE MAGAZINE

LIBERATING POTENTIAL

Primeserv is a company with a deep understanding of the human capital and industrial-relations environment, says its CEO Merrick Abel

LIBERATING POTENTIAL

Merrick Abel is a people’s person. He believes fervently in the view that a strong human capital base and the traits that define the term – largely knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, intelligence and training – not only enhance the capabilities of organisations, but also ensure employability. ‘These are the key drivers to successful human capital management, which impacts enormously on economic value,’ he says.

This too is the directive of the company he heads as CEO, the Primeserv Group, an investment holding company focused on leading-edge business support services that drive increased productivity and performance for its clients.

Listed on the JSE since 1998, the company prides itself on its long-standing client partnerships, such as those it has with not just indigenous SA private firms, but multinationals, government and parastatals, supplying them with temporary and permanent staffing, accredited training, learnerships, business process outsourcing, customised productivity services, wage bureaus and comprehensive HR consulting through its proprietary integrated model, named INTHRGRATE.

It is noteworthy, therefore, when Abel says that SA’s human capital and outsourcing landscape is highly complex in a financially strained economy – compounded, he adds, by a rigorously legislated and regulated, ever-changing labour environment.

‘While we welcome labour legislation and regulation, it must be to ensure the protection and advancement of workers and businesses. However, recent changes to SA labour legislation has resulted in a fluid workplace environment. As businesses get to grips with this legislation, Primeserv has evolved its service offerings to continue to provide fully compliant customised solutions across all staffing and business process outsourcing services, and tailor-made functional outsourcing productivity services,’ he says.

‘Primeserv is also positioned to actively work alongside government, business and labour to match the needs of industry and business with those of all facets of labour, be that organised or individual,’ says Abel. ‘We acknowledge too that national transformation imperatives must deliver sustainable outcomes that benefit the economy and society as a whole and we maintain strong BEE credentials as we continue to invest in transformation.’

Talking of investment, over the past three years, Primeserv has delivered compound annual growth in earnings per share of 27%, with the most recent financial year delivering 17.77 cents per share. ‘NAV [net asset value] has similarly grown by 15% on a compound annual basis with results for the last financial year resulting in a NAV of 127 cents per share,’ says Abel.

Primeserv’s investment profile is enhanced by its intense focus on innovative solutions to ensure that it delivers economically measurable value-added services that directly impact on productivity and performance, and this includes training.

‘Over the past few years, we have delivered some 35 000 training programmes to individuals, ranging from short courses to completed learnerships across the various industries in which we operate,’ he says.

Those industries include infrastructure development, construction and engineering, petrochemical and power generation, mining and special projects, maritime and harbour support, banking and financial services, pharmaceutical and medical services, broad-based manufacturing, agriculture, food services, retail and wholesale services, automotive, transportation, logistics, distribution centres and warehousing.

Training includes disabled learners and the youth. ‘With the latest youth unemployment figures reaching an all-time high of 54%, youth skills development, vocational training and employment advancement have become key imperatives,’ says Abel. ‘We work closely with government organisations, NGOs, business and labour to drive initiatives that develop skills and workplace opportunities in a co-ordinated manner, with results that are both meaningful and sustainable for employees.’

This also translates into Primeserv working closely with the communities in which its clients operate. ‘We prioritise opportunities to include communities in the value chain, be it through employment, procurement or allied CSI initiatives that directly benefit locals, in particular the youth.’

Why Primeserv works, and works well, according to Abel, is because of its deep understanding of the human capital and industrial-relations environment. ‘We have the capability to access the skills required to deliver outcomes-based solutions for clients, which allows them to focus on their core strategic objectives. The development of labour force skills through the training and learnership programmes we offer is a key driver of successful human capital management.’

Abel argues that regardless of what a company does or produces, they are ultimately all about people. ‘We foster a culture of inclusiveness, teamwork and obsessive client-service excellence within an environment of continuous improvement. I encourage entrepreneurial initiative and drive within Primeserv so that management and staff are empowered to seek the best outcomes for all our stakeholders,’ he says.

‘In essence, we are about our people delivering improved performance and enhanced productivity for our clients. Our extensive industry knowledge, business support services expertise and passion for innovation, combined with our deep commitment to the success of people, remains at the core of who we are.’

By Kerry Dimmer