A jewel in the Iveco crown
Family businesses have been the backbone of entrepreneurship for many years. A key factor is their longevity, which translates to these businesses becoming a beacon in the areas in which they operate. Lowveld Bus Services is one such company
Rural development has become a major growth factor in the South African economy. This phenomenon has created hubs of new business activities in the smaller surrounding towns, including those that cater for citizens from remote villages who require reliable transport.
Lephalale (previously Ellisras) in the Limpopo province has experienced tremendous growth in the area since 1975, when the Grootegeluk Coal Mine was built, as well as the Mataba Power Station in 1983. Today it continues to expand with the construction of the nearby Medupi Power Station, which has created ongoing demand for labour and related services, including public transport.
One enterprise that has risen to the occasion is Lowveld Bus Services. Established in 1983, the company has developed into one of the top bus operators in the region, having exponentially grown with the demand for transport. One of the founders of the company, Louis Rossel, continues to be active in the business as CEO, while son Frans Rossel heads a strong management team as the general manager.
“The success of the company has been our ability to adapt to the diversity in the changing landscape and to gear our business accordingly. Our fleet of buses reflects our ability to cater for the diverse demands of our market – from commuter transport to semi-luxury coaches and minibus executive transport,” says Frans Rossel.
Lowveld Bus Services has more than 320 buses in its fleet and services an area within a radius of 170 km from Lephalale, transporting an average of 35 000 commuters daily on various routes (at least 35 percent are gravel). The recent delivery of 30 new Iveco Afriway commuter buses and four Daily 23-seater minibuses emphasises the increasing size of the fleet, which has trebled in the last seven years.
The Iveco Daily buses have been fitted with velour upholstery and air-conditioning. They will be used mainly to transport executives from the major contracting companies involved with the Medupi Power Station project.
At the handover, Frans Rossel commented: “In selecting Iveco we deviated from our current product portfolio, but after a long-term demonstration of the Iveco Afriway, we were convinced that it was well suited to our operation.
“The low level of electronics in the vehicles makes them ideal from a maintenance point of view, especially as we are operating in rural areas. We also opted for 16 vehicles fitted with the Voith automatic transmissions and will be monitoring their performance very closely.
“As for the Iveco Daily we selected the 18 m3 unit, the largest model in the range, and fitted it with the minimum number of seats so that occupants will be able to travel in comfort with no legroom restrictions,” he continues.
The family’s passion for the business goes beyond mere public transport; it is passionate about running a well-maintained fleet. For instance, its highly trained technicians are able to refurbish bodywork, engines, transmissions and all mechanical parts. This ensures an extension of the economic life of each vehicle.
“This latest additional investment in Iveco products ensures that Lowveld Bus Services is well positioned for future growth in the area. The 51-percent empowerment shareholding may be a major contributor to our future development, but the company will remain a family managed business, proud in the knowledge that our strong management team and loyal staff will continue to embrace diversity,” concludes Frans Rossel.