Paramount: Innovate or dissipate

From the November 2013 issue.

Paramount Trailers gives GT an inside look into how diversifying its product range has helped the company to stay afloat in South Africa's fickle transport market.

Stretching almost as far as the eye can see, Paramount’s new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility nearby Johannesburg’s bustling CBD is a sign that even in the most volatile business environment, savvy management and intrepid investment eventually pay off.

“Paramount’s birth was difficult,” says Managing Director, Warren Marques, whose father Fernando founded the family business some 17 years ago. “My dad comes from a humble background and built everything up himself with the help from financial institutions; so he has come a long way. The company struggled for almost four years before it could stand on its own feet.”

According to Warren Marques, the business was born “out of necessity” when Fernando moved away from competing South African trailer builder, Zelner, but soon turned into a passion project. “He worked long hours, often late into the night, and I believe that only through his tenaciousness was the company able to start turning a profit. It was six months before he sold his first trailer.” 

Inspired by Fernando’s work ethic, Warren, a Chartered Accountant by trade, joined the family company in 2004. “I am not an auditor, nor did I want to become one, so I joined the production department. But because I was the boss’s son I had to work twice as hard as everyone else to prove myself. I still do,” says Marques. “Now this has become my passion. I love engineering, design and running production.”

And how times have changed with the new factory now up and running. Paulo Ribeiro, Financial Director, can still remember how back in the day, all Paramount needed were a few guys on the ground to run the business. “There was a lot more boiler making back then, today it is all mechanised; now there are plasma cutters, laser cutters and guillotines.”

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