Prokon and Micrographics have entered a unique partnership that would see both companies leverage each other’s expertise, while creating a one-stop-shop for existing and new clients.
A 3am conversation 5 years ago between Louis Viljoen, Prokon Director and Keith Stewart, Micrographics Managing Director sparked a bold thought. What if both companies informally shared their resources and skills to leverage each other’s strengths?
Viljoen says that while technology allows architects and engineers to converge skill sets with ease, they wanted a deeper understanding of those fields they know nothing about. “The need to refocus has allowed us to build a relationship with Micrographics where we can lean on each other in those areas where we don’t have deep expertise ourselves.”
Over the past 5 years Prokon and Micrographics have collaborated on several projects. As the two companies worked together, they realised that the different skills they brought to the table would prove invaluable to their clients.
As stalwarts in the engineering space in South Africa, both Prokon and Micrographics have been around for nearly three decades. Over time both companies have carved a niche in their respective fields. Micrographics has been servicing manufacturing and architectural clients while Prokon has been operating in the civil and structural engineering space. The only overlap was their Autodesk Certified Partner status which allowed both companies to sell and support Autodesk products.
While Micrographics made this their core business, offering some of the best support and training for Autodesk products in South Africa, Prokon specialised in software development. The design and analysis software that Prokon developed works with Autodesk software but also operates as stand-alone applications.
Keith Stewart, Micrographics Managing Director
When the 2020 crisis hit early in the year, both companies saw this as an opportunity to re-assess their businesses and align their strategy to surviving and thriving beyond 2020.
“Developing our own analysis software packages has always been our main focus but with our two business units, our focus has always been split between software development and the Prokon Build software sales and support business,” says Marlise Jordaan, Sales and Marketing Manager at Prokon.
For Micrographics, the slowdown in Autodesk business also hit its support services hard but they saw increased software sales. “The reason for our increase in sales was largely due to new customers,” says Stewart.
He says that the company is also feeding off a recent growth strategy that it launched about 8 years ago. “We opened up branches across South Africa and we are busy exploring regions into Africa, Australasia, and Europe.”
With a fresh strategy in hand, both Prokon and Micrographics realised their 5-year courtship needed to be formalised.
Prokon and Micrographics are confident this partnership will give clients the best of both worlds, while minimising complexities around working with multiple firms.
“It’s not possible for one business to know everything, it’s part of the reason why we’ve worked so well together in the past. “For me, it’s about focussing on what you are good at, and because there is so little overlap between our businesses, this partnership is a great fit.”
– Louis Viljoen, Prokon Director
The partnership also aligns with each company’s growth strategy. Micrographics marries their expertise in the manufacturing and architectural space with Prokon’s decades of experience in the civil and structural engineering space, ensuring that all their clients now have access to a greater pool of knowledge and support.
The transition period will be around 6 to 8 months and both companies have ensured that this move will not disrupt day-to-day operations. Staff will not be affected by this move, and both companies are planning to hire new recruits next year as part of their growth strategy.
Prokon and Micrographics’ clients will also not be disrupted, as each company will deal with their customers through the same channels as they have done before.
Louis Viljoen, Prokon Director
“This move will allow us to knuckle down and focus on what we do best, otherwise you potentially end up diversifying so much that you lose sight of what your core activity is, and you lose technical penetration into the market. This is a growth strategy and we’re not doing this to consolidate or rationalise our businesses, we are doing this to increase our market share and let our customers enjoy a better business experience.”
– Keith Stewart, Micrographics Managing Director