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sernick

timeline

START
1948

Nick Serfontein is born in Edenville in the Free State.

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1966


Nick Serfontein completes his matric certificate at the Edenville High School.

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1967-1970


Nick enrols at the University of Pretoria and completes his BSc Engineering degree.

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1971-1975


Nick works for Sapekoe Tea Estates in Tzaneen as chief engineer.

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1976-1977


Nick works at Norse Construction in Nelspruit.

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1977


Nick joins Eksteen, Van Der Walt & Nissen as consulting engineer and after only six months he is appointed as a director at the firm.

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1991


Nick forms EVN Consulting Engineers and is appointed chairman.

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1999


The Otto Langenhegger Consulting Engineers firm is purchased and merges with EVN. Both companies are sold to the Bigen Africa Group. Nick Serfontein is appointed as chairman of the group.

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2003


The Bigen Africa Group restructures and Nick is appointed deputy chairman.

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The Sernick Group
1978

Sernick Pty Ltd. is registered to render engineering services as a consulting engineering practice and the Sernick Trust is formed with Nick as Trustee and his three children Nicolette, Vida and Carel as beneficiaries.

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1983-1989


Nick buys his first 30 commercial Bonsmara heifers as well as the farm Vredeverwag (251ha) and starts the first Sernick Bonsmara stud. The stud is gradually increased, and he rents the farm Liebenbergstroom from his father.

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1990


Nick purchases the farms Liebenbergstroom (857ha from his father), Rachelsdeel (452ha), Hebron (171ha) and Vlakte (256ha) and increases the stud.

The first fully automated Phase C Bull Testing Station is built on the farm Liebenbergstroom to test bulls for average daily gain and feed conversion.

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1995


Another 362ha is acquired – Nick buys a portion of the farm Constantia.

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1996


A feedlot for 1 500 cattle is built on the farm Liebenbergstroom.

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1997


Sernick Abattoir Pty Ltd. is registered, and the abattoir in Kroonstad is procured at a cost of R1.4 million. A further R3 million is spent improving and upgrading the abattoir.

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1998


The Abattoir is closed down as a result of poor financial performance.

A new initiative is launched under the name Country Cuts where Bonsmara carcasses are deboned and supplied to franchised outlets.

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1999


The Feed Factory encounters technical problems and this limits the production to 2 400 tons per month.

The lick plant is separated from the main production area along with other improvements at a cost of R300 000.

The Bonsmara stud peaks at 600 breeding cows.

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2000


Country Cuts operates at a loss and is closed down in May. The Abattoir is re-opened for wholesale and contract slaughtering, 45% shares are sold, funding in the amount of R7.5 million is obtained from the IDC, and a feedlot of 4000 cattle near Kroonstad is rented to support the Abbatoir.

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2001


Half of the Bonsmara Stud is sold to finance the Feed Factory.

As a result of poor management, the feedlot in Kroonstad incur huge losses and it is closed down.

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2001-2002


Further improvements to the Feed Factory are made to increase the production to 4 000 tons per month. However, a maximum of only 2 200 tons is achieved and an additional marketer is appointed to increase sales while a dedicated action programme is developed to decrease operating costs.

The events of 11 September 2001 result in a dramatic increase in the cost of raw materials and places pressure on the cash flow. The production is scaled down to 1200 tons per month with associated retrenchments to limit losses.

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2002-2003


Production and sales gradually increase to peak at 3660 tons in August of 2003 with a favourable financial results. The Abattoir continues to show losses.

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2003


Sernick takes over the management of the Abattoir and shows a profit of R800 000 at the end of the 2003/4 financial year.

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2004


Nick retires from Bigen Africa Group and Carel, Nick's son, joins the Sernick Group.

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2004-2005


Both the Feed Factory and Abattoir improves on the previous year's performance. 

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2005


Nick focusses more on all of the Group's enterprises. The Bonsmara stud is increased to 700 breeding cows.

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2006


Both the Feed Factory and Abattoir continue on an upward curve.

A business plan is submitted to Standard Bank in May to increase the funding of the Group to stimulate growth.

A strategic planning workshop is held in September on all enterprises.

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2007


The Feed Factory ends the financial year 2006/7 on a profit of R9.5m. The increase in production and higher sales prices increases the debtors to R18 million and puts a great deal of pressure on the cash flow.

The dramatic increase in raw materials increases the sale price from R1 400/ton to R2 050/ ton by the end of 2007. This result is an increase in debtors by +- R7 million. The facility at Standard Bank is increased to fund the debtors. Between September and November, the production is decreased to 5 000 tons per month to manage the cash flow.

The worst drought in living memory increases the pressure on the natural and financial resources. However, early rains towards the end of September 2007 bring welcome relief and the grazing conditions improve dramatically. The farms Dagbreek and Cyfergat (574ha) are bought and 250 ha of Smutsvinger grazing is established.

Sernick Country Meat abattoir continues its upward curve despite difficult conditions. The Feed Factory recovers well towards the end of the year following a spell of poor performance in September and October.

A business plan is concluded, and a proposal is submitted to Zeder Private Equity to buy shares in Veevoere and Country Meat. At the same time a proposal is submitted to the National Empowerment Fund to fund the sale of shares to a Staff Share Trust for both. Sernick Feed Factory and Sernick Country Meat abattoir address the issue of black equity.

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2008


The negotiations with Zeder/Thembeka are continued to such an extent that Zeder indicates that they will buy shares in Sernick Feed Factory and Country Meat, but the deal is shelved.

Sernick Feed Factory reaches new heights in April and May with a great performance at a relatively low production of 6 000 tons.

70% of the stud is sold on the 28th of May with a turnover of R6.7 million to make space for backgrounding of weaners for the feedlot. A business plan is submitted to AFGRI on the 12th of June to fund the Group's further expansions.

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2009


All enterprises improve on previous years’ performances. The Abattoir is upgraded at a cost of R3.5 million including new chillers, new freezers, a deboning area, new pens, dining hall and offices. The Feed Factory is upgraded at a cost of R4 million with new pellet equipment, additional out-loading bulk storage and the production capacity is increased to 20 tons per hour.

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2010


This is a good year overall for all enterprises making profits despite relatively low volumes through the Feed Factory. Capital improvements continue at the Feed Factory with the addition of 470 m2 floor area for raw materials.

The feedlot infrastructure is expanded to accommodate 5 000 animals and the mixing plant is upgraded.

The Abattoir's out-loading area is improved, and another chiller is added. The Group's annual turnover reaches R400 million.

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2011


Turnover reaches R550 million. All enterprises except the farm make a profit although the profit of R14 million is less than the previous year.

The capacity of the feedlot is increased to 8 000 cattle, a new mixing plant is constructed as well as processing facilities for the feedlot.

A Bonsmara Bull is sold at a record price of R775 000.

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2012


The turnover reaches R700 million. Sernick Country Meat abattoir does well. The Feed Factory struggles and the profit drops by 50% compared to the previous year.

The profit of 2011 is improved by R1 million to R15 million. Two butcheries are acquired in Kroonstad and they make a loss of R1.6 million in the first year.

Weaners are purchased at very high prices.

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2013


The turnover reaches R830 million. The Feedlot makes a loss of R7 million during the first 7 months as a result of the high price paid for weaners, the feed prices that increased dramatically and the meat price that dropped.

Country Meat does well, and the Feed Factory improves by R4 million. A new butchery is opened in Fourways, Johannesburg.

A large dam with a capacity of 1.5m3 is completed in December at a cost of R3 million.

SPARTA custom feeds 5 000 cattle at Sernick.

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2014


The turnover is expected to reach R970 million. Capital improvements include 15 000 tons maize storage bunkers, a lucerne store, a maize offloading facility as well as a new dairy ready-mix plant.

The Feed Factory makes a loss during April and May as a result of the record high maize prices but recovers as the maize price drops.

At Sernick Country Meat Abattoir, the offices are extended to centralise the financial management. The performance of the butcheries improves into a profit situation.

The Mispah Bonsmara stud is acquired, and the breeding cows reach 500 in total. As a result of below normal rains the new storage dam remain at 10% capacity and the Feedlot's reliance on boreholes is a cause of concern.

Patrick Sekwatlakwatla joins the Group to drive our Corporate Social Investment (CSI) programme.

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2015


The Feed Factory starts off slowly but gains momentum towards the second part of the year. The devastating drought during the summer of 2015 resulted in record sales of licks and drought relief pellets which is expected to continue to at least April 2016. This, together with strategic purchasing of yellow maize result in good margins.

The maize price jumps to beyond R3000 per ton in December 2015 but the present stock will see the Feed Factory through to at least April 2016.

SPARTA buys the Taaiboschbult Feedlot from where Sernick Country Meat abattoir used to get six loads of A-grades per week and stops custom feeding at the Sernick Feedlot.

A new retail outlet is opened in Bryanston, Johannesburg and shows good potential.

The devastating drought continues but it also creates opportunities in terms of feed and meat. The storage dam remains below 10% of capacity and the natural grazing takes a great deal of strain.

The Bonsmara stud has a very good sale in May with the average price of bulls exceeding R48 000. Our CSI programme, in particular the work Patrick does amongst emerging farmers, creates a great deal of excitement.

The Group's annual turnover reaches the R1 billion mark.

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2016


The entire Group struggles to get out of the blocks, but its performance improves towards the end of the year.

The drought continues and the Abattoir capitalises on the low prices. The Bonsmara stud has a very good sale in May with the average price of bulls reaching R67 000.

Nick is elected Free State Farmer of the Year and the Bonsmara stud receives the ARC award of Herd of the Year.

The Group's CSI programme gets real momentum with the opening of a training centre on the farm. The farm Erfdeel (xx ha) is bought from the Pretoruis family.

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2017


The farm performs well, and the annual sale reaches new heights with bulls averaging at R93000, the highest in SA for Bonsmara.

The Feed Factory performs exceedingly well while the Feedlot struggles to find its feet. As a result of a struggling economy the demand for beef drops and so does the performance of the Abattoir.

Nick appears on KYKNet show Mega Boere and the Group's exposure rockets. The Group succeeds with an application to the Jobs Fund to increase its Emerging Farmer support programme.

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2018


All the enterprises except the Gauteng retail perform better with the Feed Factory becoming the star of the Group with excellent results. Shortly behind is the Farm with bulls averaging R101 000 during the June sale, Country Meat butchery in Kroonstad gets a major facelift and the retail shop in Bryanston is closed down as a result of poor performance. Meat More is converted into a Roots Franchise.

Nick writes the now famous letter to the President about the plight of emerging farmers in SA and he is requested to serve on the Advisory Panel to the President on Land Reform.

The neighbouring farms Smaldeel et al .totalling 400ha is bought from the Bruwer brother and sisters.

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