I grew up on a mixed farming operation in the Matatiele area of East Griqualand and attended Weston Agricultural College near Mooi River in the KZN Midlands.
Throughout my youth nature and the environment have always been close to my heart and this environment fostered a great respect for nature.
In my early career days, I managed numerous farming operations, from beef to forestry and tea.
While I was working at Ntingwe Tea Estate I was head-hunted by a company based in Hillcrest to head up their Institutional and Social Development activities within potable water projects throughout the rural areas of KZN.
It was whilst I was working on these projects that I came across rivers that were showing signs of pollution. Obviously this intrigued me, and I started investigating further and found waste water treatment facilities that were under duress due to lack of infrastructure and poor management practices and it was concerning that it was affecting settlements downstream.
It just so happened that a local chemical company approached me to assist them in conducting trials on bacterial / enzyme products, specifically for pit latrines.
Whilst I was assisting with these trials, I conducted a lot of research and realized these products were much more diverse than I had first thought, and the applications were extremely broad in terms of waste treatment.
From that exercise and experience, Biochem was born and focused mainly on importing bacteria and enzyme products for industrial applications in treating different waste streams.
Biochem was birthed in the early 2000s and grew organically throughout KZN. In 2005 I partnered with Craig MacKenzie and Bryn Elliot in order to expand the company further.
Dealing directly with the hospitality industry, we realized that there was a need for natural cleaning products that would be more compatible with their waste streams without damaging the environment. This led to the purchase of the Nu-Eco brand, which is manufactured from 100% natural ingredients and is completely environmentally friendly. I don’t think we realized at the time what a perfect fit it would be.
Since then both the Biochem (bacteria enzymes) as well as the Nu-Eco natural home products have grown from strength to strength. Our factory has expanded three times since 2005. Our staff compliment has grown as well as our footprint in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Gauteng (Pretoria and Johannesburg). The most exciting part of this growth to us is the positive environmental impact our products are having, which is very much evident in our new Wild Range and our newly launched Amenities range.
One of the exciting sector growths within Biochem is within soil and water remediation. We’re currently involved in numerous projects involving hydrocarbon and heavy metal contamination in both South Africa and the United Kingdom. The benefits of treating these soils, and how efficiently it can be done, has been mind-blowing to discover. Just the time it takes to remediate a contaminated site can be reduced by 80-90% of the current methods being used. It’s still a work in progress but we’re passionate about pursuing this and the potential positive impact it could result in for heavily polluted areas.
At the end of the day, each harmful chemical that is used in our day-to-day products result in the need for correct treatment or soil and water remediation, and that is at the heart of we are.