“Customers all over Zambia think they are receiving a good deal but are getting ripped off.”

This warning comes from Michael Mukuka, Senior Sales Representative of BSi Steel in Lusaka who says that people are not always getting exactly what they ordered. At BSi Steel they are determined to make sure their clients are informed and do not pay more than what they ought to.

As their motto states: BSi Steel: The best deal in quality steel.

BSi Steel offers a wide range of services and products including universal beams, tubing, light sections, roofing, wire rods, and fencing. Furthermore, their services include cut and bend facilities for rebar (reinforcing bar). This is a metal rod used to strengthen and support concrete structures when they are under tension. They also offer liner kits to mines.

World-renowned, this company has several branches in Sub-Saharan Africa. Zambians are encouraged to visit BSi Steel at their Kitwe branch in Chibuluma Rd, (targeting the mining sector) in the copperbelt. Or the Lusaka Branch on the corner of Lumumba and Bombo Rd, which targets multiple sectors, like construction and agriculture.

Michael Mukuka and Gary Hodgkinson wear the BSi Steel branding proudly.

Gary Hodgkinson is the Senior Trader and Head of Marketing at BSi Steel Lusaka. He mentions that BSi Steel has been in Zambia since 1997. The fact that they are still producing and thriving today, is testament to their excellent quality and service. He says: “One of the reasons why BSi Steel is still around is because we are trustworthy. Our steel quality is high, and we pride ourselves on excellent service.”

According to Gary, BSi Steel always tries to get their customers the best possible deal. They reduce steel costs by offering direct loads from South Africa, which can be done through their exports department. Manufacturers who decide to take this route, will ultimately save a lot of money.

Through their concern for their customers, Gary and Michael share some wisdom to their customers on what to look out for to not get scammed. One of the biggest threats is undergauging as well as poor quality steel.

Michael explains what undergauging is: “It is when a steel supplier sells you less steel that what you ordered. A good example is, you agree to buy 50 mm square tube with 2 mm thickness. In reality, the steel supplier sells you 50 mm square tube with only 1,6 mm thickness.”

Other ways in which undergauging can happen, is when a supplier sells a roll of wire that is shorter than agreed upon, or wire that is thinner than it is supposed to be.

“If it seems too good to be true, it is. Steel is about weight – selling price gets worked out according to it. If you receive a quote from a few different companies and one of them costs a lot less than the rest, you will most probably receive less steel than you asked for,” is Gary’s warning.

BSi Steel is the top steel supplier in Zambia.

Undergauging is especially plentiful in tubing, rebar and IPEAA groups.

Michael also adds that although some steel is more affordable, in the long run the lower quality will cost you more. “It is also dangerous and a safety hazard.”

Some of the solutions they recommend include asking the sales representative to measure the steel with a vernier calliper to ensure that it is the correct thickness or to insist on a test certificate. If they do not provide a certificate, the quality of steel is most likely poor.

Gary sums it all up: “If there is one thing I want you to remember from all of this: cheap is expensive!”

For more information, visit www.bsisteel.co.za.