Empowerment in all its facets is central to how Elegant Fuel operates, from its corporate make-up to the communities it supports – and to the people who work for its partners.
People such as Stephen Meje, the 2018 winner of the Hollard Highway Heroes truck driver competition. Meje, who through superlative driving beat 1 600 others to be proclaimed the best trucker in South Africa, had a red-letter day yesterday, when his truck was branded with his image and Highway Heroes status.
Meje works for Faith Wheels, a Pretoria-based trucking company established a decade ago in a joint venture with Elegant Fuel. It exclusively transports fuel for Elegant, safely conveying hundreds of millions of litres of fuel over millions of kilometres every year.
For Elegant Group director Ryno Strydom, Meje and Faith Wheels’ win in the Hollard Highway Heroes competition is Elegant’s victory, too, and a fine example of how empowerment should work in practice.
“Faith Wheels and us, because we began together and they drive for us, are both about empowerment. Faith Wheels wholeheartedly encourages and supports its employees to be the best they can, in an industry that is filled with hazards and long hours. It’s not easy to be a truck driver, and it’s even more difficult to be a great one,” he says.
“We always put our people first, including the communities in which we operate, students and schoolchildren, our customers, our own staff and those of our partners – including the drivers of our trucks.
“And what we get in return is quality, as demonstrated by Stephen Meje; his recognition as Hollard Highway Hero for 2018 is a great achievement, and a big empowerment win for us.”
Mark Fourie, director of Faith Wheels, describes Meje as a first-class driver “who really embraced Hollard Highway Heroes and was motivated to do well”.
“His achievement has made all of our drivers more attentive about road safety, creating a win-win situation for both of our companies, our drivers and the public. Since March 2018 we’ve transported 370-million litres of fuel over 7.5-million kilometres without fatalities,” says Fourie.
He adds that the branding of Meje’s truck not only trumpets Meje’s success, but benefits both companies also: “For branding and awareness, it’s excellent for the Faith Wheels and Elegant Fuel brands. Everyone will see it.”
Meje, whose Hollard Highway Heroes prize money of R100 000 has enabled him to pay towards one of his children’s university education and also renovate his home, was jubilant when he saw his branded truck for the first time.
“The truck looks so beautiful!” he enthused.