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Changemakers: Taking the plunge

Project impact
Exporting countries
Plants in South Africa

What if you are a young and passionate entrepreneur with a good product, but you lack the knowledge and skills to take it a step further in terms of marketing, quality, and export? Michael Voss, director of SmartCap, formerly known as Rock Solid Industries, was struggling to take his company to the next level. By coincidence he heard about PUM, and the rest is history. He took the plunge and was matched with expert Harry Reijngoud. A business-changing decision he is still cherishing today.


SmartCap manufactures a wide range of automotive storage solutions. When it was established in 2007, it was just founder Michael Voss and one employee working on rubberising the back of pickup trucks, or ‘bakkies’ as they call it in South Africa. Michael: “I am very passionate about design, development, and innovation. I like to predict what people need to make their live easier before they realise it themselves and then come up with the solution. When you start a company, you have the passion, but what you really need is guidance. I knew nothing about marketing, sales, and how to set up a business in terms of equipment. During the first few years, I had difficulties to sell my product. Eventually, we entered the mining sector where we started rubberising large industrial equipment. This gave us the opportunity to manufacture a ‘Field Service toolbox’ for storing tools to service trucks or other equipment. I re-engineered what was already available on the market and offered a better product.”

Moving forward

SmartCap was manufacturing a limited number of stainless-steel canopies and toolbox solutions for pick-up trucks, with around 50 staff members. Although the company had a small turnover, sustaining substantial growth was still a challenge. Michael recounts: “As an entrepreneur you are motivated to succeed. You have to find that opportunity, and that opportunity came to me one morning as I was driving to work and heard on the popular radio station, East Coast Radio (ECR), about PUM. After listening to a presentation by PUM representative Akash Singh, I immediately signed the form, eager to start. I was at the point that I didn’t know how to move forward, and there was PUM offering the knowledge that I lacked.” PUM expert Harry Reijngoud, a mechanical and automotive engineer with extensive expertise, was the right person for the job. He covered sales, service, warranty, marketing, and introduction of new components, aligning perfectly with SmartCap’s needs. “You need that person with all-round experience, not just one specialty, who understands the business. And Harry had exactly that.” Akash Singh continues: “I always encourage clients to engage fully with experts and to be transparent. Michael did just that: he trusted Harry completely, and partnered with him for ten days, right from the beginning.”

Hands-on advice

SmartCap requested PUM’s assistance for sales generation, international exposure, evaluation of the paint finish, and increased manufacturing capacity. Michael explains: “We had a little factory, producing 2 to 4 units a day. However, as an ambitious entrepreneur I aimed for global expansion. However, Harry suggested to first focus on surrounding countries, before taking the business overseas. We took Harry’s advice and first concentrated on the local market for product acceptance and quality assurance. During this process, Harry taught me an important lesson: use quality and customer service as the keystone for growth, and do not to use pricing as a marketing tool.”

Harry also evaluated SmartCap’s painting process. They struggled to match car colours with their canopies and the paint manufacturer blamed the application technique. Harry quickly pinpointed the real issue: excessive temperature in the painting area. He guided adjustments to the air inlet with the maintenance personnel, yielding immediate improvements in paint quality.


The first week that Harry was in South Africa, Telkom, a major telecom company, approached SmartCap seeking storage solutions for their truck fleet. Michael: “Together we formulated a comprehensive proposal which we presented in Telkom’s headquarters in Pretoria. Although Harry had only been with me for a few days, he was selling the product better than I could! The meeting turned out to be a triumph and we won the contract to equip Telkom’s fleet of 2500 bakkies. This was a real game-changer for my company.”

Challenging consequence was that SmartCap needed to scale production, in which Harry provided guidance as well. Michael: “Before leaving, Harry crafted a comprehensive To-Do list, essentially my Bible”. And even when he was back in the Netherlands, our connection remained strong, and he continued to give valuable advice and feedback. In 2014, my factory was disorderly, and Harry advised reconfiguring the layout. Although this demanded a substantial investment, we followed up on his advice, completely revamping the factory in ten days. The outcome was remarkable: productivity surged, lead time shortened, and production escalated from 56 to 170 units per month.” Winning the contract helped SmartCap to put their brand onto the market, also internationally. The product evolved immensely, and innovation resulted in staying ahead of competitors and maintaining a unique position in the market.

Lifelong journey

By 2020 SmartCap’s stainless-steel canopies and other products were exported to 32 countries already! Michael: “We came from 50 people in 2014, now in 2023 we have 350 people working in our plants in South Africa and 50 more in our new state-of-the-art plant in Texas. We are even thinking about further expansion in Australia. We are grateful for PUM and their willingness to collaborate with small entrepreneurs. And we are now doing the same for other businesses, wherever we can. Diversity and inclusion matter within my company and we offer equal opportunities to all. We offer lots of inhouse training, people and skills development. Being an entrepreneur is a lifelong journey!”

Michael Voss
Director SmartCap

“What I really enjoyed about the collaboration with PUM is that it was very hands on, and very practical. Harry rolled up his sleeves and was very involved with no strings attached. As a small business, as an entrepreneur I wanted to grow sustainably. I knew I had the right product, I just needed the guidance on how to take the next steps.”

Future growth

Akash confirms: “I still remember the day when Michael contacted me and then the day when former PUM expert Harry was part of that pivotal moment bringing in SmartCap’s first big customer. Since then, SmartCap has accomplished so much, economically, socially and ecologically. Firstly, their distinct product that found its way all over the world. The company now employs 350 people in South Africa, benefitting the community. Furthermore, they are exploring opportunities to replace current generators with a solar system at their plants. It has been exciting and educational to follow Michael on the journey of growing his company to its current success.”

Harry Reijngoud concludes: “With great pleasure I look back on the twenty projects carried out for PUM. It took me to unique, often remote places that you wouldn’t normally visit. The project at RSI/Smartcap in South Africa, was interesting because the assignment quickly changed due to the challenging opportunity that arose at Telkom. I find Mike and his family’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive admirable, and we shared the same motto: if you’re going to do something, do it well!”

Interested in this project? Get in touch with

Akash Singh

Representative South Africa, Durban