Mr. E.E Hochfeld, the father of Steve Hochfeld, our current Director, came to SA as a refugee from Germany in 1936. He worked in various jobs, as a farm manager, a barman and a podiatrist, amongst others.
At one point, he became a lorry driver for a furniture removal company owned by a friend. In the day-to-day operation of the business, they used hessian cloth & jute bags to move furniture around and to protect large pieces of furniture. At one point the owner of the company asked him to throw away the unusable hessian and jute bags upon which Mr. Hochfeld asked: “Do you mind if I sell these?” An affirmative answer set in motion the story of the Hochfeld group of companies.
This first sale of the used hessian and jute earned him double his existing monthly salary, so he decided to start his own business. After borrowing £100 from a relative, he used £50 to buy a van, he appointed his wife as his van driver and he used the other £ 50 to start buying, cleaning and repairing jute bags. Over the ensuing years, he and his business partners built up a large packaging group with ultimately over a thousand employees with operations in Germiston, Durban, Swaziland, Kroonstad, East London, Pietermaritzburg, Bulawayo, Blantyre, Harare, Lusaka and Maputo.
Steve Hochfeld became involved in the bag business from 1965 whilst still studying part-time and completing his formal education. By 1968 Mr. EE Hochfeld had become seriously ill and was effectively no longer active in the business.
Steve Hochfeld’s first official task at Hochfeld was to travel Southern Africa visiting feed mills, maize mills, wheat mills, Agricultural Co-ops and others to which Hochfeld was selling packaging.
During the 1960s and 70s, it became Government policy to ensure that South Africa had more than sufficient silo capacity for the bulk handling of maize wheat and oilseeds. This was to ensure that despite international sanctions, RSA would always have sufficient food storage capacity to ensure food security. Thus, the use and recycling of Jute bags declined.
The company had also been active in the Cut Make and Trim conversion of Hessian and WPP cloth to bags. From the 1970s there were market swings from natural fibres into fully woven tubular WPP bags. So, the CMT business slowly faded away and by 1980 bags were fully woven and converted in the same factory. The bag conversion business was sold to a textile weaving group, and in the same year Mr. E. E. Hochfeld passed away.
Between October 1980 and 1983, Steve Hochfeld joined a friend who had started a grain, oilseed and oilcake import and export company. At that time, and with increasing local demand, RSA changed from being an exporting country of proteins, (in the form of Oilcakes), to become a major importer of these products. Thus, Steve became responsible for the imports and distribution of proteins, brans, fishmeal and other agricultural products to the RSA feed market.
“I was lucky enough to be the right person, at the right place, at the right time and was able to recognize the business opportunity” – said Steve.
In 1983 Steve started his own importing, exporting and trading company and as Hochfeld Grains (Pty), is still actively trading. Over the years further products, such as Oilseeds, Jute and Hessian bags and cloth, Pulses, Meat and Bone Meal and animal feed additives, were added. Other activities such as Forensic Accounting and Investigations, Training Courses for Traders and Procurement, Arbitration Consulting, and Business Mentoring and Consulting were developed.
“I was lucky enough to be the right man, at the right place, at the right time. But I recognized the opportunity.”
Steve has been involved in imports and exports since 1965. In 2003 Steve began a series of training courses for traders, importers and exporters. These have been well received and are expanding.
Steve is recognised RSA Grains Arbitrator and has been involved in redrafting the standard SA Grain Contract SAGOS 9, to include the AFSA Arbitration rules.
Thanga has worked for Hochfeld Grains in various capacities for 33 years and is today the Financial Director and COO of the company. She has an in-depth knowledge of the financial and administrative aspects of the Grain Industry
Over the years Thanga championed our Computer Systems Analysis, Cash Flow Control, FX Management ,Stock Investigations, Forensic Investigations and Insurance Fidelity Claims and VAT Audits. She has added value for the company from a practical point of view and is now also active in promoting sales and marketing in her current position.
Studied for my Undergraduate and Post Graduate degrees at the University of Kwazulu-Natal and Vega Brand Leadership School, specialising in Marketing and Finance.
My career began as a Brand Consultant at FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding) but with a natural love for Agri-Business I so happened to gravitate to Hochfeld Grains in the Contract Execution and Logistics Department. I now trade locally and internationally, focusing mainly on Feed Raw Materials, Pulses, Grains, Jute Goods and Food Aid programs for Non-Profit Organisation.
Over the years I managed to travel widely, acquiring contacts and experience in all aspects of Business and Management, with particular reference to agricultural trading and consulting on international private and government procurement.
With the ever changing and hostile business climate we now operate in, I believe that traders need a to have knack for service delivery and most importantly the ability to foresee & identify problems, be creative in solving them so as to create value and assurance for their customers and stakeholders.
Solly Khoza has obtained his National Diploma in Animal Production at Tshwane University of Technology in 2008.
He did his experiential training at Agriculture Research Council (ARC) in 2007. In 2009 he worked at Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery (DAFF) under a project called Farm Animal Genetic Recourses as an enumerator. He was a site Manager at Early bird Farm Group of Astral in 2010. Solly is interested in farm animal nutrition, so when he joined Hochfeld in 2012 as Personal Assistant, it set him on the path to grow his knowledge in this area. He is now in charge of Logistics and organising the TMS Training Courses with Mr Steve Hochfeld.