A tribute to South African food industry pioneer

Obituary of front-runner for food industry packaging equipmentFrans Rynhard Slabber, a pioneer of South Africa’s food industry and founder of successful companies, Package Machine Designs, Family Foods and Tecom among others, passed away on 26 September age, 89.

Frans is survived by his wife Felicity and children Caron, Pierre and Jacques who have taken over the reins of Tecom from their beloved father.

Director of Tecom, Pierre Slabber says the company is managed with the same passion and drive as his late father. It focuses on providing high efficiencies to the food production facilities.

‘We want to ensure consistent delivery of top quality products for the market that operates in an era of increased automation,’ he explains.

He adds that the company has developed, evolved and grown with the true energy and essence his father intended.

Frans studied production engineering after secondary studies and at the same time, worked at a Cape Town company, Melliar & Sons. He then joined international printing company, E.S.&A. Robinson, transferring to the UK aged 21. He was promoted to production manager at 22, and thereafter returned to South Africa.

He was instigative in manufacturing the first packaging machines in southern Africa, which led to the opening of his first company, Package Machine Designs.

The company achieved immense success with the manufacture and sale of more than 1 000 vertical form, fill and seal machines. These machines were sold in South Africa and the overseas market. The company also manufactured production equipment such as blanchers, conveying systems, extruders, oilers, roasters, sugar coaters and volumetric fillers.

Another victorious business was F.R. Slabber & Company, which operated in southern Africa as a buying agent. The company represented various overseas equipment manufacturers for the food industry that could not be sourced locally.

According to Caron, Frans understood the needs of clients and helped them realise their aims, goals and how to achieve success. ‘He did not let anything stop him finding constructive solutions for all concerned. He continued to work, help and support all races towards building a successful future, with many lifelong friendships forged, locally and abroad,’ she concludes.