From driver and conductor of his first bus to heading a multi-brand co-operation with a fleet of more than 1500 buses nationally, Mr Mohammed Paruk has developed Tans-Africa Holdings into one of largest and most successful transport enterprises in Southern Africa. With roots in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the emerging enterprise won its first major tender in 1999 when it was awarded the bus contract in Vereeniging operating as Gauteng Coaches. A year later it was awarded another bus contract in Newcastle and surrounding areas developing into what its known today as Tansnat Coachlines. In 2001 Tans-Africa Holdings acquired a portion of Kwa Zulu Transport and expanded into Vryheid, Richards Bay and Empangeni.
By 2007 they had acquired the Masithembe contract and were running over 250 buses in the region. There have been particularly challenging periods in the company's history, but with typical fortitude, determination and a desire to overcome obstacles, the group learned valuable lessons and emerged stronger.
Business opportunities in Gauteng opened when Putco appointed Gauteng Coaches as a sub-contractor and Mr Paruk moved to the city of gold, working with his son Riaz in Johannesburg and leaving his other son Suliman in charge of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Initially, the company operated from two containers in a field in Lea Glen and now has more than 13 depots in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and others in Johannesburg, Vereeniging, Mpumalanga, basically country-wide.
Despite the financial success, funds are continuously ploughed back into the vehicles which are all under four years old and are on service maintenance contracts with principals.
Tans-Africa Holdings operates a range of different services from daily weekly regular routes to charter services under a number of well recognised and trusted brands, including Gauteng Coaches, Ikhwezi Bus Service, Emondlo, Tansnat Africa and Transnat Coachlines.
Key to their success is their belief in hard work and honesty. Looking ahead, Tans-Africa Holdings is confident on capitalising on future oppotunites saying that a reliable safe transport system is central for a successful economy.
Mr Mohammed Paruk
Diesel, dust and a drive to succeed have been in Mr Mohammed Paruk's blood since his childhood years in Danhauser when he helped his uncle in the family transport business after school and on weekends. Since acquiring his first bus when he was still a teenager, he has developed a business which is now one of the largest privately owned bus operator in South Africa.
As a young entrepreneur with no track record, financing a bus in the 1960s was not easy, but operating a service in the rural areas of Kwa-Zulu Natal was even more challenging. Before cellphones, getting help when the vehicle was stuck in the mud meant sleeping in the bus and waiting for a passerby to offer to pull you out, but with his legendary passion, he persevered undaunted
Unable to apply for a government subsidy, he persuaded the small town bank manager to lend him R5000 and from the help of friends who loaned him top up funds he bought a second bus two years later and was soon operating a fleet of five.
Success followed when he tendered for and won a mine contract in Newcastle and in 1995 Putco appointed him as a sub-contractor in Gauteng. Despite this opportunity and obvious potential, he was unable to obtain finance but his preferred supplier, MAN Bus and Truck, offered to back him. This was the start of a profitable and loyal relationship which has enabled Mr Paruk to develop his business into a fleet of over 1 500 vehicles charter contracts.
Setting the benchmark above industry standards. Tans-Africa Holdings (Pty) Ltd, won every prize awarded by the Kwa-Zulu Natal provincial government for service in the transport sector and snapped up at least three major competitors. The company was the management contract for Durban Transport's 450 operational vehicles and operates a diverse range of vehicles from luxury 5-star coaches to commuter buses under the brand names of Gauteng Coaches, Ikhwezi, Emondlo, Tansnat Africa and Transnat Coachlines. His successful family business is a finalist in the Large Business Entity of the Year category as well.
Most vehicles in the Tans-Africa fleet are less than four years old and all are on full service maintenance contracts with suppliers which gives travelers the manufacturer's guarantee of safety.
Mr. Paruk attributes his success to integrity, hard work, passion and vision coupled with many sacrifices over the past 30 years. He also acknowledges those who believe in him and the contribution his two sons Suliman and Riaz and his executive management team.
Mr Suliman Paruk
Mr Suliman Paruk, who heads up the Tans-Africa's Kwa-Zulu Natal operation, believes in the value of honesty and good communication in building solid relationships with customers, employees and all potential associates and stakeholders. With this foundation, it is a matter of hard work and dedication to build a trusted brand and profitable business.
With his family in the transport industry, he realised the potential for efficient and reliable passenger services as a young man, but when he left school opportunities in the private transport were limited. He completed a B.Com Accounting, and in 1996 had plans to travel the world, but his father, whom he acknowledges as his role-model and mentor, encouraged him to take advantage of the transformation which was occurring in the sector.
As government contracts became available to private operators, the Paruk family won tenders in Vryheid, Newcastle, Richards Bay and Empangeni. His father was spending more time in Gauteng developing the business there, and left Suliman to 'do his own thing' in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Initially he faced the challenge of not being taken seriously because he lacked life experience, but he soon established a trustworthy reputation and has nurtured mutually beneficial relationships. A highlight was when the local government approached him to take over a failing service in Empangeni - testimony to the reputation he had developed and the trust and service record the company
had established. Under his leadership the company have acquired many accolades in various categories from the Department of Transport KZN.
Suliman is optimistic about the potential in the passenger transport area and had sucured preliminary bookings back in 2010 for the World Cup. He says, " This is a round the clock business. To succeed you passion and heart - its about the service and the difference you can make in the lives of commuters and not profit.