Formex Industries is a renowned manufacturer and supplier of automotive components in South Africa. We have been a reliable partner for South African OEMs for decades. Part of our success is owed to our incredible management team. Mihlali Sogoni has been with Formex since 2019 in his capacity as the Commercial Executive.

Sogoni has recently been appointed to the National Elected Committee (NEC) of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM). The NEC is responsible for the strategic leadership decisions which affect all member companies of the association, including Formex Industries.

In his role at Formex, Sogoni has overseen the commercial team, including purchasing, sales and marketing, among other key business objectives across its divisions. Formex has two core product divisions; Pressing & Complex Assemblies and Tubing Manufacturing. The company is committed to world-class quality for all of its products and components. 

A robotic machine making Formex products in it's high-tech facility in Gqeberha

Who is Mihlali Sogoni?

Sogoni has a valuable history in the automotive industry – 27 years and counting, two decades of which were spent at Mercedes-Benz in South Africa and Germany. Sogoni was born in Mdantsane, East London, and completed his tertiary education in Mechanical Engineering at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

“I then later furthered my studies in advanced professional training and maintenance management at the Augsburg University of Applied Science,” he explains. “I can fluently speak isiXhosa, English, German and have a rudimentary command of Afrikaans,” Sogoni adds.

“Having gained new skills in my latest role as Commercial Executive at Formex Industries, I can claim to have done everything that is required to learn the auto industry. I have worked right through the automotive value chain from a stampings plant and running the most technologically advanced OEM body shop, to paint shop maintenance and assembly shop facilities planning,” he says. 

Sogoni actually started in IT and has even managed an IT department for a short stint and also helped to create start-up businesses. “I have worked as a shop-floor supervisor, as a projects engineer, an Operations Executive for an automotive OEM and now am an executive and director in the supplier sector,” states Sogoni.

He has a wealth of understanding of organisational strategies, the DTI strategy and various automated industries in SA, Germany, Hungary, Finland, China and the USA. Sogoni is confident in contributing towards sustainable solutions to Formex and the South African automotive industry.

Why he thrives in the automotive sector

Sogoni is a self-professed petrolhead. “I collect and work on cars myself, from a Series 1 Jag to an older V12 Merc. I actually break them more often than not and end up paying more for the repairs (my wiring skills have burnt one of the cars as well). These painful lessons have helped me in my professional career,” he says.

For nearly three decades, Sogoni has been navigating his way through the automotive sector in various capacities and several countries. “This industry has been my life for over 27 years, starting as a Mercedes-Benz South Africa bursary holder to almost every professional level and function, both in OEM and Tier 1 level,” he explains.

“I am a proper petrolhead and a technology enthusiast. I also grew up in an automotive town and was inspired by automotive worker role models. When I went to the only technical high school in my township, I had a book with Car and Drive magazine cut-outs and proudly told my teachers that I wanted to design cars.”

“I was immediately shot down and was told that I could never do that in South Africa. Guess what? 25 years later, I was part of a group of senior managers that contributed to the final shape and buildability of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. This industry can, indeed, be a catalyst to our country’s aspirations,” he states.

Formex and NAACAM

NAACAM is the voice of the South African automotive component industry, both domestically and internationally. Formex is a member of NAACAM and has benefitted in several ways from the association. As Commercial Executive, Sogoni had numerous engagements with the association before his appointment to the NEC. 

This allowed Formex to align its strategies and contribute more meaningfully to the industry. Alongside this association, Formex has built a reputation for excellence, innovation and reliability over the years. 

With state-of-the-art production facilities and equipment, as well as a team of skilled professionals, Formex has established itself as a trusted partner for local and international OEMs and suppliers in the automotive sector. South Africa manufactures just under 556 000 vehicles every year, generating R193-billion in new vehicle sales. 

Formex plays a core role in this industry, supplying automotive parts, completed assemblies and tubular products to various global automotive brands. Our long-standing relationships with direct and indirect customers are a testament to the company’s growth strategy and leadership.

Formex has invested over R140 million towards technology and manufacturing expansion projects. These upgrades have put us in a key position to respond to emerging export markets. As part of these investments, Formex installed a new 1600-tonne auto transfer press at the Struandale plant. 

Looking to the future, Sogoni highlights the need to continue investing in world-class technology in South Africa. “I would like us to realise that the technology gap between us and the rest of the automotive world has been vastly reduced by current disruptions and hence we should pool our resources and not just look to overseas OEMs for direction,” he says.

The sector is still growing, despite challenges created by load-shedding and supply chain logistics. Under the strong leadership of our managers, Formex is moving from strength to strength. For more information about our components and products, please contact us today.