Meet a Mastercam Reseller in South Africa: Q&A with AMP CNC Academy

In Brakpan, South Africa, Lodewyk Jansen van Vuuren and Stephen Du Preez started AMP CNC Academy in 2019 to fight the decline in South Africa’s manufacturing industry. As its name suggests, AMP was designed as an educational program for high school graduates interested in the trades. The program itself relies heavily on the powerful combination of Mastercam and SOLIDWORKS®.

Having used Mastercam for more than twenty years, van Vuuren was quick to see the advantage in becoming a Mastercam Reseller in South Africa as well, and now AMP has industrial clients all over the country. AMP has exploded to have multiple locations and is opening another near Cape Town to serve its countless clients in the aerospace, military, general engineering, and oil and gas industries. We sat down with van Vuuren to find out the secret to AMP’s success.

Q: What services do you offer?

A: We are dedicated to putting young people back into the trades. We are currently the only group that works with students in high school. We introduce CAD/CAM into schools well before students even enter our education program, and they can take their practical exams right at our facility. Our three-and-a-half-year education program incorporates Mastercam and SOLIDWORKS together as a really powerful learning platform that our students are fully capable of using once they graduate the course. We like to take our students through not a simulation, but an actual production business in our CNC shop, where they make products for real customers. Once they’ve earned their qualifications, they’re prepared to go work in any shop designing and machining parts.

We are also a full industrial Reseller, too. Training is a huge part of what we do. We have many industrial clients that send their operators to us for machine training, Mastercam training, and SOLIDWORKS training. We help take those guys to the next level, whether it’s machining or programming. We go over how to approach jobs, how to approach machining, how to work with the different cutting tools, and so on.

But it’s not just training. We also assist customers with projects they’re not quite capable of doing themselves. We have one client who can’t do a job because he just doesn’t have the right machines. He subcontracted it out to us so that we could help him.

Q: What is the latest or most exciting customer application you have?

A: I’ve got so many exciting customers! The ones that come to mind, though, are the ones in motorsports. We help them implement techniques and machine some really cool parts. Without giving away too much, we are helping a customer who has landed contracts with Ducati, producing their carbon fiber mags to implement advanced 5-axis machining on their molds.

Q: What’s your favorite feature in Mastercam?

A: Off the top of my head I would say Stock Model. I use that all the time, especially on surface machining and multiaxis projects. I cannot imagine life without that.

Q: What are some challenges you find that are unique to your region?

A: For us, the biggest challenge is our exchange rate. It makes for a difficult sale sometimes when we have these new companies just starting up that might want the cheapest options. We really want to help them, so we try to explain that you get what you pay for. We know that the cheapest software isn’t necessarily the one with the best value, so it’s a matter of explaining that to the customer.

Q: What are some of the opportunities?

A: There are a lot of opportunities at the moment. We started this all to stimulate the manufacturing industry in South Africa. International imports, especially those from China, have really undercut our local manufacturing. There is a ton of potential for growth here. We’re trying to overcome that decline, and I think we’re doing pretty well so far.

Q: What are some unique issues that you can solve as a local support hub for Mastercam?

A: AMP wants to have the best relationships with our customers as possible and being close to them lets us do that. We are presenting ourselves as a value-added software supplier rather than a company that just sells software and then disappears. People buy from people, not from a company. We’re able to be very involved with our clients and spend a lot of time with them all. What we like to do is send an expert machinist to a company to assist them with whatever problem they may have instead of just emailing or calling. All the clients we’ve collected over the years, they have a lot of trust in us. We pride ourselves on the relationship there. They’re like family.

Q: Do you sell any other products besides Mastercam?

A: We also sell SOLIDWORKS, which works well with Mastercam, and we like showing customers how well they complement each other.