Inspirational people of KwaZulu-Natal

Inspirational people of KwaZulu-Natal


Reflecting on the “Inspirational People of KwaZulu-Natal” interview conducted a few years ago featuring Mark Sykes, our General Manager at NBI. We take great pride in having a dedicated management team and employees who are deeply committed to their roles and their local community. 

Read the complete (updated) feature article below:

Currently I am the General Manager for National Braiding, which is based at Loskop in the Drakensberg area.  This is a very remote region and we provide employment for +/-100 local community members.  The only other manufacturer here is Bata Footwear behind us, so employment opportunities in the industrial sector are not abundant.

I grew up in Howick, so the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is in my blood.  My career path took me to Johannesburg for a while, but I returned to KwaZulu-Natal in 2001 and joined the SA Bias Group in Estcourt in 2003.  SA Bias is an international organisation with operations in South Africa, Europe and Australia.  Our head office is based in Cape Town.

Being firmly entrenched in this rural community for many years takes our role beyond just braiding. 

We have purchased the land next door and set up a creche for the children of our employees and those from Bata Footwear.  We have sponsored all costs and ad hoc requirements for this facility.  Through our sister company Narrowtex in Estcourt, the group has also built an extra classroom, with 25 PCs and software, to establish an IT facility at a local school.

Furthermore, we take in 10 to 15 young people on a one-year internship programme that provides them with a formal qualification in weaving and braiding.  We started out predominantly in the production of shoelaces for Bata Footwear, but we have expanded our range to include ropes and cords.  The group also exports to Australia and the African continent.  We are also exploring the production of new high-tech products.

My wife is a teacher and, together with our two children, we enjoy the tranquillity of the Midlands.  There is no hustle and bustle here, just a 20-minute scenic drive to and from work each day and the added pleasure of having the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains on our doorstep.

NBI Specialised IRATA membership



Exciting news! We’re delighted to share that we’ve achieved official associate membership status with the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA). IRATA is a globally recognized organization dedicated to upholding industry standards and ensuring safety in the field of industrial rope access. At NBI Specialised, we’re proud to be affiliated with such a prestigious authority in our profession #IRATA #SafetyFirst #ProudMember #AccessRope

Introducing the new NBI Specialised Dynamic Rope



We’re excited to share that our NBI Specialised Rope range has expanded! Our latest addition is the 10.5mm dynamic rope, made with a nylon outer and high elongation nylon inner composition.

The rope provides a dynamic elongation of 28.5%, fall arrest impact of 10.7N, and tensile strength of 2152 Kg. These excellent performance capabilities make it the reliable choice.

Our speciality ropes are rigorously tested to ensure they meet the highest safety standards and are suitable for use in a variety of applications. Our dynamic rope is CE certified to meet EN 892:2012 standards.  We are committed to continue providing our customers with the best quality ropes that are reliable, durable and safe. 

For more information, visit our Access Ropes webpage.

Starting today, so children can have a better tomorrow.


Children’s work is their play. They learn from everything that they do. They grow learning.

National Braiding is committed to inspiring education and a better future for their staff, the community and their children. It is for this reason that the General Manager, Chris Fell, initiated the creche and daycare centre adjacent to the factory premises and agreed to provide support to another community based crèche.

It is especially convenient for the NBI staff to drop their kids off on their way to work, knowing that they will be safe and secure whilst they can put in a worry free day at work. The care-givers oversee the learning program and supervise the kid’s activities and take care of their general needs during the time at the crèche.

The crèche is not limited to the NBI staff member’s children but also accommodates other kids living in the area with working parents. The crèche allows parents peace of mind and the kids love the daily experience of learning, playing and meeting friends, as you can see on their very happy faces…

NBI also helps support another community based crèche nearby. The children spend their days in a safe and secure environment, close to their parents. And they get to have an awesome day, playing, learning, and being happy.