Tom Cowan
Visionaries - 3 weeks ago

How a 27-Year-Old Tom Cowan Built a Major Oil & Gas Company in South Africa

At the age of 27, Tom Cowan became a figure to be reckoned with in the oil and gas industry. It was no easy task for the oil magnate to scale his firm – Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM). But now the business has 600 employees and is one of the renowned oil companies in South Africa.

EPCM Holdings specialises in planning and building pipelines and storage facilities for the  oil and gas business. Africa-wide, it has worked in South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana, South Sudan, and Ethiopia, to mention a few.

Tom Cowan attributed the company’s quick expansion partly to its willingness to work in places most people would consider too perilous, like South Sudan.

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Source: Africa Outlook Magazine

Tom Cowan’s early life 

Tom Cowan started out as an entrepreneur at a young age. “I suppose I drove my parents absolutely crazy when I was a kid. I was constantly engaged in a scheme of some kind, looking for methods to make money.” Cowan said in an interview with How We Made It in Africa.

In 2005, three months into his first year of engineering school at the University of Pretoria, he launched his first business.

After graduating, Cowan wanted to put his education to use and began working as a junior engineer at a consulting company. He hired someone to manage his clothing company.

However, his income as a junior engineer was pitiful compared to what he was earning from the clothing business.

Source: How we made it in Africa

Building EPCM

EPCM hasn’t always experienced calm waters. Early on, the company faced significant difficulties with cash flow since clients were slow to pay while expenses continued to increase.

Early involvement in potential initiatives is one of the business’s successful strategies. The firm took on some preliminary engineering design work for no charge.

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