2012 winner, William Duk, takes his business to new heights


In light of the recent launch of the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, which aims to honour, benefit and uplift local entrepreneurs, William Duk of Plantation Shutters and overall 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year, shares his experiences and discusses how his participation in the competition is still having a positive impact on his business.

Duk says that winning the award was a very powerful affirmation and acknowledgement of all the hard work that everyone in the business had put it over the six year period since reviving Plantation Shutters. “There was an extra degree of pride or confidence that suddenly everybody had, based on the credibility that something like this award brings. This, for me, was and has been the most significant aspect of the award.”

Duk’s entrepreneurial success began with a classic stroke of luck. He was in the process of purchasing an industrial building just outside of Cape Town when he stumbled upon a small bankrupt company operating within the premises, and in the spur of the moment, made the decision to take over the business.

Within five years of purchasing Plantation Shutters, a business that designs, manufactures and installs adjustable window and door shutters, Duk doubled the work force and increased its turnover tenfold. The various positive spin-offs from winning the competition has ensued a further 30% growth for the business in 2013, resulting in Plantation Shutters being closer to a R50 million business.

“The credibility of the award has had a positive impact in offering peace of mind to clients choosing to work with Plantation Shutters. When clients are parting with a 50% deposit for a premium product, the award further endorses their purchasing decision, which is definitely a good thing.”

He says that the publicity that the award generated for his business has also provided much more than any marketing budget could have ever achieved.

Apart from Plantation Shutters becoming a thriving business, another business opportunity presented itself to Duk a few months after the winning the competition which enabled him to maximise the mentorship programme which formed part of his prize. The mentorship opportunity enables entrepreneurs to seek valuable advice from a business leader in a similar industry in order to further develop and drive their business.

This new business opportunity presented itself when Duk was approached a couple of years earlier to assist value a business that supplies valves to the mining and related industries across Africa. While a buyer was found, this deal fell through towards the end of 2012 and presented Duk with the opportunity to purchase the business himself.

One of the hurdles to this opportunity was that the business was turning over well in excess of R100 million and the sellers wanted R35 million. “I didn’t have a cent spare cash as I was still busy paying the original founding partner in Plantation Shutters, who I bought out two years ago. I also didn’t particularly want an equity partner as that would have been a very expensive path.”

This predicament resulted in Duk contacting Business Partners Limited to claim his mentorship package, in order to obtain guidance on how best to raise capital. “While the amount needed was outside of Business Partners non-equity based lending criteria, I was put in personal contact with FNB who are very aggressive in the debt based leveraged financing space. Only 10 days later I put in an offer for R35 million which was accepted subject to due diligence, which was primarily around being able to raise the money.”

Duk says that there is no doubt that winning the award in 2012, combined with the favourable turnaround of Plantation Shutters, is what provided the credibility required to raise the cash.

With Duk’s entrepreneurial journey beginning in 2007 when he purchased Plantation Shutters, a then R3 million business, for one Rand, Duk today owns a group of companies with turnover approaching R200 million, with only organic growth and debt based financing along the way.

Determined to succeed


Western Cape promotions company owner awarded Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year® award

Tabisa Nomnganga of Bravo Promotions was awarded the 2012 Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title in the annual Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® Competition.

Tabisa claimed the title over three other worthy finalists in the 2012 Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year® category, which celebrates entrepreneurs who have been in business for less than three years.

According to Tabisa, this award proves that through determination and hard work, small businesses can overcome the many obstacles that they face during the initial stages of starting a business.

Established in November 2009, Bravo Promotions is a vibrant and energetic marketing and communications agency that sets itself apart by specialising in the design and implementation of branded entertainment communication strategies and campaigns. Targeted campaigns focus on exposing their client’s brand to potential customers through dance and theatre performances, thereby ensuring that not only are the brand and products are acknowledged, but that they are remembered.

The company’s unique approach to marketing provides a platform for brands to interact and connect with their target audience in a manner which traditional media is unable to provide. “The key principle of the business is brand engagement and this is achieved by building exciting, relevant and meaningful dialogues between a brand and its customers,” says Tabisa.

According to Kobus Engelbrecht, a member of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® judging panel, Tabisa impressed the judges with her ability to recognise an opportunity and turn that into a profitable business. “She is providing an innovative new marketing channel for major brands to reach their target market.”

For more information on Bravo Promotions, please visit their website www.bravopromotions.co.za

Making eco-friendly an award winning idea


Green businessman claims small business entrepreneur of the year® award

Warren Graver, founder and director of Envirodeck, an industry leader in environmentally conscious and sustainable decking products, was awarded the 2012 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title in the annual Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® Competition.

This year’s competition saw 12 finalists qualify for the 2012 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year® category, which celebrates entrepreneurs who, irrespective of the duration the business has been active, posted a business turnover of R20 million or less in the 2011 tax year.

Due to the increasing demand on natural resources and the growing awareness to safely dispose of or re-use non-biodegradable waste, Warren saw an opportunity in the market for a practical alternative solution to timber in the decking sector.

Fast forward eight years and today Envirodeck supplies environmentally sustainable decking and finishing products, as well as tangible solutions for customers across South Africa and Namibia. As a result of the phenomenal market growth in Southern Africa, Envirodeck is now also expanding into Angola, Botswana, Nigeria and Mozambique over the next five years.

Warren attributes his entrepreneurial success to intense research and product sourcing. He says that research continues to fuel the business as innovative technology is constantly growing and evolving within the industry. Another one of Envirodeck’s strengths is partnering with like-minded and professional business partners who share the same passion and energy for the industry.

According to Dr Kerrin Myres, a member of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judging panel, Envirodeck stood out amongst the other finalists for many reasons. “Warren is riding the wave of the green movement in South Africa, something that only a handful of entrepreneurs are doing right now. Using a high quality raw material, he creates original outdoor products with flair and great design. Envirodeck is a business with a great future.”

For more information on Envirodeck, please visit their website www.envirodeck.co.za

Staying ahead of the game proves rewarding

Western Cape plumbing business owner awarded Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® award

Founder and owner of plumbing business, Trevor Davids of Trevor Davids Plumbing, was awarded the 2012 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® title in the annual Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® Competition.

trevorJudges of the competition awarded the 2012 Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® to Trevor due to his vast business knowledge and his positive approach to remain at the forefront of the industry’s technological advancement which also helps him to be both more effective and efficient.

Trevor Davids Plumbing has been trading since 1993 and primarily provides a broad range plumbing services to the construction industry in the Western Cape. Over the years the business has established itself as one of the largest Level 1 BEE plumbing contractors and is a preferred service provider for many large construction companies due to its capacity, proficiency with large projects and constant high quality workmanship.

Since obtaining finance from Business Partners in 2002, Trevor has more than doubled sales and increased profits considerably and currently provides work for 140 employees.

Due to its small, cost effective infrastructure the business has managed to service both large construction companies and individual homeowners at the same time. The business has lent its services to larger organisations such as Murray & Roberts, Stefanutti Stocks, Granbuild, New Age Property Developers and many more.

According to Trevor, his success has developed as a result of building and maintaining long-term relationships with new and existing clients and due to the fact that the company strives to deliver value to clients by continuously reinvesting in the business, not only investing in the best modern equipment available, but by also ensuring that they remain at the forefront of the market.

According to Stefan Beyers, a member of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judging panel, Trevor is a tradesman who built his business through hard work, dedication, tireless effort and continuous learning. “His sound business management skills as well as his knowledge of the industry have enabled him to develop the successful business he has today.”

International acclaim for innovative animation


Western Cape animation studio owner awarded Innovator of the Year

Business owner, Stuart Forrest of Triggerfish Animation Studios, has been recognised for his entrepreneurial excellence and innovative business skills by being awarded the 2012 Innovator of the Year award in the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® Competition.

According to Dr Kerrin Myres, a judge of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® awards, Triggerfish is the obvious choice for the Innovator of the Year® award. “Stuart has created a world-class animation business at the leading edge of digital arts, and we anticipate that this business will inspire a host of spin-offs in gaming and related areas. This is an entrepreneur who has seized an opportunity to create an industry.”

Triggerfish was started in 1996, and spent the first 10 years producing animation for commercials and Sesame Street. The animation studio has recently completed its first feature film, Adventures in Zambezia, which is being screened across approximately 70 countries and has also received international acclaim by being screened at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market. Triggerfish are already working on their second feature film titled Khumba, which is scheduled to be completed in 2013, and is expected to surpass the success of Adventures in Zambezia.

According to Stuart, bringing on the right partners and staying committed to the business’s vision despite all the setbacks and challenges is what has made Triggerfish the success that it is today. He says that although the business’s core hasn’t changed at all, it has stayed flexible and kept looking forward at future trends throughout the years, which has ensured that they are still a key player in the vibrant South African animation industry.

He believes that the business’s animation skills are world class and envisions Triggerfish being a major global player in the media and entertainment industry in the next decade by producing original material that has a unique African voice and touch.

For more information on Triggerfish, please visit their website www.triggerfish.co.za

From new ground springs new growth


Eastern Cape female farmer named as Job Creator of the Year 2012

Madelé Ferreira of Mooihoek Boerdery has been named the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® Job Creator of the Year. Awarded for her incredible ability to adapt and effectively thrive in a previously unfamiliar industry, Madelé’s business has grown from a few hundred plants in 1998 to a multi-million rand farming enterprise today.

The business was started on a small scale when Madelé initially began farming on land that she leased from her husband. Today, the business produces spinach, leeks and strawberries on a 40 ha farm in the Gamtoos Valley in the Eastern Cape and supplies the distribution centres of three of South Africa’s leading chain store groups, namely Spar, Pick ‘n Pay and Shoprite / Checkers / Freshmark. Madelé currently employs 90 employees at Mooihoek Boerdery.

The farm also currently delivers strawberries to chain stores and markets in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Port Elizabeth.

Madelé says that Mooihoek Boerdery started as a little girl’s dream of one day marrying a farmer and later evolved into a dream of empowering the working women on the farm. She says that building and maintaining relationships is one of the most important elements of her business as her suppliers, employees and clients are the lifeblood of the business.

She attributes her faith and determination to continually better her business brought her into contact with role players that enhanced, empowered and provided her with the necessary knowledge she needed in the fields of production methods, irrigation and good business practices.

According to Kobus Engelbrecht, a member of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year ® judging panel, Madelé stood out amongst her competition because of the number of jobs she created in a rural area where unemployment is rife. “Not only did she create a sustainable business, but she also provides employment to people who otherwise would only have contributed towards the unemployment number.”