Self-belief is the biggest ingredient for success

A successful entrepreneurial journey starts with a determined vision, a little bit of self-belief and faith in your own ability. According to Erina van Schalkwyk, owner of GEL Supply Chain and entrant of the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, this is the winning recipe for a thriving business and fruitful entrepreneurial adventure.

Erina and her husband, Gert, have had an exciting journey in the logistics sector over the last few years, and even more so recently with the opening of new successful businesses in 2015.

Inspired to support her family after her father’s unexpected death some 10 years ago, Erina started her first business, VS Logistiek – a brokerage business that transported bulk truck loads. She was at the time assisting her husband’s family business, which owned 27 trucks, but soon noticed an opportunity to turn her side-line business into a fully-fledged operation.

As with most entrepreneurial journeys, there were many ups and downs for Erina’s business. She credits her success to the experience she gained over her lifetime in the investment, banking, retail and logistics sectors.

In 2010, Erina and Gert relocated to his family’s farm outside Jacobsdal in the Free State. Here, Erina took over Gert’s role in his family’s logistics company and used her own business to manage the farming operations. Times however became tough for the family business, and in 2013 the couple decided to go on their own after Erina had identified a gap in the market for an intermediary between traders and transporters. By August 2013, the logistics business had a turnover of R 16 million.

In December 2014, the couple decided to change the trading name of their business to GEL (Gert Erina Logistiek) Supply Chain, and within just seven months of operating under the new brand, the successful entrepreneurial duo started another four businesses GEL Import and Export in South Africa, Gel Freddy’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, GEL Investments in Namibia and M3T2 in Rotterdam. The mother company, GEL Supply Chain, remains as successful as ever, and the ever-adventurous entrepreneurs are also gearing up to open their first coffee shop in Gobabis in Namibia by August of 2016.

Erina attribute’s her business’ good fortune to hard work, perseverance and her personal faith which she holds dear. “Our big break came in 2013 when a co-op in East Free State approached GEL Supply Chain to move a large quantity of grain. We were given eight weeks to complete the project, yet we handed over the final load in just six weeks,” recalls Erina.

“Last year, we were awarded a contract to transport 500 tons of imported maize into South Africa – by December, we had transported 8 900 tons in 67 hours. So far this year, we have already transported more than 10 000 tons of imported maize.”

Erina has big dreams for the future and is confident of achieving them. She aims to expand into Europe and the Americas in the export sector and also aims to contribute to society by partnering with various feeding schemes across rural Africa. On the logistics front, GEL Supply Chain’s next goal is to manage an entire 30 000 ton shipment of maize, and to become the leader in their field.

Commenting on the team of good people she keeps around her, in both a personal and professional space, including her teams of staff, Erina urges like-minded entrepreneurs to never fail to lead their teams: “When leading others, lead not to have followers but lead to have more leaders growing from your example.”

Her parting advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to continuously work hard and believe in yourself.

Leading player in SA’s animal health industry named as Innovator of the Year®

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Having noticed a gap in the local market to offer innovative services to clients who required customised health options for their animals, Lorimer Gowar, founder of Larrem (Pty) Ltd, a leading player in South Africa’s Animal Health industry, has been named Innovator of the Year® in the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, which was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 3 September 2014.

Established in 1999, Larrem (Pty) Ltd specialises in the manufacturing of veterinary nutriceuticals, pharmaceuticals, feed additives and supplements, as well as raw material commodity sourcing. Its mission is to implement quality, niche products required to enhance health, production and efficiency in animals, as well as to guarantee product safety to its customers, their livestock, consumers and the environment.

According to Kobus Engelbrecht, a member of the 2014 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judging panel, Larrem’s ability to create new, profitable products to solve the problems of his customers contributed towards the business being recognised as Innovator of the Year®.

“Gowar has the ability to innovate his product offering to solve the needs of his clients in such a way that he has been able to profit from them. His ability to get to the core of the problem and to apply his knowledge and skill to solve the problem stands out. His innovations also have a positive social impact.”

He adds that Larrem is one of a few veterinary manufacturing companies in South Africa with an innovative Food and Health Management System and the only one with ISO 22000 accreditation.

Gowar, who has extensive experience in the South African farming arena, says that innovation goes hand-in-hand with market research. He believes that the secret to being a successful entrepreneur is the ability to change according to industry needs, and that this is one of the strongest attributes of Larrem, and what has led to the business’ success.

He explains that through its unique structure, the business has the advantage of continuously evolving its product lines to suit the needs of the industry and its clients – something that many corporate companies are not able to do. “To stay on top of market trends, genetic modification and climate change, I am equipped to develop and manufacture products in a relatively short turn-around time. My innovative range of products illustrates this aspect comprehensively – Larrem is known for its adaptability to change,” says Gowar.

All products developed and manufactured by Larrem aim to increase an animal’s genetic potential and the company has also recently expanded its product offering to include natural (Ayurvedic) medication as an alternative to antibiotics and chemicals. Following the popularity of its products, Larrem now also distributes its products throughout Africa, including countries such as Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Gowar says that this award recognises the many years of dedicated work to all the processes and standards that Larrem has strived to achieve and present to its customers over the years. “It is also recognition for all the years of hard work to get to this stage. The experts in the different industries, from whom I have been learning for many years, will be delighted that their hours of patience in mentoring and aiding in all facets of my company’s divisions, has paid off.”

He adds that to be a part of such a prestigious award competition is the ultimate reward and motivation to his hard-working, dedicated staff. “With such a prestigious award, Larrem and its staff can grow taller, together,” concludes Gowar.

Visit www.larrem.co.za for more information on Larrem (Pty) Ltd.