When opportunity knocks, answer it

Winner of the 2011 Medium Entrepreneur of the Year® award

Being results-driven, setting achievable goals and loving what you do is, according to Troy Carelse, CEO of Foaming Concepts, the secret to running a successful business.

Troy CarelseFoaming Concepts is a manufacturing company that converts a product called flexible polyurethane, which is used as a raw material to produce premium bedding, lounge suites and office furniture. Started by CEO Troy Carelse in 2006, the company is situated in Wadeville, Johannesburg, and prides itself on quality workmanship, competitive pricing and lead time. ‘Foaming’ is attributed to the core of the business’s manufacturing activity and ‘Concepts’ refers to the business’s innovative way of producing flexible polyurethane foam and the manner in which it services its clientele.

Carelse studied towards a diploma in mechanical engineering and holds a business management diploma from the Henley Business School (UK). A qualified fitter and turner, he has been in the industry for approximately 13 years, and was previously employed as managing director at Loungefoam – a subsidiary of Steinhoff Holdings International. “I had seen an opportunity in the market that had not been targeted i.e. supply of flexible urethane to the independent manufacturers of bedding and lounge suites, as I felt they were being held ransom by existing suppliers due to the controlling market,” he explains. “This meant that certain buyers of flexible urethane such as Restonic, Serta, Simmons, etc. previously had to purchase this product from Vitafoam (a subsidiary of Steinhoff), and they also had to compete with companies such as Edblo and Sealy – also owned by Steinhoff. During my time at Steinhoff, I had felt that this arrangement was unfair and, when I saw an opportunity to set up a foam manufacturing company to service these independents, I grabbed it.”

According to Carelse, what makes Foaming Concepts unique in this industry is based on four important factors, namely:

Price – Because of our low overhead structure, we believe we can offer the most competitive price.

Lead time – Even with this lean team, we still have the ability to service customers within one to two day periods.

Quality – Our quality of the product is on par with the latest in Europe as our manufacturing equipment has been sourced abroad.

Innovation – We are actively involved with our customers by assisting them with re-engineering of their products and processes in order to achieve better efficiencies and costs in their businesses. “I firmly believe that in any successful company, your key asset is the stakeholders that support you and the relationships that you have with them. This includes employees, clients, suppliers and shareholders,” he reiterates.

Staying motivated

Carelse is happily married to his wife of 25 years, Ursula, and they have two sons: Dane and Grant. He creates a balance between his career and personal life by always setting aside time for his family when returning home from work. “My bonding time includes activities such as playing golf with my sons and socialising with friends and family. The strength that I draw from my family support system is what motivates and drives me.”

“Looking at myself,” he continues, “my advice to other business owners and entrepreneurs is the following: I think one has to be results driven and therefore setting realistic and achievable goals is important. A good business plan is key to any successful business.” He goes on to mention that developing the skill of problem-solving and decision-making will certainly lead to some success, as will the ability to communicate effectively. “Measuring and quantifying is vital – you cannot manage what you cannot measure – and good leadership qualities are also a necessity. One has to lead by example,” explains Carelse. “But over and above, I believe that a good value system such as honesty, accountability, commitment, loyalty and a positive attitude, also contributes toward success.”

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