In 2012 our company CEO, Sue Hadcroft, won an award from the AfricaGrowth Institute. We believe she muct have really impressed them with the way our company has grown over a very short period because in 2013 the same organisation invited Sue to deliver a keynote speech at their 2013 award ceremony.
That speech went something like this:
“My name is Sue Hadcroft and I am a Director of Cubicle Manufacturing Solutions, a company that I co-own with my Husband, Alan. Our company manufactures toilet and shower cubicles, lockers and benches and I have been asked to share with you our success story.
I would just like to say that, like many of you in the room, I absolutely know what it is like to be sat here waiting for the announcements of the winners to tonights awards. Last year our company won Best New Business and it was an amazing feeling. Whether you have won an award tonight or not, as finalists you are absolutely all winners.
So, our journey, this started 4.5 very short years ago in 2009 when we set up our company and if you remember we were amidst the global economic crisis! Not dismayed by this we truly believed we had a product that had a niche in the market place, our toilet and shower cubicles offered design flexibility and was manufactured from different types of materials that no-one else offered. We set about showcasing our product to architects and designers up and down the country with gusto. The first two years, I seemed to permanently be planning my next business trip, whether it was an hours drive away from the office to Durban, or on a plane to Johannesburg or Cape Town or even to Botswana or Namibia. It was relentless. But we knew we had to get our product out there.
We also identified other marketing avenues such as online presence through a library system as well as our own very informative and up to date website. We made it a point of asking from everyone who enquired about our product how they had heard about us, it was important to know what channel of marketing was most effective.
We secured the services of a business mentor who has truly been our rock. He has guided us through the fog and the mire of business growth and advised us on every situation we have faced.
We soon realised that the banks would only ever be fair-weather friends. As a new company with no trading history, the only facility we were entitled to was a bank debit card, as I said we were in bad economic times.
But we stayed focussed, we managed to negotiate deposits on some projects, we even managed to buy R400,000 worth of essential machinery by giving our supplier post dated cheques. Never once did those monthly cheques not clear – we were determined.
After the first year, our business strategy plan seemed to have more substance, certainly as far as our bank was concerned, suddenly they too could see the potential of our business. They understood that we marketed to architects at concept stage so we were able to accurately forecast in advance where our business was coming from. Over the following two years, this became even more accurate. Today, I can list some projects that will come to fruition in 2015, a remarkable position to be in.
The bank could see we had a plan, they could see that in the first 9 months of trading, having turned over R1.9m, and having purchased, for cash, R400,000 worth of machinery, that we still made a profit. This was as at February 2010 – on the back of the economic downturn.
2010 saw us definitely benefit from the World Cup – plenty of building going on and let’s face it every building needs a toilet. Another successful year saw us turn over in excess of R5m. 2011 saw us introduce lockers and benches to our product range which has complemented our existing range and proved to be hugely successful and received well in the industry in light of the green movement and people adding showers and changing room facilities to offices for staff cycling to work.
2012 our turnover was just over R7m.
At the end of last year, after we won the AfricaGrowth Best New Business Award, I was awarded the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business Champion Entrepreneur award, and in June at the Regional Businesswoman’s Associations Awards again won the Entrepreneur category. Amazing success and recognition for everything we have achieved.
Yesterday I was a finalist at the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
All of these awards and accolades have been followed up with media coverage, locally within Pietermartizburg, throughout the province of KZN, nationally with interviews on radio and on-line magazine articles. All as a result of the recognition for our considerable achievements and most importantly, all have been free and all have generated new business.
Our company last year turned over R8m, and is on target this financial year to turn over in excess of R12m, all of which was part of our business plan and financial strategy. We have successfully secured specifications with multi-nationals including Engen Garages, Joshua Doore, African Bank, Virgin Active, FNB and Old Mutual as well as numerous universities including University of Pretoria, UCT, Wits, Stellenbosch, UKZN and UWC. All of these clients generate repeat business – all of which is results of our strong marketing strategies coming to fruition.
The journey has not always been easy, working very long days, often away from home, the financial pressures we experienced have made the road very bumpy. These continue even now as we try to facilitate our growth, but I am happy to say it is a far better position to be in as we build our business – nearly 5 years along we know we have what it takes to succeed.
So in summary, in sharing our success with you, our formula is quite simple, not rocket science and we haven’t reinvented the wheel. But also we absolutely recognise there has been an element of luck. Don’t disregard this in your business – make the most of every opportunity.
With our marketing, we researched the industry and recognised our potential. We identified effective marketing and sales channels on line and with role players such as architects and designers.
We never lost our focus – our passion and determination remained steadfast. We had to lead our company and our team so if we lost heart, how would that have affected them.
We planned our business effectively with regards to it’s marketing strategy, financial strategy and growth strategy.
Finally, no matter what we have faced we have always managed to have fun. Our team of staff are our biggest asset and we have recognised this throughout our years in business. So never forget to laugh with your team, smile and enjoy your journey and remember that getting the right balance between work life and home life is crucial.
And then to make it all worthwhile, we have been able to share our success and get recognition through organisations like AfricaGrowth, to hopefully inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow who will ensure the social development and economic growth of South Africa.
Thank you all for this opportunity to share our journey and I wish you all well for your continued success.”