By Tanya McClean
Following in their fathers’ footsteps but making sure they are leaving their own footprint.
That’s business owners, Mmatsatsi Rampa from the Sun Diverse Group which specialises in Line 5 wall coatings and waterproofing and Walter Jiyane who heads up automotive engineering company, Happy Hub, with his expertise in hydraulic pipes and hoses.
Rampa said her father started his business about 30 years ago, adding that when she and her sister were teens and first joined the family business, “he actually fired us because we couldn’t keep the rules. He told us to go and acquire some business skills,” she said.
After studying for a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation at Wits Business School, Rampa who is based in Gauteng, decided to specialise in waterproofing and wall coatings, such as gamazine, glamourcote and gamazine paint.
“It was tough, I had one child but I didn’t want to work in the corporate world any longer. That moment when I was making that decision, I was sitting in a car park and called my dad. He had confidence in me. He started when he was in his late 30’s, had kids and one month’s salary. He was my soundboard.
“What’s important to me is being able to grow his legacy and expand and show him what he taught me,” she said, adding that when she was 17 years old, her mother died.
“My mom was a nurse, but she would also do things like sell slippers at the hospital, but later joined the family business so I come from a family of entrepreneurs.
“As an entrepreneur, you don’t have the resources that big companies have, so you have to be able to identify opportunities, going out there and selling and finding new clients.
“You have three elements: service, price and quality and you have to identify the two elements that best suit you, even if that’s as a short-term strategy.
“I’m not running a sprint, I need to build the business gradually, I’ll allow it to grow like a baby and groom it. Your competitive advantage is not always your product, but your processes, getting the job done, widening the client base. I’m a tough customer and I ask myself – would I use this company?” she said.
In fact, Rampa said mind-conditioning has always been an important part of her recipe for success.
“I use affirmation and visualisation. If I find myself thinking negative thoughts, I make a quick positive affirmation. Everything you have, you have thought about, so if you want more, you must imagine more.
“You also have to choose your words carefully, use the words ‘this is a challenge’ to overcome difficulty instead of ‘I can’t do this’,” she said.
Meanwhile, Walter Jiyane from Happy Hub, which is an automotive engineering company based in Kwaggafontein in Mpumalanga also followed his father, who is a qualified motor mechanic with vast experience in hydraulic pipes and hoses. This has become a scarce and much sought-after skill in SA.
“I was born and raised in the automotive business. It all started there,” said Jiyane who originally wanted to concentrate on a rugby career, playing provincial rugby in the late 90s and early 2000s.
“But I was injury prone and in 2003, I enrolled at Technikon Pretoria to do accounting and finance. I worked in a financial institution and then for SAA cargo division, but this business manufacturing hydraulic pipes and hoses for heavy earth machinery was always at the back of my mind and I had always talked about it with my dad.
“My dad said people had to travel far to get this service and it was an opportunity. So, I took a package from my job when I had just turned 37,” he said.
Jiyane said most heavy earth machinery is not new, but that his father was right in that customers would travel over 50km or more to access their services.
“It was a transfer of skills between my dad and I. When I started, I would call and he would help me. Most of my clients own second hand machinery and the pipes need modifying, they know they can come to me for this. It’s rare to get a new machine,” he said, adding that listening carefully to what his clients want is crucial to his business.
Although his father has retired, he and his associates have opened an abattoir which also uses hydraulic pipes, which Jiyane said has also opened up new opportunities for Happy Hub, particularly in light of the Covid lockdown which has impacted the construction industry which uses heavy earth machinery.
“The road to success is not always smooth, there will always be ups and downs, but you just need to persevere and don’t despair when things appear to be difficult,” said Jiyane.