Baking success one pie at a time

2014-08-15 00:00

JOHAN Kilian and Lukas Loots, partners who own a number Pie City stores in Pinetown and Richards Bay, are finalists for the 2014 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition.

Kilian said in an interview yesterday that although he had always wanted to be in his own business, to the point of buying and selling second-hand cars while working at Transnet, in between shifts.

They currently own 14 stores and two factories after starting with four outlets and one factory in 2002.

Killian said it was challenging to take their retirement funds and invest it in a business that may or may not succeed.

The started building their pie empire with four outlets and one factory store in 2002.

Pie City has been in business for almost 20 years, and was nominated for five consecutive years as one of the top brands in the Ipsos Markinor/Sunday Times Top Brand Survey.

Kilian said aspiring entrepreneurs should consider going the franchise route, because consumers had become terribly brand conscious.

He cited as example his experience where a competitor pie shop had opened nearby and offered pies at half the price he was selling at, yet the business would fail as customers were loyal to the Pie City brand.

The South African franchise concept produces its own range of meat pies, fresh fruit juices and pizzas from scratch.

While employed by the parastatal, Kilian and Loots also owned five taverns and liquor stores in the Durban CBD area which they managed in between shifts.

They became involved with the Pie City brand after doing extensive industry research, and once they had compared Pie City to other local fast-food companies in the country they knew that the brand was the right franchise for them.

Johan said they were terrified of leaving the railways and a stable salary to become full-time entrepreneurs, as they realised only a very small number of individuals reach success as an entrepreneur in their own right.

He said the business’s recipe for success is based on hard work, a good relationship with his partner, enthusiasm, patience, people skills, determination and honesty, and most support from staff.

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