Celebrating growth

2014-11-12 00:00

LIBERTY Bolt and Nut celebrated the ownership of the transfer of its new premises in Greyling Street, Pietermaritzburg, this week.

Owner Ellouise Blessie said in an interview with The Witness that the day was significant, as it represents another significant expansion for a business that eight years ago had started trading from the veranda of her sister’s house.

For Blessie, the eight-year journey has been as difficult as it has been successful.

Originally from a manufacturing background — Blessie worked for eight years at Hulamin — she joined her sister Melanie to start Liberty Bolt and Nut.

Melanie had 22 years of trading in nuts and bolts as a background to start the business and she brought major clients into the new business from day one.

For Blessie, just adjusting to the retail environment from the manufacturing work that she had loved, proved a difficult transition that she only really overcame after a year.

“I cried many nights in that first year,” she said.

Liberty has a range of more than 4 000 products and supplies the structural steel, construction, manufacturing and engineering industries.

Many of its clients use the nuts and bolts to construct buildings and other engineering projects around the province, and even in other African countries. The company also supplies specialised bolts and nuts and can supply according to specification.

Melanie took ill last year and sadly died, leaving Blessie to run the business on her own.

“I was in the business the day after Melanie died … She wanted me to grow the business, but after a month I knew that I needed guidance.”

She joined the Howick-based business coaching company Action Coach, which she said “pushed us in the right direction”.

The company has been trading from its new address in Greyling Street for two months.

Blessie said the previous premises, also in Greyling Street, was rented, whereas the company owns the new property and there is enough space for it to expand by building additional storage buildings.

She said an initial drawback of the change of address was that the company lost the “walk-in” trade. This meant that the company has had to focus on getting new and bigger business clients.

She said the company had grown its turnover every month in the last year, barring the period during last year’s steel industry strike, when the firm’s major clients had to shut down during the protest.

“We broke even during that period, mainly from business from our smaller clients. We have learned to appreciate the small clients much more than we did,” she said.

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