Sales through the roof

2013-08-29 00:00

CUBICLE Manufacturing Solutions owner, Sue Hadcroft, has quadrupled its turnover in only its third full financial year of trading, and the company is still growing strongly.

The Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Award finalist, one of only two from KwaZulu-Natal in this year’s competition, has become a market leader in the manufacturing sector since it was established in 2009.

The company specialises in making toilet and shower cubicles suitable for public spaces. Since last year, it has expanded to include the manufacture of lockers and benches.

The head office and manufacturing operations are based in Pietermaritzburg, but due to the need to expand, a factory was established in Cape Town last year that does mainly assembly work, and a sales office was opened in Johannesburg.

“The thought of starting a business during the global financial crisis was daunting, but we had a passionate belief in the product.

“That’s what carried us through the uncertainty of the time,” she said in an interview with The Witness.

Her husband, Alan, is the technical director of the company.

“In the beginning, we had no idea of the success we would achieve,” she said.

Hadcroft targets the commercial building sector and works with other suppliers to supply solutions for building and renovation projects. The business also often works with architects and designers throughout South Africa.

The company has supplied products to Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Swaziland, and recently won a contract to supply cubicles for Kigali International Airport in Rwanda.

Hadcroft said their target is to increase turnover by 40% this year, compared with 12% growth last year, due to some big projects that the company is participating in, and anticipation of improving trading conditions.

The company is also investing in new equipment, “to build a solid base when the boom comes”, she said.

Because the company deals with architects and project designers who need to plan for up to two years in advance, she is usually able to assess accurately how much work Cubicle Manufacturing will be able to do in a year or two.

She said that their competitive strengths include the durability of the product and the level of service that is provided. The company combines design flexibility, affordabillity and tailor-made solutions over a fast turnaround time.

She attributes her success as an entrepreneur to her business skills and a flair for entrepreneurial development. Hadcroft was a business manager for a media company before she started Cubicle Manufacturing.

She was also previously a store manager at Marks & Spencer in the UK.

She said that working with one’s husband in the same business is “not always plain sailing”, but fortunately, they bring complementary skills to the business, with her in charge of sales and marketing, while he is in charge of production.

Cubicle Manufacturing Solutions was awarded the Best New Business 2012 Award at the Africa Growth Institute’s annual 2012 Africa Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) awards, which are open to entrants across the African continent.

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