“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish”
In 2017 I will be celebrating 30 years of being in business. From humble beginnings in a company called Adjo Instruments in 1987 to today in Major Tech. There have been some ups and downs but overall it has been a fantastic journey, it was the best lesson I could have had as when we started I was only 26 years of age. When we launched Adjo, our primary objective was to sell electrical test and measuring instruments under the brand name Robin as well as electronic instruments under the brand GW (Good Will Instruments from Taiwan). Our aim was to set up a proper distribution network throughout Southern Africa, as I did not have the finance to employ sales staff, let alone pay myself and my partners a salary. We had to scratch everywhere in order to make ends meet. The first six to nine months, I worked between 18 to 20 hours a day.
We started importing these products from the UK, Japan and Taiwan, and the most difficult problem was that we had to fund these imports. We had to pay up front for all our shipments, and finance our debtors as we had to offer all companies credit facilities. They were definitely trying times, but it was fun and rewarding to penetrate the South African market with our new brands. My best was that when we air freighted the goods in, which generally arrived on a Sunday, I would be helped by Greg Davies from WTC forwarders who was also a new kid on the block. We would pack our cars and drive to our building in Nugget Street, Johannesburg. I would immediately start invoicing the stock so that I could deliver them first thing on Monday morning.
The business grew and we started employing sales staff in Johannesburg. We launched our first branch in Durban in June 1991. This created a problem for my opposition, who decided to discount the Kyoritsu products (some of the Robin were manufactured by Kyoritsu) in order to try and shut us down in the natal region. We were left with some choices, either close the branch down or approach the market from a different angle.
I would encourage this experience and journey to anyone who has the Will Power, Driveand Tenacity to start their own business. Sometimes you have to believe in yourself, and ensure you can let your enthusiasm rub off onto your customers. I was always taught, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”and I can vouch for that. If you do it on your own, nobody can take the experience and glory of achievement away from you.
Next week I will continue with our history and what we did to change our market.