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CTM joint venture partner
"If you look after the business, it will look after you."
Yushaa originates from the West Rand, Johannesburg. Before joining the Italtile Group, he worked for his father in his furniture manufacturing business. In 2005, Yushaa was appointed as a warehouse packer at CTM Westgate, advancing to the position of sales consultant. Six months later, he was promoted to assistant manager.
Yushaa explains that when he started working for the Group, he was simply looking for a job; that notion changed, however, when he saw all the opportunities for growth available in the Group. His ambition to have a job then transformed into building a career which would change his life.
In 2006, he was offered the opportunity to become a store manager at CTM Westgate and in 2008 he became a joint venture partner in the same store. Yushaa and his business partner were subsequently awarded a second CTM store, in Dobsonville. His responsibilities also expanded to include regional leadership.
For personal reasons, Yushaa elected to exit his partnerships and transferred to CTM Operations, where he was tasked with helping operators turn around the performance of their stores. He served in this role for 18 months before returning to CTM Westgate as a joint venture partner.
Yushaa has subsequently attained his dream of managing multiple stores, and today is a joint venture partner in three CTM stores in Mpumalanga: Witbank, Middelburg and Secunda.
Yushaa says that across the Company he has interacted with countless people with enormous commitment and passion for the business, reflecting the Group's inspiring performance-driven culture. He notes that every person working for the business is a partner in the business, and that each one is given the keys to the door of opportunity, but it is up to the individual to take the key and open the door. Yushaa confirms that joining the Group was a life-changing event, which afforded him the opportunity to grow and develop as an entrepreneur.
Hlombe was born in Willowvale, Eastern Cape, the third child in a family of seven. Her entrepreneurial spirit was inspired by her widowed mother, who was a nurse and a businesswoman. Hlombe started her early career as a teacher and later went on to complete a Bachelor's degree in Commerce, majoring in Accounting and Business Management. As a student, she dreamt of being an employer. Pursuing her goal to start a business, she opened a book shop, which enabled her to make use of her teaching experience, but it did not provide the challenge she was hoping for. She later opened a hardware store and then decided to seek out a franchise opportunity in the same line of business. This led her to CTM, and signing a franchise agreement in 1994. When their first store opened in Umtata in 1997, Hlombe and her husband were CTM's first African franchisees and she was the first black female manager.
"I believe in leading by example. Being hands-on leads to trust, and to results being achieved."
In 2017, when the store celebrated its 20th anniversary, the Group Chairman wrote in his congratulatory note, "I thought it was a risk for Hlombe and for CTM, but I felt that I was dealing with the right person and I felt comfortable with the decision. Hlombe has proved her loyalty and dedication - and she is still the right person and I am still comfortable."
Hlombe remembers how difficult working conditions were in the original store. They could not use a forklift inside the store as the building was neither designed nor built for CTM. The alternative was manual labour - and they had only three staff members. This meant that she had to wear many hats: director, manager, display adviser, cashier and general cleaner. After the new store was opened in 2001, sales improved and have continued to grow over the years.
In her business, Hlombe has placed her focus on people development, providing her employees with opportunities for training and skills development. In return, her staff have won several accolades at Group awards ceremonies, including the Best Performing store in their category and the Best Stock Turn award for three years in succession.
Hlombe says she particularly enjoys working under the leadership of the Group CEO, who has been a great source of joy and inspiration. She also notes that the opportunities afforded by the Group to travel internationally and learn from other countries have taught her not to waste the chances one is given.
As a leader, Hlombe says, she has learnt the importance of being transparent, being humble and treating everyone the same. She adds that she would not have attained her goals without the guidance of God.
ITALTILE RETAIL JOINT VENTURE PARTNER
Erik grew up in Polokwane and after matriculating in 2002, moved to Johannesburg, where he was employed by a retail grocery chain until 2010. He joined Italtile Retail later that year, working at the Pretoria store as a sales consultant, where he was personally mentored by the joint venture partner. Thereafter, he was transferred to the Boksburg store, joining the team to launch the new showroom.
Subsequently, Erik moved to Italtile Retail Bryanston, and after gaining two years of experience as a sales consultant, he was appointed as an assistant manager. Eight months later, he was promoted to branch manager. Under his conscientious leadership, the store has won awards for Best Performing and Best Presented showroom in the country. After three years in his position, Erik was appointed as a joint venture partner of the store, a position he holds today.
Erik says his journey at Italtile Retail has been both challenging and rewarding. He explains that it was a tough road to walk, but he knew what he wanted to achieve and every morning when he woke up, he reminded himself of his goals and targets.
"To be the best, I had to learn from the best."
"Working at Italtile has made me stronger, more confident, and offered me lots of opportunities to grow and learn. I was fortunate to have the guidance of Sergio Galli, Italtile co-director, to support me in making the right decisions. It is through his mentorship that I managed to achieve my success. I learnt from the best."
Erik says he has learnt that to grow a business you must grow people, because motivated employees perform at higher levels. He also advises that in the art of negotiation, inevitably there is a solution to every problem; he believes the answers may not be easy to find, but they are always there if you look carefully enough.
The Group's customer-focused philosophy is summed up in Erik's belief that it is important to give clients an unforgettable experience in terms of service and advice, because service drives sales.
THULANI MNGADI AND MORNE DU PLESSIS
TOPT KWAZULU-NATAL FRANCHISE PARTNERS
Thulani was raised in Inanda, a township adjacent to KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal. He was the last born in a family of six children. Thulani's parents had very limited means, so his poverty-filled childhood was a constant fight for survival. Despite his early struggles, Thulani prioritised education and through sheer determination completed his Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Social Anthropology at Wits University.
"If anyone ever thinks that dreams don’t come true, I say look at me."
He joined Ceramic Industries as an internal sales coordinator in 2004, whereafter he was promoted to external sales consultant, a position he held for four years, before serving as a sales agent in KwaZulu-Natal for almost eight years. While at Ceramic Industries, Thulani won the Company's Tracy Memorial Award for Best Customer Service, and believes that hard work and dedication will always be rewarding, both professionally and personally.
Thulani says that working in the Group ignited a spirit of leadership that he did not know existed in him and he has learnt how to cultivate the individual excellence of his team members in order to achieve success for the business. He also notes that he strives to be multiskilled and flexible because the business is fast paced and highly competitive. Thulani says he decided early in his life that he would not let his poor background determine his future; his inspiration comes from his desire to become something better than what he saw around him while growing up.
Morne grew up in Durban and completed his National Diploma in Marketing at Natal Technikon. After graduating, he joined the Italtile Group in 1997. In the 22 years he has been with the Company, he says he is fortunate to have been mentored by some of the best business minds in the Group and attributes much of his professional and personal growth to the guidance he has received.
"As a Group, we are results driven and passionate about every brand which we represent."
Morne's career has progressed from architectural sales consultant at Italtile Retail, Durban, a position he held for four years, to branch manager, and then joint venture partner at Italtile Retail, Umhlanga for 11 years. Morne states that working in the Group has been an exceptionally rewarding experience, giving credence to the adage: "Hard work pays off". He says that the key to his success has been Italtile's distinctive culture of recognising and rewarding the good performance and achievements of individuals in the business. He also has great respect for the Company's unwavering commitment to integrity.
Thulani and Morne's partnership
Thulani and Morne met in 2008 while Thulani was working as an agent at Ceramic Industries and Morne was a joint venture partner at Italtile Retail, Umhlanga. Between 2008 and 2016 they enjoyed a good supplier-customer relationship and as time went on, their mutual respect grew. After several years of holding discussions about the possibility of becoming partners, the pair formalised their relationship with a franchise partnership in TopT, KwaZulu-Natal in 2016.
They explain that they have the same business ethic, and took time getting to know each other before becoming partners, which created good synergy between them. The pair believes that for a partnership to be successful, one must be able to work through any challenges that arise. Morne and Thulani note that when two people from different cultural and business backgrounds come together, it presents complex dynamics. Both parties will probably have different views, but, they say, partnerships work when you can compromise and align final decisions with the mutual end-goal. For Thulani and Morne, it has helped to have different strengths which they have successfully combined to the advantage of the business. Significantly, they both highlight the importance of having a high degree of integrity.
The partners believe that their mutual respect, coupled with genuine commitment to their business, forms the basis of their thriving franchise partnership. Their advice to prospective partners is to respect each other, trust each other, and never waiver in your dedication to the business.