Supply Chain Executive
CTM and U-Light franchisee
CTM Brand Leader & equity partner
COO, Ceramic Industries
Supply Chain Executive
Tees started her journey with the Group as a student at the Italtile Retail store in Durban in 1998. In 2000, she accepted a permanent position in sales and in 2004 she was appointed Assistant Manager at the Italtile Retail store in Edenvale.
Pursuing further growth within the Group, Tees moved to CTM Centurion in 2006 as Assistant Manager.
In 2008 she was offered the opportunity to join the CTM Operations team. Tees recalls that these were among the best years of her journey at Italtile. "I was pushed to my full potential." Her initial role was to formalise internal controls and systems for the CTM stores, which evolved into an internal audit function. Her role subsequently comprised a range of responsibilities in the Operations division. She relished the variety of experience that the position offered and the extensive knowledge she gained about business. Tees notes that she particularly valued the trust and empowerment afforded to her, which she says encouraged her to excel beyond boundaries and to strive for continuous improvement.
In 2013 she was appointed as joint venture partner at the CTM Umhlanga store, where she was able to put her operational experience into practice, turning an under-preforming store into a success over the next two years.
In 2015, Tees took on the role of heading up the Business Optimisation ("BMO") Implementation project.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the success of the Group, Tees was awarded the Group's Aquilifier Award in 2016.
In 2017, Tees was appointed CTM Brand Leader and enjoyed every minute of it. "I worked with incredible people and am very grateful for all the support received from everyone that I worked with during that time."
In 2019, Tees started her career in the Supply Chain division, heading up the Integrated Supply Chain and BMO department, and is looking forward to the exciting, challenging times which this position entails. She is currently completing her Certified Supply Chain Professional ("CSCP") qualification through the American Production and Inventory Control Society.
Celebrating her twenty-second year with the Group, Tees says she could not have asked for a better career path. She considers herself to be lucky and greatly appreciates the support and guidance of all of her mentors.
Tees says that at the age of 40, she has achieved many of her life goals. "I firmly live by understanding the opportunity – and then working hard towards achieving the opportunity."
CTM and U-Light franchisee, KwaZulu Natal
Grant was born in Pinetown, KwaZulu Natal, where he has spent most of his life. While studying towards a National Diploma in Marketing at Technikon Natal, he obtained a student job at the Italtile Retail Centre in Point Road in 1993. On graduating, the Company offered him full-time employment in a sales position.
This was a very successful period for Grant, both professionally and personally. He excelled in sales and won the Italtile Retail Salesman of the Year award in 1997; it was also the year he married his wife, Maria. The branch went on to win the Store of the Year award three times and Grant was promoted to Assistant Manager. He subsequently transferred to the Italtile Retail store in Pretoria, where he held the position of Branch Manager. During this time, the store performed very well and won the Store of the Year and Largest Profit Contribution awards.
In 2000, Grant and Maria decided to start a family and returned to Durban, where their daughters Jessica and Christine were subsequently born. In making this move, the decision was taken to leave Italtile Retail and accept the opportunity as a CTM franchisee in Pinetown in 2001. The new store started up slowly, but as the Hillcrest suburb grew, it excelled. During this period, CTM Pinetown won Store of the Year twice as well as the Innovation Award. In 2007, Grant's partner, Rory Pottage, retired and other franchise opportunities became available – in Empangeni in 2009 and Springfield in 2010, and Grant took on these stores. In 2018 he acquired the CTM Umhlanga store.
Grant is currently in the process of setting up CTM Ballito, which will open in March 2021. He was also recently appointed as the first U-Light franchisee for KwaZulu Natal and looks forward to the challenge of establishing this business.
"None of this would have been possible without the support and understanding of my family over the last 25 years," says Grant.
"The years have been filled with lots of exiting challenges and opportunities, happiness and sadness. I am proud and honoured to have been on this journey from humble beginnings to success with Mr Ravazzotti and the Group. I am honoured and grateful to have been part of it all."
CTM Brand Leader and equity partner
Paul's journey with the Italtile Group started in June 1996 in the Western Cape, just six months after he matriculated. He says, "I was employed by Pierre Langenhoven at CTM Brackenfell as a sales consultant. I look back on those days and will always remember them as some of the best in my career with CTM. Pierre recognised me as a hard worker and, in time, having gained varied experience and been promoted in the business, I was offered the opportunity to assist with the opening of CTM Tokai and later CTM Montague Gardens."
He adds, "I believe that people cross our paths in life to mentor, guide and motivate us to become better and achieve greatness."
Fast forward to 2007, Paul was appointed as the Assistant Manager to the new franchisee at CTM Tokai. He says that this was an incredible two years in his journey and provided some of the most important learnings about professionalism in his career.
In 2009 he was approached by Gian-Paolo Ravazzotti, to make the bold move from Cape Town and in January 2010 Paul and his family relocated to Gauteng. He was appointed as the Store Manager of CTM Pretoria and later CTM Montana and CTM Menlyn. He also served as Gauteng Regional Leader of CTM.
Paul says his big career opportunity came when the then Chief Operating Officer, Jan Potgieter, approached him in December 2014 to lead the TopT Brand. At that stage, the fledgling brand comprised only 25 stores, with a modest turnover of R250 million. Paul notes that his tenure with TopT included some of the most amazing experiences. From building the business with an incredible team, to completing his Senior Management Development Plan, through the University of Stellenbosch.
In May 2019 Paul was appointed Brand Leader and equity partner of CTM, handing over the now well-established TopT business, which had grown to 82 stores with a turnover of over R1 billion.
"I am very excited about the future of the business and particularly about creating opportunities for our people, similar to those I have been privileged to experience. "
Chief Operations Officer, Ceramic Industries
Tshepo joined the Group in January 2004 as part of the quintet that formed the pilot Trainee Factory Manager programme at Ceramic Industries. He recalls that the first hurdle was to overcome the culture shock one experiences when one joins Ceramic. "My previous employment had been with Transnet (Spoornet), Nampak and Unilever. Even though the respective organisations had equipped me with workplace experience and the requisite skills to enter the programme, they had not prepared me for the one thing that you must have to thrive in this unique, pressured, yet equally rewarding and developing environment – knowing yourself. The dynamism and constant reinvention the business goes through tests you as a person. It tests your physical and mental endurance, robustness and tenacity. You definitely become more in tune with your inner self. But once you get over the culture shock, and stay to take up the challenge to do the job and do it well, it is an experience second to none."
When Tshepo joined the Group at 25, his ambition was to be a factory manager by the age of 30. Spurred on to achieve what others had said was impossible, he was convinced that 'nothing is impossible' and dedicated himself to achieving his goal.
During the interview process at Ceramic, it was evident that if Tshepo wanted to fulfil this objective, he was in the right place. His career in Ceramic started with organising work plans and instituting best operating practices in the glaze preparation section of Pegasus Tile factory. He notes, "The flat structure of the Company demands that one wears many hats and does much of the requisite work yourself." From managing the budget, to purchasing, to preparing and supplying quality materials to the factory, to equipment maintenance, industrial relations and managing safety matters. He says he was afforded full autonomy to manage the department and was held responsible and accountable from day one. Tshepo says that this not only stretches you as an individual, but it equips you fully to understand all facets of the business. A department is a mini-business and you are the responsible business leader. He says that an opportunity utilised well can set the foundations for managing a bigger responsibility – as it did in his situation.
His next assignment was as Deputy Factory Manager at Vitro Punched Tile factory. He recalls that it was exciting to be part of the team that turned around that business and talks of the many challenges the team had to overcome to understand this unique process and create the much-loved product that was conceived in this factory – the African porcelain.
At the age of 29, he was appointed as Vitro Factory Manager, achieving his stated goal a year earlier than his deadline. Tshepo was subsequently promoted to manage Pegasus Pressed Tile factory which is a bigger factory with more complexity, after which he was promoted to Chief Operations Officer for Ceramic Industries. While in this role, he has also overseen the Betta Sanitaryware factory for 18 months while the management team was restructured.
Tshepo notes that every opportunity has been a learning experience and to support the growth in the business, he has completed key qualifications, including the Management Development Programme, Executive Development Programme and the Masters in Business Leadership.
Tshepo says that in his personal experience there is no limit to the many growth opportunities in this Group. "If you are aligned with the business, share in the values, have lots of energy and courage, you can have an exciting, fruitful and mutually beneficial career in the Group. One thing is for sure, there has never been a dull moment."