Small Business Encouragement

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Here in South Africa, and even around the world, we’ve just had a number of public holidays in April. Employees, seeing the benefits, decided to take leave in between the various public holidays, effectively giving them two weeks holiday, and effectively reducing the number of productive working days for many businesses to not much more than two weeks as well. I know of a few businesses who decided to ‘close shop’ during this period.

I’m building a house down in Montagu, at the gateway to the little Karoo, and intending to move down there at the end of June. So I decided to drive down for the two week period and check on development. It was the first time I’d seen the house, so I was a little anxious at what I would find.

Fortunately, I have a builder who takes a pride in what he does, and who is highly regarded as a man of integrity in the area. I don’t think its unkind to say that the building industry has more than its fair share of dodgy characters, but in many ways, I was so pleased to see that quality work and good service is still highly valued down in the Breede River valley.

The building material suppliers, AH Marais & Seun, have been an inspiration. Their employees have been very helpful, going out of their way to assist, even when we couldn’t make up our minds about colour and quantity etc., and their prices – while not the cheapest around – were no rip-off either. I would easily recommend them. No wonder the family business has been around for such a long time.

When I consider too, that the only communication I had with the builder – up until I saw him – was by email and phone; the work done was almost all done to specification. There’s quite a bit to do still, but I have no doubt it will be completed on time and within budget. Well done Roy and Bonnieview Builders!

Just before we called on the house, my wife and I decided to spend a few days in Hermanus. Just some ‘chilling’ time together!

While driving around one day I experienced something I never believed possible – my Subaru Forester started giving trouble! Five years old and never missed a beat and here she was, coughing and spluttering on me! I pulled over at the Stanford Garage, where a kind mechanic pulled and prodded for a while, before going off to phone the agents in Somerset West. As is usual with most modern cars, not just anyone can fix them without a computer, so this very helpful young man suggested I take a drive to Somerset West to get it sorted out. We managed to get there alright – it was just cutting out on me whenever I stopped, – so with some judicious use of the clutch and handbrake, we pulled into the agents premises. We were well taken care of while we waited, and then were handed back our trusty ‘steed’ with an ‘all-in-order’ slap on the fender!

Why this story? Well, the mechanic in Stanford wouldn’t hear of being paid for the time he spent under the bonnet of the car, or on the phone to the agents; and in their usual Subaru agent fashion, our car was repaired and a few days later, someone phoned to see if everything was going alright. I felt like I was dreaming and had gone back in time some 40 years, to the days when service and care really meant something.

Well done you guys! Sweating the small stuff like this is what reaps dividends later on. Small business is alive and well and flourishing down in the Cape.