North West toilet paper manufacturer Polyanne Papers was able to clinch a deal with retail giant Pick’nPay after being assisted by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) to obtain SA Bureau of Standards (SABS).
Thabo Ramokgadi, who started Polyanne Papers with his business partners in 2002, says he and his colleagues realised that they needed to obtain SABS accreditation in order to be taken seriously by larger clients.
The company also required marketing, sales and branding assistance, as well as better bookkeeping and accounting systems to comply with client requirements.
Seda business advisor Ivan Matli says the agency assisted Ramokgadi to help develop his product to the point where it eventually complied with the SABS 648:1980 “toilet paper” standard.
“This was done by enlisting the services of a retired individual who used to work for a company that manufactures toilet paper. He helped fine tune things such as the number of sheets per roll that have to be complied with,” says Matli.
He says Seda also assisted Polyanne Papers with funding of R150 000 for the development of a marketing and sales plan, as well as the installation of an electricity generator and accounting software to align the company’s bookkeeping with the needs of large clients. The funding was granted under Seda’s Technology Transfer Fund.
Ramokgadi says the SABS’s accreditation, the funding and the marketing assistance made it possible for the company to successfully secure long-term contracts with Pick n Pay stores in Randfontein, Rustenburg, Mafikeng, Northern Cape and Free State.
Polyanne Papers was also able to negotiate supply contracts with Choppies Supermarket in Botswana, the independent Cash & Carry group, universities, public hospitals and mines.
As a result of Seda’s interventions, the company was able to grow its turnover from R218 505 in 2004 to R4.8 million in 2011.
On top of this the company’s staff compliment has increased from two employees in 2004 to 29 currently.
Meanwhile Ashvin Nankoo, owner of Ashlee Panel Shop, was able to secure R600 000 in funding through the Seda Technology Transfer Fund, which he used to buy much needed equipment.
Most of the money was used to install a spray booth which he says has increased his company’s productivity and grown its customer base.
“I expect our turnover to expand by about 30% because of the increase in customers. This would put us on par with the more established panel-beating companies in the Free State.”
Nankoo started the business 15 years ago when he realised there was an opportunity in the market with no black panel-beating businesses operating at the time.
Seda also assisted the company with staff training and to secure motor industry approval to repair damaged vehicles insured under motor plans.
Nankoo says the Seda assistance has now put the company at a level where it can compete to become the panel beater of choice for prominent vehicle manufacturers and dealerships such as Toyota and Volkswagen. The company currently employs 24 people.