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Young entrepreneurs eye construction empire

Oct 02 2015 20:43

Cape Town - A coincidental meeting on a cold call between two young entrepreneurs from Durban has turned into a successful construction partnership which now sports three branded vehicles and employs 52 people.

What makes Majozi Bros outstanding is that the owners were just 20 and 21 years old when they started the business under the watchful eye of Musa Majozi, father of co-owner Simphiwe Majozi, now 26.

Partner Sihle Ndlela shared their journey of establishing the company which showed a turnover of R5m in the last financial year.

"The company started from very humble beginnings and was originally founded five years ago by Simphiwe, who later teamed up with his father Mr Musa Majozi.

"We met on a cold call, Simphiwe and I. I was running my own aluminium windows and doors manufacturing business which I had started at the age of 20. My main customers were building contractors.

"I saw Majozi Brothers’ website and I was surprised to see such a professional looking website, especially from a black contractor. I decided to give him a call to try and get some work from him. Initially, when we spoke over the phone we both assumed that the one was older than the other.

"When we finally met we were very surprised to see we were the same age. We did a couple of jobs together and from the beginning it was as John D Rockefeller once said: 'A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship'."

The pair shared a common passion for entrepreneurship and business which went as far back as primary school - both engaged in a string of business ventures ranging from selling sweets, granting small loans, organising parties and selling hot dogs on street corners.

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"When we realised we shared the same vision and professionalism to take the business to the next level, we decided that I should join Majozi Bros," said Ndlela.

Ndlela said instead of waiting for government tenders, the pair targeted the residential market, which lacked professional black companies. "We wanted to operate in a field where we could differentiate ourselves through skill, professionalism and by being creative. We believe we also offered a fresh blend of enthusiasm and energy."

Majozi Bros' biggest stumbling block was to fight off a "really bad reputation, particularly of black contractors".

"We were associated with inflated prices and shoddy workmanship and typically expected to be in the late 40s."

Tarred with the same paint brush, the pair were perceived to be "always dirty, smelly, almost always having half of their butts sticking out of their pants, driving a van that was as old as our moms and didn't believe in the power of marketing."

In fact,  said Ndlela, most black contractors were technicians who didn't understand the fundamentals of business - they understood the technical work of building but not the business of building.

Ndlela and Majozi set out to be different from day one, investing heavily into branding and marketing and industry-related training. "We made a conscious decision to project a consistently professional image in everything we do from our branding, our website, the manner in which we interact with our clients and the way we execute projects.

"We strongly believe in securing our clients solely based on merit and our ability to add value.

"We also believe that we are in the business of building dreams and not just houses. Therefore we don't refer to the homes we build as projects. We prefer to call them signatures as they are an expression of each of our clients’ individuality and an extension of our brand.

"Through this we have built a reputation of professionalism and consistently exceeding our clients' expectations."

Majozi Bros' clients come from around most of KZN - from Ballito, Umlazi, Hillcrest, Adams mission and Durban north. "Our company has really grown in the last couple of years - our turnover in the last financial was R5m, we have three fully branded vehicles and we employ 52 workers," say the proud partners.

They plan to aggressively grow the business in the coming year and to expand into other provinces. "We see ourselves one day as big as the likes of Basil Read, JT Ross, Grinaker, Liviero and WBHO.

"We have studied these companies and they all have one thing in common: they were all started by mere men - men who had the same 24 hours we do, men who started with the same limited resources as we do.

"We therefore see absolutely no reason why we can't someday be as big as they are."

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