7 tips for success from Cape Union Mart boss | Fin24

7 tips for success from Cape Union Mart boss

Mar 19 2016 08:00
Heindrich Wyngaard
Philip Krawitz, executive chairman of Cape Union M

Philip Krawitz, executive chairman of Cape Union Mart. (Picture supplied)

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Believing in South Africa

If we live in this country we’ll have to help it fulfil its potential. We need to look above the ground, not below the ground, for the wealth of our country. For too long we’ve ignored the true wealth of South Africa that resides in the quality of our people, who I believe have the ability to make this country one of the greatest in the world.

Lessons from his father

The lessons I learnt from my father may sound basic, but have actually stood me in excellent stead.

Firstly: the future is what we make it. We should depend on no one. He was a poor man; started off with nothing. Hard work, dedication, passion and belief in what can be achieved are what drove him.

The second thing is that if you want to do anything in life, don’t follow the herd. Be a little bit different. And we’ve tried to differentiate our company by selling products that nobody else does, providing better service than anyone else, having prices that are more competitive, and finding items that are unobtainable elsewhere.

The importance of appointing a good CEO

On my 60th birthday I decided that it was time to ensure that I would choose my own successor. That way, I would be able to spend time with them and, most importantly, ensure they would be better than me. If not, how’s the company going to grow?

I was very fortunate to find a CEO who shared my value system, but had different ideas. I think we need to realise that we have to embrace difference, embrace diversity, and embrace different ways of thinking if we want to go forward.

My CEO and I have a relationship based on absolute mutual trust and respect, and with those qualities we can work together. We laude each other’s bright ideas, we recognise each other’s diversity of knowledge and we treat each other with consummate respect for who we each are.

What guarantees success in a family business?

There are no guarantees of success; in fact, there are many, many risks. If you want to achieve success it’s a process of deciding where you want to be, how you’re going to get there, making adjustments along the way and taking each step with passion, dedication and commitment.

I think that’s how we are going forward. Importantly, family is family and business is business.

Treating your employees well

We have a saying that no one is entitled to respect. You earn respect by the way you treat others.

You cannot have a manager who disrespects their employees and still enjoys their respect. We believe that each individual should be treated equally; we believe that we should respect people for who they are.

Each person is important in their role; and we believe that people have to be respected for their respective roles in our business – from the lady who answers the switchboard (our first line of attack and defence) and the person who cleans our premises to the lady who provides us with tea and the person who drives the truck.

Reading and acquiring knowledge

Reading is the ability to tap into the knowledge that has been accumulated before you. Reading is the ability to learn from others far smarter than you. Reading is a way of staying ahead and understanding the world.

Some of the books I believe are critical to South Africa include:

The African Way, written by Mike Boon, about the values, systems and benefits in African culture. A fascinating book that I believe is critically useful to anyone wishing to go far is Corporate Life Cycles by Dr Ichak Adizes. His theories are particularly relevant in South Africa, where he shows the strength of embracing diversity and working with diverse people.

His motto in life

Make tomorrow better than it was today.

This interview was conducted after Krawitz spoke at a recent event hosted by University of Stellenbosch Business School director Prof Piet Naudé.

south africa  |  business  |  employees  |  entrepreneurs

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