DURBAN - Aletta “Huntie” Pomp, 53, the founder and managing director of environmental sustainability-focused consulting company Triplo4 Sustainable Solutions, says it takes hard work and commitment to be innovative and creative to grow a business.
Triplo4's turnover in the first year of being opened in 2012 was R600 000 and now exceeds R13 million.
So how did Pomp's entrepreneurial journey begin?
Plomp was born in Orkney in the North West. She studied for a B.Sc degree in Microbiology and Physiology at Pretoria University. In 1999/2000 she got her Masters in Environmental Management(Cum Laude) from the then University of the Orange Free State.
She subsequently worked at Anglo Gold Ashanti’s chemical laboratory where she analysed gold, water and uranium.
She later on got an opportunity to move into the environmental sector where she got involved in training and awareness, water management, air quality management, waste management,environmental auditing and environmental systems.
“I discovered that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I then went to study towards a Masters Degree in Environmental Management. Over the years I also did courses in Environmental Management.”
Plomp moved to Kwa-Zulu Natal to work for a consulting company until she resigned to start her company in 2011.
“When I said that I would go out on my own and do business, the economy was going through a difficult time. Many people said it was not a good time to start the business. But I decided that I was not going to wait and believed back then that it was the right time to start," she says.
Plomp believed she had the capacity and experience to run the company both from the technical and managerial perspective.
“When I started I only needed a computer and my experience. I rented space in an office. It was then about promoting myself and my business. It was also key to keep an ear on the ground to hear when there were opportunities that I could offer my service to. It is really about business development and marketing,” says Plomp.
Pomp used her pension funds to set up the business, which has grown organically. She went into partnership with a friend.
Pomp registered her company in October 2011, but started operation in March 2012.
When the business began, Plomp says they hired three interns and one volunteer because they could not afford experienced personnel. Today, they now employ 16 people.
It is a consultancy that looks and finds the balance for a operation or development between the economic, social and environmental aspects.
“When you put those three in a circle that is where you find sustainability. We are focused on helping any business or industry in terms of their operations to find that balance. If you are looking at a new development as well as operations, we help you to get your environmental authorisations in place or remain compliant to the authorisation.”
Plomp says environmental licensing includes authorisation associated with NEMA, water use licences and air quality licences in which Triplo4 helps in either obtaining, interpreting, reporting and auditing on those licenses.
Plomp says that having increased Triplo4's consulting services offering, they now want to get involved in the green economy where they can start to play a role in sustainability products or green technology.
“What is also an advantage is the fact that because of global warming and pressures on the environment, environmental management and sustainability will become more and more important creating a greater need for environmental management. On top of that, we also have far more legislation. So overtime the need for sustainability will become bigger and bigger and that in itself it will create opportunities,” saysPlomp.
She believes tenacity is key to drive the business forward. “There is such a lot we can get involved with, but all we should do is about climate change in line with the United Nations Global Sustainability Goals. It is in that area where I believe the opportunities lie for Tripl04 to grow the business to the next level.”
Plomp says despite the tough South African economy, the company is growing. She attributes this to the fact that they never have a shortage of ideas.
“The only thing I need is time and money, which is always the case for any business. I think the South African economy as a whole has been difficult but throughout this at Triple04, we have not had to retrench any staff. We have actually expanded our services. "