JOHANNESBURG - Businesswoman Annah Maringa has put her experience as a quality controller to good use by starting her company following sweeping retrenchments at her former workplace.
Maringa, 54, started her company Tshikvithi Trading in Soshanguve outside Pretoria in 2007, a year after being laid off from her stressful job as a quality controller at Apple Plastic SA in Rosslyn, where she worked for 15 years.
The company, which is effectively run by women who are involved in every aspect of production, manufactures wooden doors such as twin doors, stable doors, pivot doors, single and double garage doors, and normal house doors. They cost anything from R1 800 up to a cool R14 000 a piece.
Maringa manufactures the doors from her workshop in the township. It has ample space at the back which serves as a storage facility for completed products. Her staff compliment, which includes three women as full-time employees, not only manufacture the doors, but are also responsible for installing them at the clients’ homes.
Maringa, who is the company’s chief designer, says her designs infuse both her love for flowers and contemporary African patterns.
“I also help clients come up with their preferred designs and specifications. I must say that people love my designs because they authentic. You will never find them in any furniture shop,” she says.
She maintains that she has no competition in Soshanguve and now plans to expand her business through other product offerings in an effort to entrench her company.
The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), an entity under the Department of Small Business Development, took notice of Maringa’s work in 2017 and supplied her with industrial machines to help run the business more efficiently.
“When we started out in this manufacturing business, we had these small D.I.Y machines which don’t really last. We gradually moved to better and bigger machines as we scaled up the business and received more clients,” says, adding that the Seda machinery donation couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I’d say I’m Number 1 in terms of what I do here in the township. I don’t have competition. There’s one guy who also tried his hand in this business but he closed shop because he couldn’t keep up I guess,” she says, who works with her daughter Desiree, 28.
As part of their growth strategy they started manufacturing aluminium doors in June 2017 to leverage on their demand and growing popularity.
“I want to grow the firm and create more job opportunities. This skill is scarce around here, so I’d love to teach others so that they could become independent one day, especially the youth,” she says.
Maringa says one of her plans is to branch out to other profitable parts of Gauteng, such as Johannesburg.
“I’d also love tow supply hardware stores with our beautiful, strong doors. That’s what I want to work towards achieving.”
Maringa says she surmounted many challenges for her company to be where it is today.
“One of the challenges pertained to customers who failed to settle their debts. They’d pay the deposit which then allowed me to install whatever doors they wanted, but they would often fail to settle the outstanding amount,” says Maringa, adding that she now strictly accepts cash and lay-byes.
Besides that, she also had to persuade her husband to allow her to pursue the business.
“My husband would say, ‘This kind of work is an exclusive preserve of men, you can’t do it.’ The fact that I’m here today shows that you must follow your dreams no matter what.”
She says her former colleagues that she was retrenched with are in total awe of what she’s achieved. “I just love watching them pick up their jaws from the floor when they visit the company.”
- BUSINESS REPORT