DURBAN - Findoors, a KwaZulu-Nata door manufacturer, hopes 2020 will open up the door of opportunity as it ramps up its production capacity by 30 percent despite the slow South African economy and pinched consumer trends.
The Port Shepstone-based company has a factory in the Marburg Industrial Area. It is a small business just under the medium size employing 40 people. It has a facility of 3 000 square metres with a production capacity of 12 000 doors per shift and distributes nationally.
The doors are distributed from Marburg. All the exports either leave by route or through container shipments.
Findoors chief executive Preedip Mothilal says despite small businesses challenges, the firm is planning to expand.
“We are looking for bigger premises. We have an expansion programme where we want a bigger factory, more equipment and hopefully employ more people and sell more doors,” says Mothilal.
The 48-year old Mothilal is a father of two girls doing third year at tertiary and another one grade 11 this year. His wife is a high school teacher.
Mothilal runs the business with his director Fahim Bux with whom he says he has sailed the ship for the last 17 years.
Mothilal says he believes in South Africa, but it must get its house in order.
Findoors makes door skins and finished interior doors. “A time came when we noticed that we had a big uptake for doors in the market. We then extended research into our door skin market.”
Mothilal says they are still taking baby steps and concentrating on making white finished door skins, before growing into colours. Now their products range from masonite doors, residential interior doors high end buildings commercial doors and hotel class and fire rated doors allowing them enjoy an extensive range.
Mothilal says Findoors' journey had been exceptionally good as they created a door skin that is patented in Africa and in the US. He says that they are the only door skins maker in South Africa.
“All others door manufacturing companies are importing door skins from the East and Brazil, but we manufacture them locally. These include white door skins to colour door skins. They also put various finishes to them.”
He says Findoors had an advantage over competitors as the firm does not have to wait for shipments to arrive. It makes and sells the product in the country while its export market is growing.
The company has started getting calls from neighbouring countries like Lesotho, eSwatini and Mozambique while distributing to customers in Johannesburg and other areas who also supplied the products to their customer bases in these countries. “We were then introduced to Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal by the Industrial Development Corporation. It allowed us the opportunity to travel to other countries to expand our business.”
Findoors says it sees further market growth ahead as the firm was receiving feedback from Ghana, Zambia, Malawi and recently ventured into Mauritius.
Mothilal says the firm also recently visited Rwanda and Egypt. “The take around from the country takes a while, but there is a lot of potential for us.”
"I feel we can do more business in Africa before venturing internationally to countries like New Zealand and Australia where we have received some enquiries.”
But Mothilal says trading has been tough despite them showing marginal profit for this year. He says they are keeping above the water line. He says exports have helping them keep the traction going in the tough year where cash flows have been difficult for small businesses.
Findoors have also changed its business model this year sticking to not giving out credit to companies and not allowing themselves to be used as as banks.
“We have turned our model to strictly cash now and it is helping the business and cash-flow allowing us to grow.”
Findoors says its has had a 20 percent better profit margin than in the past two years due to these measures. “Our turnover for the year has dropped because we have not done as many sales as we did previously. We have changed our business model to cash sales, looking for better sales and getting rid of sales where margins were very thin.”