Grobler Furniture Manufacturers started out as a modest furniture wholesaler but has turned into a fully-fledged wood furniture manufacturer with impressive growth prospects and an expanding staff, thanks to the invaluable support of the MCEP programme.
The household furniture maker, based in North End, Port Elizabeth, opened in 29913 and today employs 52 people. Hannes Grobler is the managing director and founder of the business.
He prefers his company to be called Best Value Furniture Makers, a name he says gives the company “a bit of feeling”.
“We offer good value for money at a very reasonable price,” he says.
The company’s unique selling proposition is supplying quality household furniture at a reasonable price. Having recorded phenomenal growth in the past few years, the business now seeks to venture into making school desks and chairs.
Curiously, Grobler started the company more as a hobby than anything else. At the time, he was a retail director for a company in Port Elizabeth.
Tapping into his rich retail experience, he started a wholesale business supplying affordable household furniture to small shops. The business blossomed, but unfortunately Grobler’s suppliers realised how lucrative it was and decided to sell directly to his customers. This prompted him to begin manufacturing his own furniture.
“The factory started off in a 300m² space and today we operate a factory between 6,000m² and 7,000m² in size. So, it’s become a huge company,” he explains. “One of the greatest assistances … from the word go has been from the dtic. That is why we are here today as Grobler Furniture Manufacturers.”
Grobler approached the dtic after a pine furniture supplier in Cape Town went into liquidation, leaving a gap in the market.
Beginning with a “very cheap basic machine”, Grobler went into business. Soon, he was making chairs, tables and bunk beds. He sent out a few items as a tester: his customers were suitably impressed and orders started rolling in thick and fast.
Grobler turned to the dtic for help so he could buy machines that would help the business cope with demand. He had already identified the machines he needed.
“We put a plan together, sent it to the dtic and in no time we bought machines and started operating,” he recalls. “Where we started off with say 10 table and chair sets, we now manufacture far in excess of 250 sets of tables and chairs a month. It’s become a lovely little business.”
The help from the dtic has brought more speed to the production line.
The company now manufactures a wide range of beds, wardrobes, kitchen units and foam mattresses. And the potential for more business is huge.
Best value furniture
Grobler Furniture’s market is “unsophisticated”, he says, catering to the middle to lower income group.
It has applied for five different incentives from the dtic so far, with the MCEP being the latest. Grobler is chuffed with this assistance. “I wouldn’t have been able to fund this size of operation without them.”
When the company bought the furniture-making machines, including milling, boring and edge-bending equipment, it meant more furniture items had to be assembled, creating employment opportunities.
Grobler has big plans for the future, which includes branching into school furniture.
“I believe there are 6,000 new schools that will be built and every school will need desks and chairs. This is our next growth point that we will be going into – school furniture manufacturing,” he explains.