A: Extech Safety Systems started in 1970s as the sole MTL representative in SA predominately supplying Intrinsically Safe isolators & zener barriers to PetroChem industry. Extech are hazardous area specialists representing several overseas specialist manufacturers with a comprehensive range of Ex products including displays, indicators, surge protection and more recently industrial networking including Wireless networks, PCs, Rugged Smartphones & tablets.
Q: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A: I graduated with Bsc Elec Eng at University of Witwatersrand in 1990 and after National Service & few months working, I moved to the UK in 1992. I spent 3.5 years at LTH Electronics designing water quality monitoring instrumentation. In 1995 I started employment with MTL where I spent 11.5 in various technical roles. I obtained my CEng in 1995. In 2006 I moved back to SA to take up my position with Extech. In 2013 I obtained PrEng. I am very active in SAIMC (Council & Johannesburg committee); SAFA (Ex Steering; IS sub & Organising committees. I sit of SABS TC65 (Hazardous Area standards) & was instrumental in forming TC165 (Instrumentation & Control). I have been Chairman of Fieldbus Foundation Southern African Marketing Committee for around 4 years.
Q: What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A: When I joined Extech, we were heavily dependant on 1 supplier, 1 industry & 2 customers. This was not healthy & we would be in trouble today if we did not change. Change is constant & new opportunities present themselves all the time.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A: This is hard without clichés! Enjoy what you do, work hard & be open to new possibilities
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A: Be open, assess the risks & go for it
Q: How many hours do you work a day on average?
A: I work flexibly around family, but around 8 hours on average
Q: To what do you most attribute your success?
A: I listen to what is needed; I know what I am talking about and will say if I don’t know (and I will find out). I ALWAYS do what I say I will do
Q: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A: Working on relevant associations & committees, writing & presenting technical papers. I stay abreast of new standards & legislation & will share my knowledge. Big push to get website performing well & using it and emails to find clients.
Q: Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A: I bought into an existing company
Q: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A: Be ready for change; look for new opportunities all the time & work hard
Q: Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A: I think Industrial Networking & mobile communications will become common place on process plants & mines & I see this being a big growth area
Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A: Any innovative company. Samsung, Sony, Apple.
Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
A: It is very important to have competent employees you can trust.
Q: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A: I don’t like giving up nor losing, so generally a long time, but there is no point wasting time on something that has passed
Q: What motivates you?
A: I enjoy what I do & technology excites me
Q: What are your ideals?
A: Honesty, integrity & good service. Always do what you say you will
Q: How do you generate new ideas?
A: Listening & reading
Q: How do you define success?
A: Having a profitable & efficient business with happy customers
Q: How do you build a successful customer base?
A: Add value to them by offering good solutions with good service
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A: The flexibility in working to allow for family time
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A: Winning a large project against our opposition who went all out.
Q: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A: Not a lot really. Just seeing an opportunity and taking it.
Q: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
A: Everyone can speak up. They know guidelines I use & they can make decisions if they can’t get hold of me. We work as a team
Q: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A: Nothing, I have largely enjoyed all jobs I have had
Q: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A: I can work around my family life & can watch my son play cricket or tennis
Q: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A: That the steady decline in SA will continue and that level of corruption & inefficiency will not be corrected
Q: How did you decide on the location for your business?
A: I wanted to be in Johannesburg & SA.
Q: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A: No just looking for opportunities
Q: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A: My Dad who worked hard to uplift himself & give me the opportunity of University education
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A: Being too impatient in dealing with people
Q: How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A: Keep aware of & re-evaluate the risks
Q: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A: Tennis, golf, gym
Q: What makes you happy?
A: My family time & seeing my boys doing well
About Extech Safety Systems: Extech Safety Systems offer certified and approved hazardous area products. We also offers intrinsically safe instrumentation like displays, indicators, process PCs, ethernet networking devices including wireless, RFID Asset tracking, digital cameras, access control units etc.
Johannesburg Address 1: 11-13 Naaf Street, Strydom Park Ext. 2, Randburg,2194, Tel: 011 791 6000/1/2/3
Cape Town Address: Unit 41, M5 Freeway Park, Cnr. Berkley & Upper Camp Roads, Ndabeni,Maitland, Tel: 021 510-0405 /0729 /0734
Durban/Pinetown Address: Shop 24, Ithala Power Centrem 21 Lanner Road, New Germany, Tel: 031 705 3704