When Glass Rite’s CEO LJP Roets opened for business in a tiny Pretoria corner shop, he had no idea that just two decades later his company would be one of the country’s leading glass and aluminium specialists, boasting a total of four companies under the Glass Rite branding.

A former local corner shop in downtown Pretoria named Glass Rite shattered expectations when it grew to become one of the major players in its industry within South Africa. Better still, like the best kind of business growth out there it has been slow and steady progress over the past two decades. The result is that the small-scale supplier of glass to the public for their homes and motors has expanded to become responsible for the glass facades of entire companies owned by multi-national conglomerates.

As well as aluminium and glass structures for six giant shopping malls – Queenstown, Newcastle, Orange, Jozini, Mall of the South and Shoshanguve – Glass Rite have also added their expertise and materials to Newcastle Civic Centre and the Honda Midrand HQ.

Current projects include the HQ for the company behind South Africa’s Kyalami racing circuit, the state of the art Virgin Active gym in Sandton and the stunning Menlyn Park shopping centre in Gauteng, Pretoria.

A total of four companies from one corner shop

Meanwhile, there is also the not-so-little matter of the other two subsidiary companies linked to its name so that in addition to Glass Rite Retail the company also runs Visual Direct and GRECC (Glass Rite Empowerment cc).

All three companies lead a different niche within the glass and aluminium industry in South Africa. For instance:

  • Glass Rite cc is the original corner shop (but in much larger and upgraded premises) is the contractor for all major installations of glass and aluminium shop fronts, facades, cladding, windows and doors.
  • Glass Rite Retail offers over the counter services to the public who are looking for replacement glass for splash backs and other architectural uses in their homes.
  • Visual Direct is a commercial venture aimed at the corporate sector and specialising in branding and signage such as tinting, sandblasting, wallpaper art, straightforward signs, cladding and finishes.
  • GRECC empowers new business entrepreneurs to open their own Glass Rite outlet workshops around the country in both middle class and disadvantaged communities.

Turning obstacles into challenges

The man responsible for the success of Glass Rites is Dr L J P Roets. His philosophy has always been to turn an obstacle into a challenge and that very first trial came in the late 1990’s – a time when South Africa’s economy was unstable and businesses already feeling the pressure of an uncertain future. The actual ‘obstacle’ – when it came along – wasn’t man-made however, but an Act of God.

“Pretoria experienced a series of massive hailstorms,” he said. “They were ferocious to the extent they literally shattered windows in hundreds of homes in the city and its surrounds. The glazing companies already in Pretoria just couldn’t keep up with demand, such was the devastation.”

So Dr Roets did the only thing possible as far as he could see. With two employees, he set up a travelling roadside workshop around Pretoria. Not only did he attract enough work to make the exercise worthwhile, but it also proved an excellent networking opportunity, allowing him to build up valuable contacts. At the same time, he showed he himself was not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Not long afterwards, he received his first major contract – to install shop fronts for the City Bank in Sandton, Johannesburg. With an increasingly sophisticated clientele and more money to invest, Dr Roets started looking to expand his offerings to glass tinting, glazing and window art.

It is these values that have proved the cornerstone of Glass Rites success, according to Dr Roets.

“Being able to identify areas within an industry where there is room for growth and development then refining your skills to be able to meet that changing demand – that’s what makes for a success company,” he said.

Other attributes that lead to business success for a company CEO, according to Dr Roets, is how effectively and quickly you deal with issues, learning to trust employees and taking on the role – rather than just the title – of leader.

“Innovation distinguishes the difference between leaders and followers” – Steve Jobs

The Glass Rite strategy for success

  • Allow your employees to know just how much they are appreciated by investing time and resources in them. They will become more motivated and productive as a result.
  • It is important that you learn new skills and keep up to date with industry developments alongside your employees. That way you will remain relevant in a fast-paced environment.
  • Get to know the customers, build lasting relationships and always keep your word. That way you will get a reputation as being reliable.
  • Try to battle through the hard times and cash restraints. Do this by analysing areas where you could improve and streamline the business.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances can result in issues that appear to be out of your control. Next time round you will have the skill sets to deal with them.
  • Keep up with technology and trends in order to benefit from new developments that could result in big changes within your industry.
  • Step up your marketing efforts. Make increasing efforts to inform people about your business as well as the reasons they should buy from you and not a competitor. With all the free social media platforms available today there really is no excuse not to. All it takes is around half an hour a day.
  • Dominating your industry is all about competitive advantage, offering customers better prices, services or products. At the same time, you should be keeping an eye on how the market is evolving – but not the extent that you lose sight of your own company goals.
  • Intentionally disrupt the way you do things so that you are forced to try new and different approaches to how you do things in business. If done correctly, this should open the door to new growth opportunities.

“Never see obstacles as stumbling blocks but rather an opportunity for improvement and development. This will allow you to jump over those obstacles where others will no doubt fall.” – Dr L.J.P Roets

More information on Glass Rite’s products and services can be found on the company’s website, alongside an introduction to the company ethos and images of past large scale projects. See www.glassrite.co.za

South Africa – Most Innovative CEO Dr LJP Roets of Glass Rite

This summer Glass Rite CEO LJP Roets received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Management via the Confederation of International Accreditation Commission. Nominations for the award were from both the Pebble Hills University (USA) and the CIHF (India).

It has been quite a journey to achieve such prestigious recognition. Dr Roet’s career began in the late 1970s with a stint as former senior finance officer in the South African Air Force. Next, he moved to ABSA Bank in the early 1990s where he eventually rose to Business Development Branch Manager and then Regional Manager.

Prior to forming Glass Rite Dr Roets was MD of Alambra Group – a company he formed, also in the 1990s, which designed and manufactured wooden furniture for commercial and private clients. Since 1999, he has been CEO of the highly successful Glass Rite, taking the business from corner shop status to leading player in the aluminium and glass industry in South Africa.