This year has been one of the most stressful yet rewarding ones that Dolphin Bay has ever experienced, observed Bertus.
The hallmarks of 2018 for our industry have been a strong sense of uncertainty and a growing awareness of our vulnerability, as has been the case for business in general in South Africa. We have spent enormous energy and time dealing with aggressive challenges.
At the same time, new opportunities are opening up, and our company is better positioned than ever.
“Doing business should be fun, but the level of stress we experienced this year drained much of the fun out of it,” said Bertus. “It has taken enormous amounts of hard work and energy to push through. This year has been a real test of character.”
For our industry, which relies on vast tracts of forestry land, expropriation without compensation has been a grave threat. Further blows were the forest fires that destroyed huge portions of plantations in the Western Cape; widespread labour unrest, with protestors making aggressive and unreasonable demands for salary increases; proposed new regulatory requirements by the Departments of Labour and Agriculture, and the rising costs of doing business which accompanied rising risks.
Our company experienced other challenges arising from situations beyond our control. The value of the Rand was tremendously volatile and commodity prices rose considerably, placing pressure on our own pricing. Meanwhile, in our industry there are growing expectations of gaining more product and services for less.
The pressures of the past year have made us question why we are in business and whether it is worthwhile. We have found the answers, coming from a place of deep conviction.
Dolphin Bay and our customers have responded to the pressures by continuing to restructure and streamline our businesses, improving a process that began in previous years.
“We are pleased that we haven’t compromised in our offerings to clients,” said Bertus. “Much more work was required this year but the outcome was good, and we believe this will continue in 2019. Our team has pulled together and we have gained new customers, completing several projects for them.”
While the demand for treated poles decreased in KwaZulu-Natal, this was more than offset by the rising demand in other markets.
Dolphin Bay is pleased to have gained product registration in Kenya this year, and we are extending our client base into more African countries.
Many developing countries are attracting large amounts of foreign investment for electrification programmes, one of the first steps required to improve Africans’ quality of life and ultimately, their spending power. “Multi-national organisations and businesses would not be pumping this much money into Africa if they didn’t see the opportunities,” said Bertus. “I believe Africa has a greater capacity for growth than any other continent and, in future decades, will come into its own on the world stage.
“It is exciting to imagine what the continent will be like in 20 or 30 years’ time.”
Nevertheless, the pressures of the past year have made us question why we are in business and whether it is worthwhile. We have found the answers, coming from a place of deep conviction.
“Business is one of the most exciting expressions of human intelligence, creativity and character,” said Bertus. “We know that we are doing what we should be doing. We believe we can make a positive impact in our own business, our customers’ businesses, and the bigger industry.
“Rather than merely survive, the challenges of this year have given us the opportunity to evolve. Business is a different animal to the one it was at the beginning of the year.
“The times determine the need,” Bertus concluded. “Dolphin Bay is impressed by our customers’ resilience and creativity too, in solving the many problems they have faced this year.
“We will be implementing our newly acquired knowledge about the market and its movements in 2019, which will be a year of further growth.”