Winner of the Excellence in the Management of People award
for 2018, category for small enterprises
Our adjudicator Kenneth Mabilisa shares with us their experience of Air Blow Fans
How to use people’s strengths and avoid unproductive personality clashes
It takes different personalities and talents to build an effective, cohesive team but if the individuals in the team don’t understand each other’s differences, tension can result. Air Blow Fans has found a way to get the most out of a diverse bunch of people so that they complement rather than frustrate each other.
It starts with recognising the value that different personalities and viewpoints bring and, conversely, the dangers of attempting to stamp a culture of clone-like uniformity on business, says Gavin Ratner, managing member.
was like me, the place would fall apart. It takes all types to be successful,”
he says, explaining: “I’m not a detail person at all but my sales manager is
extremely detailed. He knows it’s not personal and that he has to make sure I
give him everything he needs to do his job properly. We understand each other.”
understanding is not based on telepathy or even years of working together. It
stems from the conscious effort that Air Blow Fans makes to ensure its people
are aware of each other’s different personalities and how to work together
productively despite – or perhaps because of – those differences.
uses professional personality profilers to interview each and every team member
and then consolidate the results on a group graph that shows the team’s
collective strengths and weaknesses, as well as the personality dynamics at
“We also use
profiling before we hire anyone to make sure there is the right fit between the
person and the position. If the position needs detail, then the person filling
the position must have detail,” says Gavin. “As Jim Collins said, you must get
the right people on the bus in the rights seat before you decide where the bus
right people on board, in the right positions, they tend to get on with the job
– and with each other. “It means you don’t have to manage people,” he says. “Technology
is simple and intuitive and growing the business is the easy part. People
management is the hardest thing in business. It takes just one bad apple to
create turmoil and dissension.”
doesn’t claim to have all the answers but, judging from its staff turnover,
it’s doing something right. “We lost one person two years ago and we have
grown, gaining three people in the past year,” Gavin says. “Understanding each
other’s personalities helps me and others to interact well. It makes things a
Winner of the Excellence in the Management of People award for 2018, category for emerging enterprises
Our adjudicator Dr Mthandazo Ncube shares with us their experience of Passion4Performance.
Free to make mistakes and accountable for fixing them
On a good day, the
only person you can control is yourself, so attempting to control anyone else
is futile. Rather let people manage themselves, have the freedom to make
mistakes and be held accountable for their actions and decisions.
This is the essence
of people management at online learning assessment company Passion4Performance
– and while it might sound simple, it’s anything but.
“Our culture limits
us in terms of who can work for us. It’s really difficult to find people who
can work this way. At school and in their studies, people are not taught to
think. Then they come here and have this freedom, and it’s very uncomfortable,”
says Darryn Van Den Berg, founder and Visionary MD of Passion4Performance.
part is that there are only two golden rules for the company’s employees.
“First, you must be able to ask if you don’t know. Second, you must know if you
are about to drop a ball,” says Darryn. “Our culture is that if you drop the
ball, you have to pick it up.”
In other words, it’s
all about consequences and accountability. “We have lots of conversations about
our culture and we tend to dive into the consequences, and this is causing the
uncomfortable conversations to become closer to the norm.”
Darryn recalls the
time he and a young developer went to pitch for a large contract from a
prospective client. “This youngster saw me as the boss and he would never say
“no” if I asked him to complete a task. He said he could do the job we were
pitching for and we took the risk that he could. On the pitch day, we took him
with the potential client but the work was not completed and the pitch fell
apart. Holding him accountable in front of the client to fix the challenges –
as we were experiencing them.”
After the experience
of having to explain his misjudgement to the client, this particular employee
was no longer a people pleaser. “Immediately, he started saying no,” says
“Micromanaging is easy but I’m a firm believer
that people must manage themselves. As far as possible, we try to create an
environment where people set their own goals and targets and make their own
decisions. We like people to be free from fear to make mistakes, ask for help
and pick up the balls they drop.”
Netstar were the tt100 2018 winner of the Excellence in the Management of Technology award, for large enterprises.
Our adjudicator Ann Naicker shares with us their experience of Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron.
accelerator on innovation-led business
Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race. To survive in
today’s highly competitive environment, organisations need to be more agile and
innovative. A key driver in boosting such a culture is fuelled by a willingness
to invest in research and development, as well as the ability to learn from
previous wins and potholes along the way.
For many years, Netstar’s basic business has been stolen vehicle
recovery, and a solid business it is. Today it is also a driving force in Asset
Tracking and Insurance Telematics.
“Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron, delivers innovation that matters”,
says Pierre Bruwer, Group Managing Director for Netstar. “One of our key
strategic objectives is to grow our market share within the IoT and Data
Analytics space. With Netstar’s Insurance Telematics, insurance companies can
now perform accurate driver behaviour analysis allowing them to manage their
risk more effectively. Both solutions rely on our IoT and Data Analytics
platforms”, he continued.
industry is multi-layered and offers an array of business opportunities.
“Netstar provides protection to over 700 000 vehicles and
have recovered in excess of 80 000 stolen and hijacked vehicles,” says Quintin
de Kok, cloud solutions architect at Netstar. “Every day, our devices stream between
250 million and 300 million messages to our insurance clients – some of whom
base their whole insurance model on the data we provide.”
Usage-based insurance is one of the fastest-growing
data-driven trends. This is where drivers are rewarded or penalised according
to their driving behaviour.
incentives to drive better
“According to an analysis we did for one large company, the
behaviour score of drivers who were incentivised improved by 4% to 5% on
average, and 17% more had a 100% score,” Quintin says. “Incentivised drivers
drove better than those who knew their score but were not incentivised and
those who did not know their score and were not incentivised.”
Netstar has been making major inroads into the user-based
insurance market on the strength of a combination of factors including: the
huge number of Netstar devices installed in South African cars, its highly
scalable technology platform, the ability to attract and retain top technology
skills and their strong investment in R&D.
“We are constantly investing in new technology, spending 3.6%
of our annual turnover on Research and Development,” Pierre says. “Our
technology strategy is tied to our business strategy of improving revenue
growth, profitability and customer experience, as well as employee excellence.
To this end, we have entered into new markets in terms of our local technology
offering and global presence. Our Asset Tracking solutions allow our customers
to monitor more than just vehicles, but their high value possessions as well.”
Cycling is a growing sport in South Africa with cyclists on
expensive bicycles becoming easy targets for criminals. To help foil them, Netstar has partnered with
CycleSense to offer cyclists a tracking and recovery solution for their
bicycles. A first in the South African market.
Further to local technology growth, Netstar recently entered
the Indian car market.
“As stated in McKinsey’s July 2018 report profiling India’s passenger-vehicle market, the country is predicted to become the world’s third-largest passenger-vehicle market by 2021; and we intend on maximizing this opportunity from both a consumer and commercial perspective.”, Pierre concludes. There’s little chance that Netstar will be pressing the brakes any time soon.
Accsys were the tt100 2018 winner of the Excellence in the Management of Technology award, for medium enterprises.
Our adjudicator Marilze Schwar shares with us their experience of Accsys.
Six out of six is hard to beat
Talk about making a clean sweep.
Payroll and people management company Accsys entered six tt100 award categories
in 2018 and walked away with all six, including excellence in the management of
“We were surprised,” admits CEO
Teryl Schroenn. This is not because Accsys is a newcomer to winning awards – it
received one tt100 award in 2017 and four in 2016 – but rather because it had
just emerged from a challenging period.
Transaction Capital acquired Accsys
in December 2017 after it had spent several years in the Telkom/BCX fold. “As a
subsidiary, we had been hampered by corporate restrictions and it was only
quite recently that we felt we were back on track,” says Teryl.
Six tt100 awards seem to confirm
that, but truth be told, Accsys’s business and technology model is built for
resilience across short-term wobbles. As payroll veterans who have seen more
change than most, Teryl and her COO Cathie Webb know that nothing is more
important to people than their salaries. Being paid the right amount, on time,
is non-negotiable, and a payroll provider worth its salt makes sure that if
there’s one thing its clients’ employees can bank on, it’s their salaries.
So the backbone of Accsys’s
business is extremely reliable technology. However, that’s not enough. This
technology also has to be highly flexible so that all those deductions can be
made, error-free, and salaries paid via whatever channels the client and its
employees prefer. For the most part, 21st century employees receive
their salaries electronically but there are still many unbanked people in
Africa (Accsys’s clients are active in 19 African countries) whose salaries are
paid in cash.
Teryl says Accsys is able to adapt
its proprietary software relatively quickly and easily to cater for those
preferences, not to mention the differences in various countries’ tax
frameworks, employment laws and data privacy requirements.
The company is also keeping a close
eye on the rapid changes in the world of work, where digitisation is ushering
in new types of employment, embodied by the gig worker who chooses to work
here, there and everywhere. Such trends are bound to change what, when and how
people are paid, with major implications for the future of payroll.
Here, systems integration and data
protection are key requirements, she says. “Software, while having to be
protected to ensure data confidentiality, must still be able to contribute data
to other products and accept data from other products.”
“The digital economy is still in
the embryo stage but we need to be agile enough to adapt to whatever it
brings,” says Teryl. “We have a team of bright young people adding depth to our
very experienced team, looking at things
to add on or take off what we are already doing and making it cutting edge.”
No one knows quite how payroll will change or
even what currencies will exist in the digital future, but when people need to
be paid, Accsys is putting its money where its mouth is.
Winner of the Excellence in the Management of Technology
award for 2018, category for emerging enterprises
Our adjudicator Chipa Maimela shares with us his experience of FetchThem
Find and fetch
customers who are most likely to close the deal
It’s a scenario with which every business is familiar: many
potential customers express interest in a product or service but only a small
percentage of those queries are converted into actual sales. Finding and
fetching customers who are more likely to close the deal is the forte of Cape
Town-based digital data marketing company FetchThem.
“In a subtle and non-intrusive way, we influence the
purchasing decisions of our clients’ customers by making sure the brand is
exposed to their decision-makers,” says FetchThem CEO Chris Witthoft.
Here’s an example.
Company A wants exposure to certain chartered accountants in
Johannesburg. Company A then gives FetchThem a list of the names of CAs it
wants to reach. FetchThem locates them and makes sure that Company A’s display
adverts are in front of the selected CAs wherever they go online.
“The important thing is that we integrate all the digital
touch points and have a central view. The ads don’t pop up only when the person
is on Facebook or Google, but everywhere they go online – across social media
and other platforms,” Chris says. “This enhances the brand and keeps it top of
It’s important not to bombard the target audience, though,
so the ads will run for a limited period and frequency, usually between seven
and 20 times a month – often enough to be noticed but without becoming
FetchThem’s technology model is cloud based, integrated into
the leading digital platforms and running off Google Infrastructure. It
connects to the cloud and clients through its own application programme interface
(API), which Chris says can interface with almost any software tool.
One of FetchThem’s biggest successes to date has for a large retail distributor in South Africa, which is 2018 was experiencing that familiar challenge of converting quotations into sales.
“They receive thousands of requests for quotations every month, and were looking for an innovative way to increase quotes to sales,” Chris says. “So we took their offline data online and, within a month, they reported a dramatic increase in sales.”
FetchThem can take at least some of the credit for such
successes as its reporting tools track the progress of each campaign and its
return on investment (ROI). “Because our API can be integrated into point of
sales, we can pick it up when someone is reached online and has actually bought
He refers to FetchThem’s business model as “account-based
remarketing” because it is so targeted. While Chris would not call it a trend
yet as account-based remarketing is still in its early stages worldwide, he
sees it as one of the ways to solve the marketing challenges of the digital
“Digital touch points are all over the place and
business lacks a central view of what is working best. This helps us to solve
that problem; it’s one of the ways that helps integrate all those touch
Winner of the 2018 award for Excellence in the Management of Technology, category for small enterprises
Our adjudicator Jayesh Reddy shares with us his experience of how Air Blow Fans effectively manage their technology
Fan specialists take the risk up front and blow competitors away
A small company facing stiff competition from major multinationals has to do things differently, especially in a niche market where a competitive edge can quickly vanish into thin air.
Air Blow Fans have carved out a nice slice of the African industrial fans business for itself in the past 15 years, but it knows better than to settle into a comfort zone. In fact, there’s nothing like taking risk upfront to keep an enterprise on its toes, says Gavin Ratner, its managing member.
“We go out to the site, find out what the problem is and do
the investigation for free,” he says. “This really means putting our money
where our mouth is, and clients appreciate it that we take the risk upfront.”
The Kempton Park-based company’s clients are usually mining
houses, power plants and manufacturers that use industrial-strength fans for
ventilation and can ill afford the production downtime that goes with faulty or
poorly functioning fans.
Their problems typically revolve around fans that someone
else supplied and installed, so Air Blow Fan’s arrival is a breath of fresh
air; it has a talent for fixing legacy problems.
While the fan concerned might not be brand new, Air Blow
Fans’ approach is stat-of-the-art.
“We are continually improving our skills and solutions, and
are very strong on the engineering side,” says Gavin. Air Blow Fans – which won
no fewer than five tt100 awards in 2018 – has invested heavily in engineering
software for analysis, design and systems monitoring, and is one of a handful
of small South African companies with ISO 9001:2015 accreditation.
It should not come as a complete surprise that
the company is also a fan of the TIPS™ framework. “What I like about TIPS is the way
it ties everything together,” Gavin says. “There is no one component of
business you can focus on in isolation. You have to look at all of it. That’s
what TIPS helps you to do.”
Winner of the Excellence in the Management of Innovation award for 2018, the category for large enterprises.
Click on the clip for a summary of our energetic adjudicator Marlize Schwar on the phenomenal ways that SVA Holding manages innovation. SVA Holding is the 2018 tt100 large enterprise excellence in Management of Innovation category winner
the future of risk with 99% accuracy
notoriously difficult to make and there aren’t too many companies confident
enough in their forecasting abilities to claim a near-perfect accuracy rate. A
rare exception is SVA Holdings, an asset protection and risk management company
with a track record of being right 99% of the time when forecasting its
clients’ risk problems – months and even years ahead.
“For instance, we can
predict non-compliance issues in a retailer’s stock-take two and a half years
in advance. It’s been tried and tested, with 99% accuracy,” says Derick Deyzel,
chief commercial officer at SVA Holdings.
However, clients need
not wait for any length of time to see the benefits of implementing the
improvements SVA suggests when it detects risk or compliance loopholes in their
systems or processes, from the supply chain to health and safety. “We feed back
to clients in real time so that they are able to make quick decisions about
their risk profiles,” says Derick. “We are constantly hunting to improve
gets it right
The uncanny accuracy
of SVA’s risk-related forecasting is rooted firmly in its Infoman technology
platform, developed in South Africa and patented in 43 countries.
It all starts with
gathering the client’s operational data 24 hours a day and feeding this into
the SVA platform, where it is weighted, rated, prioritised and escalated
according to the client’s risk profile, all in real time and without getting in
the client’s way.
“Infoman tells us
when there is a challenge, where it is, who needs to fix it and when this can
be achieved,” says Derick. “Our competitors may offer comprehensive audits but
they are largely based on historical information. We bring current and more
relevant information, right now.”
The benefit of
real-time analysis is that the client can take immediate action to correct any
non-compliance. If the driver of a logistics company, for instance, deviates
from the approved route, Infoman will pick this up while it is happening and
alert the client, who can deal with this straight away instead of after the
will pick it up immediately if one branch of a 300-store retail chain is
neglecting to do the required daily count of high-value items such as TV sets
What SVA’s technology
also does extremely well is to adjust and align with the client’s risk policies
and procedures as these evolve. “It changes and improves so that it’s as
relevant to the business in five years’ time as it is today,” Derick says.
What likely also
impressed the tt100 adjudicators about SVA Holdings’ management of innovation
capabilities is that its technology is as relevant to small enterprises as it
is to large ones. “The technology platform works just as well with a company of
five vans as it does with a national retailer with 300 to 400 outlets,” he
Perhaps it’s time to
make a bold prediction: this won’t be the last time that SVA Holdings comes up
with innovative technology that changes the face of risk management.
Winner of the Excellence in the Management of Innovation award for 2018, category for medium enterprises
Click on the clip below for a synopsis by our dynamic adjudicator Marlize Schwar on the exceptional ways that Accsys manages innovation.
Keeping payroll relevant in the Gig economy
As the Gig economy grows, who knows
what the future holds for corporate payrolls. As more and more people do gigs
rather than full-time jobs, who will pay them – payroll or the accounts
department? Come to think of it, will large corporates and their payroll
departments even exist in the virtual era of nimble newcomers?
These are some of the questions
about the future that Accsys’s leadership team are keeping in their sights
while dealing with today’s dilemmas – of which there are plenty.
When it comes to innovation, for
instance, the following catch-22 comes to mind, says CEO Teryl Schroenn:
“As an IT company, we have got to
be innovative, which means we have got to take risks – and then we have risk.
So how do we innovate while maintaining stability and limiting risk to our
Consider that some of Accsys’s
clients have upwards of 25 000 people on their payrolls and operate right
across Sub-Saharan Africa, from South Africa to Senegal, and it’s clear that
finding the balance between innovation and stability is a real business
In fact, it’s one that Accsys,
which has clients doing business in 19 African countries, is tackling right
“We are busy with a massive update
that we have been preparing for since last October,” says Teryl. “We are always
our own guinea pigs, so we started testing the update in our own payroll. After
two months, we ran it live on two client sites and now we are starting with
some of our bigger clients.”
It sounds so simple but it’s
actually not: with clients operating in 19 countries, the update has to
accommodate 19 different national tax frameworks, not to mention a host of
other country-specific salary and employment details.
This update not only caters for
clients’ current payroll requirements but is part of the evolution towards a
digital future that is unfolding as we speak. “Innovation means making sure you
have a product that people can use now and that works, while also being mindful
of how things are changing and the impact of digital on payroll,” says Teryl.
Talking of change, what does she
think the future holds for large corporates and their payrolls?
“I think people and companies are like countries,” she says. “Some want to be their own country, like Catalan or Scotland, and some want to be centralised, like Russia. In business, there are different models too: some companies want to be small and agile, and some want to be huge. “But one thing is for sure: whatever the future holds, SARS is still going to want their tax.
Winner of the 2018 award for Excellence in the Management of Innovation, the category for small enterprises
Click on the clip for a synopsis by our expert adjudicator Mark Fuller on the dynamic way in which Cura Risk Management manages innovation in their organisation.
How to outperform your peers in a listless economy
In today’s grim economic climate, revenue growth of over 60% is an unimaginable feat for most South African companies. “If you innovate constantly, you can outperform the market, despite the economy. Maybe we would have done even better if the economy had been up to speed,” says Alex Roberts, Regional Director: Sales and Operations of Cura Risk Management.
That level of growth in 2018 might be understandable in a
start-up coming off a small revenue base, but Cura is an established company
with a 16-year track record, not a start-up. So how has its South African
business unit managed to buck the trend of flat sales and sluggish growth?
A contributing factor is the nature of its business. Being
in the business of providing Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) software solutions,
Cura is in the right place at the right time. “South African companies are
getting a lot more pressure for good governance and we are in that space,” says
But that would only be part of the story – and a small part
at that. The real secret behind Cura Risk Management’s success is its mastery
of innovation. Take its ability to service customers at both ends of the
market, from small to large, as well as everything in between.
“Competitors generally focus on one end of the market or the
other,” says Ross Saunders, Director for Global Technology Services. “We service
both ends, from corporations that require very complex nuances to small clients
that want enterprise-grade software in a hosted environment.”
In the past, enterprise-grade software would have been out
of the reach of most small enterprises but Cura has bridged the gap. “With
SMEs, affordability is the problem and historically, they would only have been
able to afford a lesser product. Now, because our product set is unique and we
use different business models, we can offer small clients a solution similar to
something a massive financial services company would use, yet focused to their
own needs,” says Alex.
As for large companies – Cura’s traditional market – they
too are under pressure to up their Governance, Risk and Compliance game, and
tend to be receptive to Cura-style innovation. Its business model for large
enterprises is integrated and built on a single source of the truth, he says. “We
combine risk management, business continuity, internal audit, SHEQ, incident management,
IT risk management, etc, all as a single, fully integrated solution.”
This differentiation, along with a technology platform that
is constantly evolving, underpins the kind of growth that many South African
companies can only dream of. If you innovate, you can grow.
Winner of the Excellence in the Management of Innovation award for 2018, category for Emerging Enterprise
Our adjudicator Marizanne Burger shares with us their experience of Air Blow Fans
Fashion in SA is a
whole new ball game
The local textile is in tatters thanks to cheap imports and
fashion designers are struggling but some are fighting back – and keeping their
sense of humour while they’re at it.
“It’s a whole new ball game,” says Roman of ROMAN HANDT, avant-garde
fashion scientists and textile artisans. This is the tongue-in-cheek slogan for
“Romandies” (pronounced “Rom-undies”), a sleek and comfortable line of men’s
underwear that boxers, cyclists and other sportsmen are snapping up.
It was Romandies in particular that caught the attention of
the tt100 adjudicators. ROMAN HANDT
manufactures them in-house, which is unusual for a small design and textile
house because underwear is difficult to produce, requiring elastication and
various other complicated processes and machinery.
But if you get it right, underwear can be a money spinner.
“Men’s underwear has shown the most growth (in the clothing industry) and they
are reckoning that the market is worth billions,” says Roman, adding that
modern men are “quite happy” to pay for really snug, comfy, aesthetically
“We pay a lot of attention to fit and the cup part of
Romandies sits very snugly so that men never sit on or hurt anything. It really
is a whole new ball game.”
The brand has significant market potential in South Africa,
not to mention profit potential for its originators. In South Africa, the clothing
market is all about price, and underwear is one of the few clothing products
that can be sold with a decent mark-up, says Roman.
“When you produce the product
in-house, you cut out the middleman and can be very competitive in the market.
And with underwear, there is a no return policy!”
To reap the benefits, though, in-house manufacturers need to
invest in the right technology – something that emerging and small enterprises
are often reluctant to do.
“The only way you can compete is by investing in technology,”
says Roman, adding that this need not break a business’s budget. “If you invest
time in doing your research, you can pick up quite inexpensive machines by
going to auctions.”
Once you have the right equipment to manufacture underwear,
it can be used for many other types of garments too, opening up all kind of
future possibilities, not just for the individual entrepreneur but for the
“I want to teach younger generations, entrepreneurs in their
twenties, that if you have a sewing machine and a product, there is a way to be
an entrepreneur and support your family,” says Roman. “Work for yourself –
that’s what I want to show people.”