Three proves charm

RUNNING three entities is enough to exhaust even the most energetic businesswoman, but Uitenhage entrepreneur Nosipho Cadogen has not let swollen feet get in the way of her success.

This former regional sales manager of a national cleaning company owns three family businesses, which Cadogen runs with her husband, Goodwill.

She has a client list most local companies would only dream of, and says her success is the result of sheer hard work and determination.

Impepho, an entity that specialises in the design and maintenance of ventilation systems, was the first business started by the Cadogens after Goodwill, who was the regional manager of an industrial fan company, founded his own enterprise 12 years ago.

Shortly after leaving her job as well, Cadogen became her husband's business partner. Impepho now services the ventilation needs of big companies such as Tenneco Automotive and Transnet.

"It was the first time we were running a business, but we decided to fight together, instead of getting other business partners. Also, our husband/wife partnership has worked well for us," Cadogen said.

A laundry business, Fresh and Clean, was the next new business in 2003 in Caledon Street, Uitenhage, followed shortly afterwards by Cadogen Catering.

Fresh and Clean later evolved into a successful cleaning company.

"I got tired of sorting out washing, and didn't find the business challenging enough.

"I also experienced a lot of theft, hence we closed the laundry and only concentrated on the cleaning side of the business," Cadogen said.

Fresh and Clean supplies cleaning products and services, as well as training, to the Department of Public Works, which includes assisting smaller cleaning companies at 30 courts in the province. The company is also on the database of the Department of Health and supplies hygiene and cleaning-related services to hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Through Fresh and Clean, Cadogen also supplies sanitary bins to clinics in the metro, as well as sanitary bins to a major cleaning company in the private sector.

After having initially battled to get onto the South African Police Service's database, Cadogen now also supplies police stations across the province with cleaning materials, pest control services and corporate clothing.

"The burden on a small business to receive payment from government clients is huge. Some clients only pay after 90 days, while I still need to pay my staff and overheads, as well as keep the clients happy. It is a juggling act, but some government departments have improved in terms of paying on time," Cadogen said.

Her love of food and cooking led to the catering business, which initially served high schools' matric farewells in Uitenhage.

"I went from school to school and presented them with a proposal. The first December, we catered for 10 schools and my feet were incredibly swollen for days.

"The business grew from there, and we now cater for big and small functions for various government departments," Cadogen said.

Employing 30 people through the cleaning company alone, Cadogen said it was important to empower employees and contractors by giving them tasks and responsibilities. She also believes it is important to show your staff that you are not afraid to work.

"I don't always dress up. I can do most of the tasks the cleaners do.

"They know [staff] what is expected of them when we have a big job – they do not leave until a place is [spotless]."

The couple's daughter, Aspasia, 22, is a third-year information technology student at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Their son, Sonwill, 17, is in Grade 11 at St George's School and enjoys the catering and events coordination side of Cadogen Catering.

"On Facebook, he even describes himself as an employee of Cadogen Catering," Cadogen said.