LEARNING CURVE | Where the grass is always greener

Easigrass owner and team create urban ‘oases’ unaffected by crippling drought

Easigrass owner Hein de Villiers at one of the artificial grass installations at a home in Mount Croix, Gqeberha
GREEN SCENE: Easigrass owner Hein de Villiers at one of the artificial grass installations at a home in Mount Croix, Gqeberha
Image: WERNER HILLS

Hein de Villiers promises to have you thinking it’s summer all year round, as the Easigrass Port Elizabeth owner prides himself on providing a premium range of artificial grass.

With experience in supplying and installing artificial grass, De Villiers and his team can assist Gqeberha residents with transformations in any space.

Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started?

I started working for Easigrass Port Elizabeth in 2017 as a manager, running the day-to-day operations of the company and seeing clients.

In November 2019, the previous owner decided to retire and gave me the option to buy the business and that’s how I became a business owner of a trusted artificial grass company.

What is your core service?

We supply and install a premium range of artificial grass.

What makes your business unique?

Our service, quality and creativity make our business unique.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

It’s always important to do your homework with any business — make sure your product is of good standard, and that your supplier can honour their guarantees and back you.

Credibility is always a key factor, especially in our current market.

What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?

I bought the business as an ongoing concern, but the biggest factor that we faced was the Covid-19 pandemic.

This forced us to stop operating only 26 days after taking over and we had no income for the hard lockdown period.

We stayed active on social media and promoted what we have to offer, and as soon as we could start trading again we took off with a bang.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?

Be consistent, put in the effort and go all out.

You cannot expect 100% if you only give 20%.

What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?

We are extremely fortunate with not a lot of day-to-day operational issues and we make sure our planning is on point.

We do from time to time have to postpone installations due to rainy weather, but it happens very seldom.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

Your success depends on your service and work ethic.

How do you measure or define success in your business?

Happy clients and relationship building are a great part of our success; we go the extra mile and make sure each client feels equally valued.

What are some of the best practices that have made your business successful?

Listening is always important in any business — listen to you clients’ needs and what is required of your service, and that works for us. Have a good work ethic.

What kind of advertising do you do?

Easigrass does quite a variety of advertising as a brand holistically, but within my own capacity, I use my work as a form of advertising — word of mouth is powerful.

I also make use of displays like the one we did for the African Brick Centre’s demo day and then also plenty of online advertising.

It’s so important to have professional digital marketing.

What is your company’s vision?

We would like to be a household name, not only because of our beautiful work and installations, but also for our service.

What is your target market?

Our target market is quite large, and we have clients in the commercial and domestic market.

We do gardens, balconies, school play areas, sports fields, putting greens and basically any area you would like to have green.

What have some of your highlights been in running your business?

Seeing how it has grown over the past year, sharing my passion with clients and creating beautiful spaces for them to enjoy.

And I must say the facial expressions and gratitude is fantastic.

How important is social media and an online presence for your business?

In this day and age, a strong digital presence is the way to go in business, so I’ve outsourced all of my marketing to Alchemy Virtual Media. 

Social media can be quite complicated and very time consuming, yet it is one of the biggest necessities to grow your business.

I’ve received excellent service through my decision to outsource.

How many people do you employ?

I have three employees.

Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?

Yes, we definitely have plans for expanding.

We focus on various avenues that allow us to have steady growth, and this will increase the number of staff and workload in the near future.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

To be able to start out as a business owner, I had to take a business loan with the bank.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?

Be prepared for anything and don’t be afraid to take risks.

What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like Gqeberha?

I’ve heard a saying: “If you can run a successful business in Gqeberha, you can do so anywhere in the world”.

I think with our wide demographic and it being a small city, it is always important to have good relationships with clients and suppliers, and that definitely is an advantage.

A challenges we face from time to time is that there isn’t always urgency.

What do you say are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?

Consistency, determination and passion.

What do you say are the key traits of a successful employer?

Be a leader and lead your employees — they will act the same way with clients as you do with them.

Communicate and listen is a valuable trait; it is extremely important to always give feedback and be honest.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

Artificial grass or “turf”, as many people know it, has various aspects to look at when making an informed decision.

To the untrained eye most products will look the same, but unfortunately the quality of all materials and composition of the final product could be worlds apart.

Easigrass as a brand has been around for 30 years, and has been tried and tested  so that you can be 100% confident in all our products.

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