LEARNING CURVE | Next generation takes NC Upholsters into the future

Lucille Bosman draws on former corporate background to take client-focused business to greater heights

Lucille Bosman and her father, Neville Plaatjies, who was the previous owner of NC Upholsters
LEGACY CONTINUES: Lucille Bosman and her father, Neville Plaatjies, who was the previous owner of NC Upholsters
Image: Supplied

Dedication and a commitment to work tirelessly are what business owner Lucille Bosman believes set her family’s business apart.

NC Upholsters, which was established in 1999, strives to provide the highest standard of quality and service to customers throughout the Eastern Cape.

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

I am a logistician by profession and spent the last 12 years planning manufacturing, packing and logistics operations in both the confectionery and pharmaceutical industry.

The corporate background has provided me with sound business principles, professionalism, leadership, integrity and governance in terms of succeeding and maintaining a level of performance required to succeed.

I am fortunate enough to be succeeding my dad in this business.

He has spent more than two decades of his career building, establishing and maintaining the upholstery business.

What is your core service?

Manufacturing and reupholstery of furniture.

What makes your business unique?

Our business has a wealth of knowledge and experience which transcends into high-quality standards which are the hallmark of our business. 

The business does have key differentiators in that the client-centred focus is a priority from the initial discussion of the design right through to the end product.

Clients are key stakeholders.  

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

It is important that you have highly skilled craftsmen and women to ensure every product is executed in accordance to its design and meets high-quality standards.

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

I was fortunate enough to take over a running business, and I have my dad and family to be grateful for too.

They have put in a significant effort, which is why we have such longevity in our business today.

My challenges were more overcoming the usual internal barriers from myself, which was making the transition from corporate into a family business.

I am grateful to my dad who ensured he created a solid pathway for me to now succeed him and setting me up for success. 

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

They must not be limited in their thinking.  They must develop resilience and they also need to look for strategic partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

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

Securing a pipeline of talent in the various disciplines required to enable continuing operations for the future. Some of the skills required in this industry are rare and unique, and ensuring cover and succession is of utmost importance.

Identifying and nurturing those hand skills will be a core focus in the next period.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

There is a strong correlation between effort and reward.

I’ve been fortunate to have grown up with parents who are very industrious in nature, so this has become part of my DNA.

This has shown me that there is no substitution for effort in life.

You may have talent, but your skills and knowledge only improve when you invest effort into your work.

Effort builds skill and makes you more productive.

How do you measure or define success in your business?

Customer service and quality are the key measures of success, and enable us to broaden our customer and client base. This has resulted in maintaining existing clients while building new clients through excellent service. 

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

To succeed in business today you need to be flexible, and have good planning and organisational skills. 

Providing good service to your customers is crucial to gaining their loyalty and retaining their business.

What kind of advertising do you do?

Alchemy Virtual Media has been a revelation in terms of supporting advertising on our digital platform. This has given the brand the necessary mileage in terms of showcasing our craftsmanship to our target audience. 

What is your company’s vision?

To be the preferred supplier in terms of high-quality upholstery in the region.

What is your target market?

Domestic and commercial markets which includes households and businesses.

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

Tapping into my creativity, learning a different skill and having the opportunity to work with some of the most renown fabric houses and designers in Gqeberha.  

Then there is also the personal touch with clients, being involved from  the conceptual design phase, to the execution of the clients’ design.

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

Social media grants my business the opportunity to humanise our brand and build meaningful connections with our clients.

How many people do you employ?

I have five employees. 

Do you have any plans to expand the business and how would you go about this?

Yes,  I am passionate about empowering people and am thinking of how the business could be used as a training ground for preservation of the skills required to sustain the industry. Building a broader skills set would enable expansion. 

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

Employees are at the heart of the business’s success; always be receptive to feedback, whether from clients, stakeholders or employees.  

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

The advantages would be the familiarity of the city, proximity of suppliers and the general contacts one has built up over the years.

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

Discipline, dedication and determination. This will enable someone to become gritty to have passion to persevere.

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

Being responsible in the way you go about your business is a key ingredient for success.

Integrity and ethics are the most important aspects to business sustainability.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

The upholstery business is an industry which unlocks all aspects of  creativity  in all individuals involved in the process, regardless of which step of the process they are involved in.

People with a diverse range of skills are able to showcase their skills and precision in producing an aesthetically pleasing end product.

All of this is produced in an ordinary workshop.

The industry has the ability  to unlock potential and  produce creative minds and hand skills fit enough to produce stylish end products to convert a house into a home.

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