Decades of successful hardware

Kwa-Mnqandi Mica

A highly successful hardware business Kwa-Mnqandi Mica, located in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal is jointly owned by George Bond and John Carter boasts a history that dates back many decades.

Norman Bond – a long time resident of Nongoma has been a trader in this part of KwaZulu-Natal for many years. In the 1970’s the government wanted all whites out of Nongoma and started buying all white owned stores. Norman had a good relationship with both the King (King Goodwill Zwelithini) and the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and managed to get permission to continue trading.

John Carter in the meantime was working on his family farm near Pongola, but decided to move to Nongoma in the mid 70’s and approached Norman with the view to open up a new wholesale and hardware business alongside Norman’s trading store. On a handshake the agreement was concluded and in 1981 John started the wholesale and hardware business focusing mainly on food wholesale. Denise Carter – John’s wife – was eight and a half months pregnant with her son, Brad, when the store opened but this did not deter her. She was in store packing shelves up until she went into labour – even in hospital she was signing documents for the store.

George Bond, Norman’s son, worked in the wholesale operation from its inception. In the mid 80’s they made a decision to split the wholesale and hardware into two separate stores. George took over the management of the hardware store and John remained with the wholesale division – now solely focused on food.

George became a partner in the hardware business in the early 90’s. As the years went by it became evident that the hardware store was in demand but the margins in the wholesale section were very small, so they decided to do away with the wholesale division.

In 2011 with the added yard and store space available solely for hardware, they took the plunge and expanded the store from 1000m2 under roof, to 3500m2 under roof – and the yard was also made larger. The store front was now on the main street, something the hardware had never offered before. This road frontage provided much needed visibility to lure in more business, which added to their continued growth and success.

In early 2017, Norman passed away at the age of 89 and was given a hero’s funeral from the Nongoma residents who held him in extremely high regard. The entire town came to a standstill with a donkey cart funeral procession travelling through the centre of the town in his honour.

With the death of Norman, John and George became equal partners. The business joined the Mica stable some 20 years ago as their customers were brand conscious and joining Mica gave them extra credibility amongst their already loyal clients. Brad and Greg Carter both joined the business in 2004 and are now very actively running it with George (John has basically retired and has interests in other businesses). Having been in this part of the world for much of their lives both Carter sons speak fluent Zulu and can converse with their customers, hear their needs and ensure they deliver. There is always at least one of them on the shop floor at any time.

The success of Kwa-Mnqandi Mica Build is evident from the Mica Head office awards that the store has been achieving in the past couple of years. In 2016 it won ‘the Mica Growth’ award for the region and in 2017 it won the ‘Mica Growth’ award again – plus it won an award for being one of the Top five through put stores– and recognised with the most prestigious, ‘Store of the Year’ award – the top award for any retailer in the group.

Brad and Greg Carter attribute their success to thinking out of the box, running innovative promotions and to the support they have received from their suppliers.

In 2017 they have already run three promotions. The first being the ‘Hamba Kahle’ promo, which ran on 30 June, the late Norman Bond’s birthday. They ran another promo early in October and then the biggest ever on 20 November – this promotion was widely advertised with broadsheet flyers being distributed far and wide. The Carters enlisted the help of their loyal suppliers and secured phenomenal deals for their clients. Brad cannot stop singing the praises of their suppliers and their willingness to help out, deliver at short notice and call regularly (despite Nongoma being off the beaten track). Brad recognises that the suppliers are key to their success and acknowledges their input.

With this help and the marketing hype around the day the promotion was a phenomenal success – way exceeding even the most optimistic expectations. The store was abuzz, long ques forming at all the checkout points, but everyone in good spirits with boerewors rolls being handed out along with gifts from participating suppliers. The yard was a hive of activity with bakkies lined up for hundreds of metres waiting to collect. It appeared as if every Nongoma citizen was at Kwa-Mnqandi Mica Build on the 20th.

That evening the Bond and Carter families hosted the suppliers for a celebration dinner. In an unprecedented move by the hardware store owners, they took the initiative to award its suppliers for their support and loyalty. The total value of the gifts handed out that night were valued at R70 000, the main prize going to Powafix as ‘Supplier of the Year’, for which they won prizes valued over R30 000.

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