Like most endeavours, Shutterway came from humble beginnings. It all started with an idea by Gray Holland; an idea to upscale the aesthetics of home security to something premium, stylish, and most importantly, something extremely secure.
Today, Shutterway and its ever-expanding team of experienced, passionate staff have moved on from the old church hall in the backstreets of Mowbray, Cape Town, where the business idea was originally born in 2007, to a much larger and more production-intensive premises in Paarden Island.
We caught up with CEO Andre Holland to discuss the company’s past, present, and future:
Hi Andre, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions! First off, why Shutterway? At what moment did you realise that this was a venture you wanted to pursue and grow?
When I joined the business the concept was very new, with only a few jobs having been completed. The focus of the business at that time was on stainless steel balustrading. As mentioned, we had a very small factory, an old church hall, and only three staff. I don’t even think the premises had the proper zoning rights! The balustrading work was steadily declining, perhaps a trend in the industry heading more towards glass, and we saw the potential for a stylish looking security barrier in the market.
Do you have any memories that stick out from the early days of Shutterway? It must have been an intensive learning curve!
Indeed! Being such a small team, there was an incredible amount of cross-over. The welder was also the installer, and the CEO was also the guy walking the streets dropping flyers in post boxes, scouting for the next order!
Our old factory wasn’t in the best neighbourhood, and I had built the company a website showcasing us as a premium manufacturer. Needless to say, when we received customer enquiries to visit our factory, we answered “no don’t worry – we’ll come to you!” We’ve come a long way since then.
Fronting such a large company must come with many highs, and equally, lows. Could you tell us a few of them and how you pick yourself up after disappointment and “rally the troops”?
Sure. The positive client feedback that we receive is definitely a high – it gives one a great sense of achievement when both one’s service and end product is so appreciated. We operate in a market where we are often dealing with a “grudge purchase”, so getting such positive feedback is sometimes surprising. We do try a bit harder, and when people recognise that, it feels good.
I’m also grateful of the small steps we have taken towards corporate social responsibility. We have become involved with The Life Matters Foundation, an education intervention initiative, and giving a small bit towards an organisation that does such great work in areas where many drop-outs-turned-criminals are coming from feels as though, in a very small way, we can contribute to some positive stories coming from these communities instead.
On the lows, having to deal with some staff that haven’t quite fit the Shutterway team dynamic has been a bit tough. They have a way of almost self-ejecting after a while though.
When it comes to rallying the troops – much of the positive client feedback is shared with our staff in our weekly meetings, together with sharing of ideas and improvements. This really lends to a culture of excellence which we have seen develop amongst our staff.
On that point – what’s some of the best feedback you’ve received from clients?
We have had some really great feedback over the years – people have been really impressed with not only the end product they receive, but the entire process from first contacting us to placing their order and receiving delivery. Our approach to service is that we give service in the way that we would want to receive service as the customer. It seems that service in the building industry generally has a bad reputation, and we love breaking the mould and pleasantly surprising our customers. Have a look at some of our client feedback on our testimonials page.
Amazing story! Where do you see the company in 5 years, and what are your short-term goals?
Our short term goals are to continue on our path of organic growth, as the Shutterway brand becomes continuously better known and recognized, and to radically increase our production capacity. At the same time we still aim to remain a niche and highly customized manufacturer, and to not drop those service levels with an ever-increasing customer base. We aren’t the biggest, the fastest, and by far we aren’t the cheapest. However, in our pursuit to be the best security provider, we don’t believe we can be any of these other things. And we are okay with that.
We would also like to spread our geographical area to cover new markets, and continue work in the research and development space to continually build better products.
Thanks Andre, do you have any final words to share with us before you go?
Thanks. Just a quote I like: “If they give you ruled paper, write the other way!”