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If you’ve looked through our website, you’ve probably come to realize that we’re very proud of our company’s history and how much we’ve grown in the last four decades. We started out as a small business, with just a few employees, and we grew steadily over the years by focusing on the right things; quality, customer care, and fair employment practices. This is something very near and dear to our hearts, because we had many opportunities to grow in the wrong ways, but chose not to.
We could have brought on outside investors, but that could have undermined quality, so we funded operations from our own account. We could have focused on cutting costs and bringing cheap products to the market, but that would have hurt our customers. We could have paid our employees rock bottom salaries, but that would destroy morale. These were all strategies doomed to failure, and strategies we avoided with great effort because our view is that a business is all about creating value and thinking up new ways of making people’s lives better. Whether it’s our customers, our agents, or our employees – at the end of the day, our job is to fulfill the needs of ALL our stakeholders.
When Jan and Miriam Grobler founded the company in 1976, South Africa was under Apartheid rule. It was a difficult time for our country, a time fraught with economic instability and violence that hurt many families. Unfortunately, this economic instability reverberated for many years. To this day, South Africa is dealing with much economic uncertainty; with 1 in 4 citizens unemployed, and many challenges for families who are just trying to survive and hang on to hope for a brighter future.
Though there are many contentious political issues in South Africa, we don’t pretend to understand all the issues faced by the country, and we don’t focus on the politics. We’re not politicians – we make roofs and gazebos. So instead, we focus on our employees and finding ways to make their lives better, to give them stability, and a way to support their families in these tough economic times.
It’s not just because we want to be nice, but because treating people with respect, and giving them opportunities to earn a good living is what helps us build our company’s family culture. Our employees care more about their work because they are valued members of our team – not just names on paper. And everybody wins at the end: clients, because our factory staff put their heart and soul into their work; our employees, because they don’t have to worry so much about how to make ends meet; and us, because we can focus on innovation, rather than dealing with unhappy customers or staff.
This balanced approach that focuses on ALL stakeholders of our company is what helped us build Fiber Roofing into the company that it is today. In a country where nearly 20 million people are unemployed, our operations help over 1,000 to survive, literally. This is why we don’t outsource and why we work so hard to avoid mistakes: there are many, many people who depend on our company running smoothly.
And yes, it’s easy to become cynical in difficult times. 1,000 families is just a drop in the bucket compared to 20 million unemployed, but cynicism is a defense mechanism that never leads to real solutions – and that’s something we don’t accept. Our goal is to take care of our clients, but to make sure that our employees are taken care of as well. It is the business model of the 21st Century, and we intend to grow it by leaps and bounds in the coming years.