Put the Pink back in Paint

“ I want this country to be a success, and I want to help build it. We are not a big country, it is not rocket science to make it work, and we must just work together.”

Aldi Geldenhuis excuses herself to answer a phone call from one of the branches. After a couple of minutes she has given the person on the other side of the phone a lesson in sales. “ Now remember,” She tells the caller in a patient and humble voice, “ You are the clever one, you know how to do this, just believe in yourself.”

Aldi Geldenhuis and Marvelous Khumalo
Aldi Geldenhuis and Marvelous Khumalo

The CEO of @Paint and Operational head of Khuphula Pigments is an energetic 35 year-old who swaggers about her workforce comprising of over sixty percent female employees. “ Let me tell you, I am not ashamed to say that women are way more efficient than men, they can multi-task and they can organize. But I cannot live without my Marvelous.”  A young man comes in and shows Aldi a color chart. “This is Marvelous Khumalo, he is my right hand, my left hand and my knees.” She says, looking at the chart.  “I think we should go with the grey, as my father suggested.” Marvelous smiles generously and then leaves the room.

“You see, I am not a sexist, but you must remember, we work in the paint business, and some men are colorblind. Do you know that I as a mother can give birth to a colorblind boy, but we as females don’t suffer from the same thing?”

Johan Geldenhuis and his grandson Marcus
Johan Geldenhuis and his grandson Marcus

A middle-aged man enters the room with a little boy hanging onto his trousers. The little boy jumps onto Aldi’s lap and the man greets us in a strong and gentle voice. Johan Geldenhuis, Aldi’s father, is the mastermind behind @Paint and Khuphula Pigments. He has spent 20 years of his life working on a business plan that is now, finally ready to launch. The focus of the business plan is to create equal opportunities in the painting industry for rich and poor South-Africans, but also to create entrepreneurs and inspire people across the country to start their own businesses.

Aldi goes on to explain that @Paint is the first and only company in South –Africa that mixes paint of any quality and quantity, using powder. This makes the paint more affordable, while offering a state of the art product.

Mixing paint in @Paint
Mixing paint in @Paint

Gone are the days in which you have to settle for a color of paint that you do not really want, because you cannot afford to have paint outlets mix the colors you do want. What is more, and really exciting is that entrepreneurs in any part of the country; from Cape Town to Kakamas, to Nelspruit and Polokwane, can start up a paint factory. It is a pricy logistical nightmare to ship liters of paint to rural towns across the country. The paint shop owners in these towns hardly make profits, as the buying costs of paint are sky high and the local residents cannot afford a high mark-up.

Johan Geldenhuis has worked for twenty years to come up with a solution that will offer the same quality of paint at a much more affordable price, both to the retailer and the consumer. Khuphula Pigments manufactures the raw products and the new factory owner orders the raw product and the powders. @Paint provides the new entrepreneurs with training and to set up the basic infrastructure. The powders are easy to transport and high quantities can be ordered. The factory or outlet owners can also deign their own containers, branding and logos.

Khuphula Pigments and @Paint has now, with the launch of the entrepreneur initiative, become a supporter and sponsor of the Pink Stick campaign. “ There is such inequality when it comes to sport in South-Africa, and we really have a long way to go.” Johan says, “You don’t see half as many women in sport as men and they are not as celebrated on the field, as their male counterparts. I think it is time, we as players in the private sector use our networks and resources to support women in the sporting world” Johan says with conviction. “ And since I can not survive one week if I do not at least play one set of golf, I will not be such a happy man! So supporting women in golf is an honor to my company and me.

@Paint and Khuphula Pigments are only two companies in a family conglomerate of 13 companies, including civil engineering and construction enterprises.

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anina-peenswritten by Anina Peens freelance writer and producer

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