Lucas Makhubela, Export Sales Representative at FloorworX, chatted to Africanism to discuss his career in the flooring industry to date as well as new ventures that he is pursuing at the company.
How did you get started in the flooring industry?
I joined Builders Warehouse as a sales consultant in the flooring department eleven years ago having no idea that that I would get hooked by the industry. I came to realise how different each flooring solution is, how much advice can help anyone from a DIY-er to a professional contractor, and quickly picked up on the challenges that can be overcome with a bit of expert guidance from a professional.
From my role as a sales consultant at Builders Warehouse, I received the opportunity to be mentored to become a Carpet Estimator and I quickly learned how to run my own flooring installation business. During that time, I learned a lot about the flooring installation industry and the carpet sector in particular. After two years of running my own business, I joined Mass Build (which owns Builders Warehouse) again as a Carpet Estimator.
During my second tenure at Builders Warehouse, the chance to join Nouwens Carpets as a sales representative knocked at my door. I worked at Nouwens Carpets in this role for four years until FloorworX offered me an exciting opportunity that allowed me to grow my career in another direction and see the flooring industry from a completely different point of view.
How did your new job lead to new ventures in the business?
I was initially appointed as an Internal Sales Administrator at FloorworX, where I focused on learning more about the culture and the DNA of the business. I have recently been appointed as Export Sales Representative for Africa and my primary mandate is to grow FloorworX’s footprint across the African continent and build long lasting relationships with our clients.
What do you think of the future of flooring in Africa?
Africa’s economy has seen positive growth and the continent is mostly stable. We continue to see increased investments from overseas into Africa and FloorworX is in the prime position to help companies create beautiful, long-lasting floors. I’m looking forward to Africa becoming a major player in the global economy.
What lessons did you learn early on in your career?
The importance of good communication with your client. The better you understand your client’s needs and their ultimate goal, the better solution you will be able to provide. Many times, flooring companies want to push their own products or forge ahead with the latest solution without making the time to really listen to the client.
Another thing I learned early is to never underestimate your competitor. To stay at the cutting edge of innovation, you need to continuously look at market trends and be the first to make a move. Don’t assume that your competitors are too caught up in the day to day running of their businesses to innovate. You need to make sure that you are the one innovating.
What is the key to innovation?
Don’t shy away from changes in the industry. Across the board, industries are changing thanks to globalisation and digital disruption. Now is the time when companies need to think outside the box and embrace change.
Do you have advice to people starting out in the industry?
Be passionate about flooring. There are so many things in the flooring industry to get excited about that it’s hard not to be passionate about your niche. I would also advise people starting out to focus on building their own personal brands. Network with people in the industry, educate others, share content online and become the go-to person for advice and input.
What are the challenges in the flooring sector at the moment?
Our country’s economy has been facing an uphill battle with the rising fuel prices. This has affected consumer spending, which has a trickledown effect on the disposable income of our consumers. Unfortunately, many people are settling for inferior quality because of budget constraints, which isn’t a good idea in the long run.
What are the flooring trends for 2019?
I predict that we will see a rise in the stone and concrete look next year.
For more information, contact FloorworX on Tel: +27 (11) 406 4024 or via www.floorworx.co.za