MOBILE PANEL BEATER
IT TOOK the simple profit gained from selling a flat to launch Ntuthuko Shezi as one of Gauteng's fastest- growing entrepreneurs.
Shezi, 29, is managing director of Scratchmobile, a panel-beating company based at the OR Tambo International Airport.
He started the concept of having a mobile panel-beating business with his late partner Nhlanhla Mbele in 2006.
Shezi used the R300000 he got from selling his flat in the city centre.
At that time he was working as a manager at Accenture, a management consulting firm in Johannesburg, after graduating in 2001 from the University of Cape Town in electronic-mechanical engineering.
"When we started our customers would call us out to their places to fix their cars there," Shezi said.
"It was hard because back then we only had one van and we did not have the spray booth. When it rained it was a problem for the paint on the car to dry."
But they persevered until they got help through Alexander Forbes' "Adopt a Panel Shop" programme, which provided them with a spray booth.
The spray booth provides hot air after the vehicle has been spray-painted to make the paint stick to the body of the vehicle.
The booth came when Shezi started operating from the airport in 2007.
But it has not been easy for the entrepreneur to move from a single van to a R1million turnover a month for Scratchmobile.
Customers at the airports want their cars done by a particular time and no excuses can be accepted.
"We would often work on cars until 3am so that we could gain the confidence of our customers and it paid off," Shezi said.
But this put a strain on the staff who had to work long hours to deliver on the promises Shezi made to customers.
"My workers bought into my vision and understand that it's all about making the customer happy," he said.
Today Scratchmobile offers panel beating to bumpers, mirrors, polishing and fitting of glass.
If the car also needs mechanical attention Shezi calls in a mechanic to fix the car from his premises.
Scratchmobile employs 24 people with a branch in Durban and one to be opened in Cape Town in April.
Shezi has placed a scout at the airports driveway who spots the cars with dents and immediately introduces Scratchmobile services to the driver.
An average of 10 cars get into Scratchmobile a day. The driver can then fetch his car fully fixed and washed the next day.