Determination to recover from a family tragedy helped launch rapidly expanding Aquadex Africa, led by husband and wife business team Alan Jamieson and Marie Allen.
Aquadex is the licensed distributor of Flexiteek decks in Southern Africa. It was founded just three years ago and now operates out of a bustling facility in Somerset West.
The couple attribute their success largely to a gritty resolve to overcome an emotional setback in 2015 shortly before a trip to Mallorca when Alan’s son committed suicide in the UK. They took on the Flexiteek account shortly afterwards, hoping it would prove to be a healing distraction. “Aquadex was birthed from a tragic event which led us on a new path of discovery and growth into unchartered waters,” the couple said in a joint statement sent to SABBEX.
“Torn between cancelling the trip or continuing as planned to meet the rest of his family over there, we eventually decided to go,” the couple said. During the trip they were offered the Flexiteek account for Southern Africa, and jumped at the chance to distract themselves from their loss. “Alan was desperately looking for a distraction and something to focus on after losing his son and was hooked on the idea immediately,” they said in their statement.
Upon their return to South Africa they registered Aquadex Africa, and within a few months were jetting off again, this time to Sweden to meet Flexiteek International President and chief executive Tomas Gustaffson to seal the distributorship deal. Then began the difficult task of setting up marketing channels and a client base back in South Africa. “After a lot of cold calling, emails, phone calls and skepticism from the industry, we slowly but surely started to make inroads into the market here in Cape Town and got a few small orders,” they said. “The decking for the first few orders we got in had to be made in the UK and shipped out to us to fit as we did not have our own premises or equipment yet. Then in April of 2016, with only 1 employee, we moved into our own workshop in Somerset West where we manufactured our 1st Flexiteek deck.”
“Some of our first clients was Maverick Yachts, Nexus Yachts and High and Dry, thereafter we were fortunate to secure a very large deck for Southern Winds Shipyards and another for a Saudi Arabian Ship the Al Shoua up in Durban. This was a big break for us as we had just been through a few tough months with cashflow problems and these put us back on our feet.”
The couple also benefited from the chance to supply directly to Robertson & Caine, allowing them to increase local production. Their client base grew and is now countrywide.
“It has not been an easy road, a lot of stressful days, sleepless nights and long hours but we are proud of what we have achieved so far and in the growth of our company over the short three years we have been in business,” they said in summary. “Aquadex was birthed out of a tragedy but we want it to be a beacon of hope and an encouragement to others to reach for the stars and to realize that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”