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Updated 28 Sep 2020

Dorian Isaacson: A step up on the success ladder

Local really is lekker when Dorian Isaacson's business, Isaacson’s Ladders grew 10 fold by manufacturing locally.

27 November 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

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Dorian Isaacson is the owner of Isaacson’s Ladders. He started the business in 2011 on an import and distribute model and after a year had less than a million rand in turnover and was moving a tiny 400 ladders a month.

This was not the business he had in mind and needed to change the model if he wanted to survive.

“My model was based on high-volume/low margins and involved importing ladders by the container load and selling them with a mark-up.”

Problem was, import duties and the incredibly long time it took to receive stock meant the business was hamstrung.

“I came across Raizcorp’s Fast Forward Programme, which would involve two years of intensive incubation, mentoring and training, and knew it was my opportunity to to turn my business around.”

Major changes ahead

Though Isaacson had moved his business from Cape Town to Joburg to help improve sales, the major shift came in the business model:

“We realised we could get a lot more aluminium sheets in a container than assembled ladders, so we made the decision to shift from an import model to local manufacture.

"Through the Raizcorp programme I was able to network and land investors who gave the necessary capital injection to get the manufacturing plant operating.”

Isaacson then encountered a whole new set of challenges once he brought the business local:

“In 2014 the NUMSA strike dealt a huge blow to the business. My guys were being intimidated and couldn’t come to work during the day, so we had to work night shifts to keep up with production.

"Trouble was, we were carrying minimal stock to free up money to spend on the business, but when the strike hit we didn’t have enough stock to keep up with demand. It put a lot of pressure on the business and opened my eyes to its vulnerabilities.

"We then made another strategic decision to carry four weeks of surplus stock – although it ties up some money, it mitigates the risk of running out of stock should there be more strike action.”

In the time since Isaacson shifted his model and stream-lined operations, his turnover has grown in excess of R10 million per annum and manufactures 48 0000 ladders. 

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