Monday, February 11, 2013

Hi-Tec opens new green head office in Cape Town

Kaapse Klopse at the opening of the new green Hi-Tec head office in Cape Town

Accompanied by the brassy sounds of a “Kaapse Klopse troep”, Hi-Tec SA general manager Mickey Mallett and international chairman and owner Frank van Wezel greeted their guests on the 7th of February at the opening of their new head office building in Cape Town.

From left to right: Mickey Mallet, daughters Amy and Erin Mallet and Frank van Wezel
Guests and customers came from near and far to celebrate the completion of the building, which Van Wezel describes as a “testimony to the South African yes, we can do it” attitude. When Mallett showed him a mud-filled hole in February last year and told him that they would move in in November, he thought “impossible!” said Van Wezel. “But they did it.”

Guests from near and far attended the opening
The double-storey building, jointly funded by Van Wezel and Mallett, has green lighting - e.g. with basement lights with motion sensors - and air conditioning, and has two big showrooms for the Hi-Tec and Magnum brands, a large board room for meetings and a canteen where all staff members can mingle during lunch hour.

While Frank van Wezel and his wife Caroline are familiar faces in Cape Town, where they spend a lot of time in their Camps Bay home, his son and current CEO, Ed van Wezel, and his wife, Melissa, also flew out for the launch and sales conference. As did Brad Lemkus - nowadays based in London - whose Lemkus Sports formed a joint venture with Van Wezel in 1985 to distribute Hi-Tec shoes in South Africa.

From left to right: Ed van Wezel (CEO), Brad Lemkus and chairman Frank van Wezel

Apart from strong contingents from Cape-based retailers like Cape Union Mart, Holdsport (Sportsmans Warehouse and Outdoor Warehouse), Tekkie Town founder Braam van Huyssteen came from George, Mallett’s parents came from East London and Hi-Tec agents and staff members from all over the country.

Amy Mallet, Erin Mallet, Penny Mallet, Frank's wife Caroline van Wezel and Mickey Mallet
Ken Lazarus from Cape Union Mart
 Caroline van Wezel (left) with Philip Krawitz (chariman of Cape Union Mart) and Brad Lemkus (right)

Juan Lombard (left) and Bradley Moritz (right) from Moresport

Andre Laubuschagne (left - CEO of Cape Union Mart) and Braam van Huyssteen (Tekkie Town)
Stan Swart (Hi-Tec agent) and Gordon Mallet (Mickey Mallet's father)

During the 38 years since he started the Hi-Tec brand in 1974, he has sold 260-m pairs of shoes, said Van Wezel – if the boxes are packed end to end, they will make a pathway from the earth to the moon and back, and back to the moon again. “Please buy more shoes, I don’t want to be stuck on the moon,” he urged customers.

With the contractions of the US economy and problems in Europe (notably Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy) Africa is one of the new markets Hi-Tec is exploring as a source of new growth. They are already active in Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria and view South Africa as their entry-point to the continent.

Other new markets that will contribute to future growth are Australia, South America and China, where their distributor in one day sold 10 400 pairs of Hi-Tec hiking boots over the internet. They have also recently opened a new US head office in Portland, where former South African marketing manager Ian Little is currently marketing manager.

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