We’re suckers for a good success story. Who isn’t? Especially when it’s our own client’s success.
That’s why we chatted to the founder of Pepper Mills For Africa, Piet Smit, who told us all about their company’s success over the last few years. Here we’ll share with you how this retired banker turned his passion for woodwork into a profitable, full-time business. Pepper Mills For Africa isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill pepper grinder though. What was once just a small hobby for Piet, has now become the best supplier for pepper, salt and spice grinding businesses on the African continent.
Pepper Mills For Africa also just so happens to be our longest-standing client of over 15 years!
So, tell us, where did it all begin?
“It really all began way back in 1964 when an extraordinary woodwork teacher in my matric year gave me a passion and love for working with wood.”
And for 40 years throughout his successful banking career, Piet thought that one day he’d buy himself a bandsaw and do some woodturning again.
He had no idea how much he’d end up doing. Once retired, he thought about turning small bowls and making ashtrays, until he came to the realisation that EVERY HOUSEHOLD HAS GOT A PEPPER MILL THAT DOESN’T WORK!
Ain’t that the truth? So much so, that Pepper Mills For Africa often use this as their very convincing slogan.
Piet then searched high and low, around the world for the best salt and pepper grinder mechanism. Eventually, he found that perfect mechanism in Denmark and began importing them regularly.
And the rest is history! His small passion project slowly developed into a delightful (yet often hectic) small business so it just shows that solving a problem and being unique in your industry is crucial to the growth of your business.
What does Pepper Mills look like today?
“Today, I have trained up two employees over a number of years. They are Charlie and Hammer. We call him Hammer because at first, the only thing he didn’t break was the hammer!”, Piet said with a giggle.
What we also found so heartwarming about this story is that Charlie was originally Piet’s gardener and today, he’s not afraid to say that Charlie is much better at making pepper mills than he is.
But other than grinding away making pepper mills, the team also lectures and teaches craftsmen all around South Africa, training them on exactly how to fit the mechanism into a spice grinder. You wouldn’t believe how many hobbyists and craftsmen in Africa want to manufacture their own salt and pepper grinders, either for their own use, as gifts or to open their own small woodworking businesses.
Piet imports as much as 10 000 mechanisms every year, and sells roughly half of those to this wood turning industry and uses the rest for Pepper Mills For Africa.
How has WAPPoint contributed to the success of the business?
“In 2005, I met Andrew Kotzè (Director of WAPPoint) in Potchefstroom and from there on I started using WAPPoint as my sole merchant provider. Since then, I have never had any reason to make use of any other merchant service provider with absolutely no mistakes ever made over the past 15 years. WAPPoint’s most outstanding attribute is their service availability wherever, whenever you need them.”
We’re so happy to have been a part of this successful journey with Pepper Mills For Africa. And we hope to continue watching the company succeed, and being of support wherever we can, for the next 15 years and beyond.
What does the future look like for Pepper Mills?
“The future of Pepper Mills for Africa Pty Ltd is very bright but our capacity can hardly keep up with the demand for our spice grinders. We still want to retain the ‘hobby aspect’ of it.” With that being said though, Piet is contemplating the export market in the USA.
In recent news, Pepper Mills for Africa Pty Ltd was the winner of the CrushGrind Award 2019. You can check it out on Instagram.
“We are so blessed with this amazing hobby that gives us so much joy and with the support of WAPPoint it just makes payments seamless.”
We’re looking forward to seeing how Pepper Mills For Africa continuously crushes it! To learn more about Pepper Mills For Africa, visit their website, Facebook, or Instagram.