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Life begins at

Brights Hardware celebrated its 40th birthday in June. It marked the occasion by taking part in an extreme makeover project for Haven’s Shelter in Mitchells Plain – a haven for abused women and children. CEO Orlando Luis tells us more about it, his joy at marking the occasion in such a special way, and wider community work. He also discusses what makes Brights so successful, franchise opportunities and why he is optimistic about the future… life really does begin at 40! By Ian Armitage 2

Brights Hardware FEATURE


s the saying goes life begins at 40, just ask those at Brights Hardware – it entered its fifth decade in June. Brights, as you would expect, took the opportunity to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into establishing the business as a leading name on the Western Cape. It marked the occasion at its (then) four branches (it now has five… we’ll get onto that) and customers were able to enjoy an array of specials, discounts and other deals and offers. The Brights Hardware family, however, started celebrating some months before – and in a very different way, CEO Orlando Luis tells South Africa Magazine. “As fun as celebrations are, we wanted to do more than just throw a party or offer special deals and savings,” he explains. So, between March and May last year, Brights took part in a special project in partnership with New Kidz on the Block – an “extreme makeover” project for Haven’s Shelter in Mitchells Plain, a haven for abused women and children. “The management team, the family and staff wanted to celebrate the occasion and make sure the 40th birthday was one to remember,” says Luis. “We embarked on an adventure to give back to the community of Cape Town. Essentially, we wanted to show our gratitude for the past 40 years of Brights growing from strength to strength in the Western Cape and we decided the best way to do that was to invest in a project that could help transform lives. We chose to become part of an extreme makeover project for Heaven’s Shelter in Mitchells Plain.” Staff, suppliers and customers alike - all eager to contribute embraced the concept.

“It was amazing to see our staff, loyal suppliers, clients and even volunteers came together on this,” Luis says. “We are very proud to have been part of it and we aim to continue to help in the future.” Luis, who is the same age as the company, says Brights, which opened its first warehouse in Stikland in 1995, has grown considerably over the years. And it continues to expand. “We’ve a long-standing and proud history,” he says. “The business was founded in 1971 by parents - Mr and Mrs Luis. It started out as a general dealer specialising in electrical contracting and repairs. Through the years we’ve grown into a multi-faceted outlet for all building material and hardware needs.” Brights opened its first franchise store in Plattekloof in 2006. In 2009, it opened one in Blackheath, complete with Garden Centre and Drive Thru Yard, and it acquired Northern Trusses (now Brights Trusses) in the same year. At the end of last year, Brights opened a brand new franchise store in Uitzicht, Durbanville. “Months of preparations went into this store and it is now introducing a whole new community to a real hardware store,” says Luis, outlining the move. “The Uitzicht branch carries on the Brights tradition of great value for money, friendly advice and excellent customer service. Offering everything that customers have come to expect.” He says Brights’ motto ”more than just a hardware store” has played a significant part in its expansion. “Our product range has grown from 5,000 stock items to over 50,000 and that is down to listening to our clients. If they came in for a product and we didn’t have it then we made sure we did for their next visit. In that sense we have grown with them, always striving to offer the


Brights Hardware FEATURE

highest standards of service and be ‘more than a hardware store’.” And despite it’s growth, the business is still very much a family. The Luis children, their spouses and Brights staff members who are shareholders, own the Brights business today. This includes Orlando, Marina Da Silva (formerly Luis), Elsa Luis, Johnny Da Silva, Sergio Pedro, and Zulmira Pedro – all family members and part of the company’s management. Mrs Luis is visible too, working as founding director, and has devoted her time to training and upliftment of Brights’ staff, Luis says. Sadly Mr Luis passed away in 1998. He is still remembered as a leader with a great vision and bags of energy (his nickname was “Bright Spark”, from which the Brights’ mascot “Sparky” has been born). “We are a family,” says Luis. “We now have 500 people in that family and we have five stores throughout the Western Cape. “Brights is still a truly unique and friendly experience,” he adds. “The main thing is that customers are part of the family; they feel that they are part of us.” Luis is optimistic about the future and a pick up in the industry, following a “challenging” 2011. “I think tough years create character,” he says. “Our staff has grown a lot this year; we are trying to provide as much training and upliftment as possible. We understand success is in the people and the changes you make to the people in the long-term. Going for 40 years, we know all about it; our people have got us to where we are. 4

“In terms of our future, the Cape always has great opportunities,” he adds. “Off the back of the FIFA World Cup, we’ve seen visitor numbers rise and we hope that will translate into increased investment in the area and the property market. We have a very positive outlook for Cape Town and South Africa and think that the property market will improve. I have been around the world, to a number of places, and I have found that our quality of life, here, is like nowhere else. There isn’t a place better than Cape Town.” His vision is for the company is to continue developing and influencing their staff and growing their customer base in the Western Cape. “We want to take what we have developed and expand, opening new franchise stores,” Luis says. “When we open one, it is via an existing member of staff, who is looking to further their career and develop and we give them a huge amount of support. “Promoting from within means we get people that understand the brand and the business – Brights is in their blood, is part of them. Even in a recession we’ve opened a new store and we are looking at another now – maybe one a year, inviting staff to be involved in the running of those companies. “We have to ensure the quality and make sure Brights’ service never drops,” he concludes. “Our challenge has remained the same since we opened our doors in 1971 and that is to maintain the highest standards of customer service.” END

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