EDWARD COLLE, after completing his studies at Stellenbosch, Colle spent four years working in one of his mother's businesses before officially joining Belgotex. He views this time as vital to his professional development, and the broad foundation he gained in this smaller business has stood him in good stead in his career at Belgotex.
Belgotex was founded in the 1950s and evolved into a multi-national corporate spanning five continents. Despite being brought up in the flooring industry and being the third generation in this family-owned business, Colle earned his stripes before being promoted to the executive team. Starting on the factory floor, he moved slowly through the business, taking learnings from each stage of his journey and getting to know the staff on a personal level.
Colle has spent the last eleven years with Belgotex and was appointed as CEO of Belgotex in August 2018. He has a passion for the industry which motivates him daily and is committed to building the company's brand. Sustainability in all aspects of the business is central to the way Belgotex does business. Colle brings a unique perspective to the business.
He is acutely aware of the value of multiple insights and diversity of opinion, and says this inclusive attitude allows him to have an objective view of the world. This embodies his philosophy that there is no black or white in life and that your experiences and exposure to life are going to inform your perspective. Colle has a progressive management style and strongly supports the concept of the win-win approach. He has a clear vision for the future of Belgotex and the company continually strives to develop the business and inspire their people to achieve the unimaginable.
Colle credits his ability to empathise with others, and trying to understand other people's viewpoints, as a strength that he contributed to his success. He points out that challenging the status quo is not always plain sailing, but by doing so they create greater opportunities and a greater meaning in what they do. "When facing challenges," says Colle, "managing your frustrations and focusing on your objectives are essential."
The "Belgotex Green Journey" was initiated well before he joined the company, and he is committed to taking it to the next level. He views the environmental sustainability of the business as best practice, and as a never-ending journey. "On a fundamental level, if we cannot look after our planet and the society that occupies it, we will have a very dysfunctional set of circumstances which will put immense pressure on business, as the environment will not be conducive to any form of growth."
Belgotex believes wholeheartedly in a 'hand-up' rather than a 'hand-out' approach, and Colle is co-founder of the Belgotex Foundation which was established seven years ago. The Foundation's focus was initially focused on three key areas: wildlife conservation, early childhood development and economic upliftment through vocational training, but has recently morphed into something much bigger. "We're proud to be associated with initiatives that support the efforts of communities and individuals to improve their socio-economic circumstances," says Colle. "And we have the opportunity to make a significant difference in society through the scale we've created."
On a personal level, Colle and his wife Sarah are embarking on a 90-hectare agricultural restoration project. Sarah is a chef by profession so has always had a passion for food. Their plan is to run a training facility for the community in which they live so that these skills can be transferred and create a restaurant and deli which serves all the local ingredients to its patrons.
"I'm not sure that we will ever find the perfect balance in life between work, family and social," says Colle, "but we try to juggle these three balls as effectively as possible."