Develop a reputation of trust, reliability and integrity - it draws quality clients. Establish an internal culture of family, hard work and fun - it draws great staff
ROB LOVEMORE, the co-founder and joint-CEO of Lovemore Brothers, was briefly involved in the rigging industry whilst working as a young mechanical engineer.
He saw an opportunity to start a rigging and machine moving business in the Durban market, and he and his brother Bruce - who he asked to join him to take the initiative forward - swiftly formed a partnership. Rigging, a practical, detailed process, would suit their personality traits and training. The business offered independence, and an opportunity to make money. They created an infrastructure and put the elements of business together before starting to trade in 1989.
Rob wanted "well coloured and well labeled" branding for the business. "Right from the start we were Citigolf blue and we stuck our Lovemore name to it, I saw the potential for connecting this name to a brand," he says. They liked the old fashioned "Brothers" part of the name. They initially added a "Parks Board Rhino" to the name, but in an inspired moment, with luck, we changed it to a crane. This was not because of the connection to our mechanical cranes, but to have a name close to nature. Then we made the connection, and our friends and family thought it was fantastic."
In the early years, the partners were responsible for different functions, Rob focusing on finances, strategy and marketing, and Bruce on operations and staff matters. Rob reflects, "We are a great pairing, we think differently and complement each other. We are a great team."
As the business grew organically and expanded into new geographical areas, both partners started assuming responsibility for all functions in different regions. The management style was initially fairly autocratic, also due to the management structures. In recent years more supporting and senior management structures were introduced. More responsibilities were handed down to young managers. Rob remarks, "The young management team is competent and reliable, they will carry the business further and ensure its sustainability."
Rob believes part of the reason they keep customers is that he and Bruce are determined and detailed individuals. "It was easy, almost instinctive, to deliver outstanding service, and that led to the development of a trusted reputation." This trust enabled them to quickly pass their competitors. "The service did come at a price for the customer, but also fair value." The nature of the business keeps Rob motivated. He believes he and Bruce are entrepreneurs and contractors by nature, it is in their DNA. They have an innate desire to deliver an end product.
"We like the management elements, well skilled people that are coordinated, and using complex equipment. Rigging is an unusual business, a niche part of the mechanical engineering world. People don't imagine the process of establishing a factory, the heavy bulky pieces of equipment or machinery for which one must find a way to get it into the factory," Rob says. "Every lift is slightly different, we love the challenge and are stimulated by it," he enthuses.
When asked what is most important in his line of work, Rob replies that is integrity and your character. He believes it is important to create a good environment to work in, create a sense of family, make employees proud of where they are, and give them a sense of belonging in a fair place.
Rob's advice to someone new to business is that one's focus and commitment to the process must be unrelenting. Attention to detail is essential.
It is important for Rob to take holidays to relieve high workloads and stress conditions. For him there is always a great trip ahead to look forward to. His adventurous character is evident as he says. "I love the winding road, not the straight road. A horizon I am not sure of. I like not knowing what is at the other side of the hill."
Rob believes part of the reason they keep customers is that he and Bruce are determined and detailed individuals. "It was easy, almost instinctive, to deliver outstanding service, and that led to the development of a trusted reputation." This trust enabled them to quickly pass their competitors.