Deashini (Dee) Moonsamy is the proud mom of two adult sons. Her eldest son is 27 and he is a chartered accountant, her youngest son is 21 years old and he is in his third year studying electrical engineering at the University of Pretoria. Dee says that her husband is also an entrepreneur and he’s her ‘go to life partner in business’.
Dee’s journey began in 1995 when she worked with her husband at Morgans Transport in Port Shepstone. After gaining valuable experience in the transport sector, the couple realised that there was a lack of diesel mechanics in the area. They decided to bridge that gap and open their own workshop to do all their in-house repairs.
“Our workshop rapidly grew into a thriving and lucrative venture, we are now still doing work for Mercedes, Volvo, Man Trucks and many other prominent transporters in the area,” explained Dee.
However, they noticed that they were experiencing a huge problem in sourcing parts to service these trucks. So said Dee, “We took another bold step and opened Hydratool in 2009. Initially it started as a joint venture, but due to work constraints, my husband could not cope, and I was left to run Hydratool by myself.”
Hydratool specialises in industrial filtration, lubrication, pneumatic and power tools, and all hydraulic components. The company caters to the mining, agricultural, construction, manufacturing, and the automotive sectors.
Learning the ropes
Dee said that she had no clue as to what she was getting herself into, especially as back then it was a male dominated industry. She explained, “I had to quickly learn the ropes and figure how I would succeed. I was not knowledgeable in hydraulics or filtration. I was used to extracting information from spread sheets and processing balance sheets, doing cash flow statements. I didn’t even know how to do a stock take.”
In addition, Dee said, back then her boys were 13 and 7 years old; she was juggling being a mother and trying her best to make this venture work. “Google and YouTube became my new friends,” explained Dee with a smile. However, her success meant that she had suppliers approaching her and giving her sole distributorship to sell their products. “That empowered me to thrive. I was given the Donaldson Filtration distributorship in 2013 and was awarded in 2014 for Top sales in KZN. Today I’m the only woman in KZN that still has the Donaldson filtration distributorship,” explained Dee.
Dee is deeply involved in a collaboration with the TVET Colleges and Trade schools, where her company supplies these institutions with all the necessary workshop apparatus needed to complete their syllabus and curriculum. “We are committed to supporting the learning journey of these students. We conduct apprenticeship programmes for students to offer the hands-on experience and practical knowledge that supplements their theoretical education,” explained Dee.
Consequently, they have been successful in producing many qualified diesel mechanics, welders, workshop assistants and other artisans. They are also involved in teaching people how to drive heavy duty vehicles.
“I remember doing my first driver training lesson in 1996 on an Iveco Truck. I also drove an Actros with a super-link timber trailer from Port Shepstone to Harding when I was pregnant with my first child,” recalled Dee.
“Being a part of these initiatives is incredibly rewarding as we are not only helping the students gain valuable skills, we are empowering them to pursue successful careers.”
Dee says that her journey has been shaped by sheer determination, a strong work ethic and a deep passion for what she does. “The pursuit of innovation and continuous learning has kept me inspired. The evolving nature of business pushes me to stay ahead of new technologies. My drive to innovate has kept our business relevant and also fostered a culture of growth within our team.”
In addition, says Dee, her mom has been her biggest motivator. “She always says I was never born to fail. My family has been a constant pillar of strength, always encouraging me.” Dee’s husband provides her with the strategic guidance when she needs it and her mother-in-law often provides support.
Business challenges have presented Dee with the opportunity for growth and leaning. “My initial challenge was establishing Hydratool in a competitive market. Building a reputation and gaining the trust of clients required constant effort. Economic fluctuation has also been a challenge as most of our products are imported and based on the dollar rate. Market uncertainties have impacted the demand for our products. To overcome this, we’ve had to focus on diversifying our product range and expanding our client base across different industries.”
“Ultimately the challenges I have faced have taught me to remain resilient and proactive, rather than seeing these challenges as roadblocks, I have chosen to see them as opportunities,” explained Dee.
Looking ahead Dee is dedicated to giving back to the community that has supported her. She plans to expand their community initiatives with the TVET colleges and trade schools, offering more educational and skill building opportunities. She is also hoping that when her son completes his degree in electrical engineering that he will start a programme for these colleges.
To young women, Dee says, that there is one person in the world that you will be spending your entire life with and that’s yourself. “So take care of your mind, take care of your health and always be proud of who you are. Learning to manage your time will be key to your success. Remember that your journey is uniquely yours and each step you take contributes to your own growth.”
Dee enjoys reading in her spare time and unwinds by spending time with friends. She also enjoys knitting and crocheting as well as spending time in her garden. She added that she loves going on holidays.
Being part of KZN Top Business Women allows her the opportunity to commemorate all her achievements.