Owner of Supa Quick Hillcrest, Angie Frederic's foray into entrepreneurship has been a long road that began in childhood.
“I am a Durban girl born and bred, the third of five children and we often battled financially,” she says. “I remember that even as a young girl my goal was to make a success of my future self, but as I grew up I came to realise that success is more than just your bank balance, but it’s a healthy, happy family and genuine supportive friends,” says Frederic.
Her journey started in 2005 when she was employed as the Second in Command at the Bridgestone KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Regional Office. The operation was made up of a sales office, warehouse and technical bay that supported the 45 Supa Quick stores in KZN, as well as Toyota’s Durban manufacturing plant.
With a background in accounting and sales, the position gave her an opportunity to grow her skills further by diversifying into a business management role with some technical knowledge elements.
“I found the industry very exciting and it intrigued me that an employee with 40 years’ of service was nothing out of the ordinary in this space,” she says. “After 11 years at the regional office I decided that I needed a new challenge and seeing that it had always been a goal of mine to be an entrepreneur, I felt that opening a Supa Quick store would allow me to achieve this lifelong goal.”
She went on a mission to find a suitable site for her Supa Quick as she knew that the location was a major part of the success of any store. She was lucky enough to secure a site in Hillcrest, Durban that was located along the main road.
The building came with a few challenges, one being that the ceiling was too low to jack up vehicles and the space upstairs needed a purpose so that it could be maximised.
Frederic consulted with a number of experts until she came up with the solution to lower the floor to compensate for the low ceiling, which worked perfectly.
Her second challenge of finding some purpose for the extra space upstairs turned into a unique opportunity when she was also faced with the difficulty of finding staff with highly specialised skills for the new shop.
“To maximise this great space, I decided to start a training school for the tyre industry and the upstairs area was perfect for what I needed,” she says. “I am proud to say that my training school is now accredited by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) and I am excited to teach the valuable skills that will contribute to creating jobs in South Africa.”
However, three-years into running the business these feelings of doubt faded and she started to leverage her unique abilities, with the understanding that women and men bring different qualities to business, which complement each other.
She now serves on the Supa Quick Council, representing all the KZN Supa Quick stores and is the only female on the council, well-respected and valued by her fellow male council members.
We chat to Angie Frederic to find out about her journey...
What did you want to be when you grew up?
While growing up, I had my heart set on being a professional ballet dancer – gosh how different did things turn out!
Could you describe a typical day in your job?
I don’t know if I can call my days normal, but that is what I love about my business – my days can be very unpredictable. They include going to Johannesburg for Supa Quick National Council meetings or RMI meetings (where I serve as the chairperson), as well as running my training school and helping customers who need tyres, batteries, brakes or shocks. I am very busy and would not have it any other way.
Are South African women getting enough of a chance to shine in the automotive industry?
We are not yet there, but we have made great strides. Companies such as Bridgestone and other leading organisations in the automotive industry have been transforming and providing opportunities for women through their transformation agenda.
As a female entrepreneur in the automotive industry, what’s the least and most exciting aspect of your workday?
Women are often a largely underutilised resource in the automotive industry. The most exciting aspect of my workday is how and what can be done to change this in the industry. If I am honest, I can’t think of any aspect of my job that I don’t find exciting – I am deeply passionate about everything.
Women are natural problem solvers. Do you think this is perfect for the automotive industry?
Yes, of course, consumers want to build a relationship with their “tyre guy”. Solving problems that arise with the least amount of disruption to their day-to-day lives goes a long way to building this relationship.
Could you list a few, if any, specific challenges females face in this industry?
I must be honest that, at first, I battled with my own confidence issues, thinking that I was not technical enough to be respected in the industry. However, after three years of owning my shop, this had changed dramatically. Women and Men bring different aspects to business which often complement each other. I also serve on the Supa Quick Council representing the KZN stores. I am the only lady on the council, and I feel that my input is valued by my fellow male council members.
What is your advice for overcoming these challenges?
Always grow your knowledge through short courses or articles. Observe what is going on around you. Listen to those that have been in the industry for a long time, as they are a foundation of knowledge and wisdom that you can’t get out of a book.
What advice do you have for the future generation of women wanting to get into the automotive space?
It is challenging, dynamic and innovative with great rewards. I would advise the future generation to give a career in the automotive industry a chance or pursue it. There are learning and upskilling opportunities and never a dull day at the office.
You sit on the Supa Quick Council, representing all the KZN Supa Quick stores. What does this entail?
As Supa Quick Franchise Owners we have a financial interest in the Supa Quick brand so, it was necessary to set up a forum whereby franchise owners could have input into the future goals and visions for the brand.
The position entails a lot of meetings regarding strategies that will align the Supa Quick brand with our mission statement “To be the undisputed number one market leader within the fitment industry.”
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