By Luke Folb
Image: Lizelle Lotter Photography
Garnet Christians can’t sit in an office all day: he likes to be hands-on, meeting with clients, drawing up quotes and physically doing the work for his co-owned temperature-controlled monitoring and calibration business, Acu-Temp.
He founded the business in 2014 along with two others and has grown the business year-on-year ever since inception. Acu-Temp provides temperature-controlled monitoring instruments from local and international suppliers and performs calibration, repairs and support services in the cold chain industry.
“I matriculated in 1995, and worked for a couple of companies, where I was a tester and then at another company where I was working on the calibration lab and doing testing and installations. In 2014, two of my other friends and I started Acu-Temp because I saw a gap in the market and the company, I was working for at the time, wasn’t offering a lot of growth in the company so I decided to start my own business,” explains Garnet.
Garnet is a Stellenbosch local and calls nearby Jamestown home, but he says Acu-Temp’s clients are varied with most of them coming from the Grabouw area.
“My biggest clients are based in Durban like the big export companies because when it comes to exporting, temperature is very important.”
Acu-Temp clients come from a range of industries that include cold storage facilities, hospitals, laboratory and industrial industries, abattoir and even Stellenbosch University.
The business has gone from strength to strength over the last five years and Acu-Temp have spent the past four years designing its own logging system allowing them to approach massive export businesses. Acu-Temp are also agents for Ebro Xylem, a Germany-based company. Garnet says his business is the only one in the country that employs a certified technician who can calibrate and service most of the German company’s products.
But being successful hasn’t come without difficulties.
“What I’ve learnt now is whenever you go into a business rather try and do it alone and not involve other people just in case there are other problems. I’ve also learnt a lot from the other companies I was working for because they sometimes did things that I wasn’t happy with, especially with things like dealing with clients and for me it’s very important to build relationships,” explains Garnet.
He continues: “When I left my company in 2014 I actually left with the biggest client, and it’s not because I’m good or anything, it’s just because I’ve built relationships with the people and it’s important to gain the trust of your clients, you need to offer them quality service.”
While COVID-19 hasn’t spared any business, Garnet says business is moving along.
“It was tough, and I could have given up, but I know with my trade and the potential of the business we could get there and things are starting to pick up for us now and I’m still here,” he explains.
While COVID-19 certainly slowed down business, Garnet hadn’t done much work since March 2019 because of a personal edification project.
“Last year I was fortunate enough to do a small business course, and we learnt a lot of good things there and it was a pity I couldn’t do that before I started the business because I would have tried to find some other means of funding. It’s challenging when you’re in business with other people because they don’t always share your passion for it,” he says.
What advice does Garnet have for any budding entrepreneur? “Do the work yourself.”
“Some people want to start businesses only with making money in mind and it can’t only be about making money, you need to invest in yourself like doing the courses, you must have good knowledge about what you want to do and where you want to go with your business and you must have a bit of knowledge about every aspect of your business.”
To find out more about Garnet and Acu-Temp visit https://acu-temp.co.za/