Your ICT partner of choice

Online since 22.03.2018 • Filed under Information Technology • From Issue 7 - March to August 2018 page(s) 46-47
Your ICT partner of choice

Maredi Thema, managing director of Maredi Technologies, has a big dream to become the partner of choice in the ICT sector. He tells Emma Dawson about his client-centric approach to service excellence.

Maredi Thema’s story begins at Wits Technikon where he studied Electrical Engineering. ‘Towards the end of our studies, companies – one of which was Telkom – visited us on a recruitment drive. Telkom’s representatives talked about development and, at the age of 19, this greatly appealed to me,’ Maredi recalls.

Out of the starting blocks

‘In December of my last year studying I joined Telkom, which exposed me to telecoms technology. I worked as a technician for five years but discovered that I wasn’t really a “spanner boy” – the guy doing the work. While I loved the technology and engineering, I didn’t want to fix things and work with my hands, I preferred being the background guy doing the planning and project management. This is when the idea of moving into sales developed,’ Maredi comments.

‘I began looking for opportunities to join a company selling telecoms test equipment and found a job as a sales engineer doing just that. I remained at the company for six years, during which time I learned a great deal about business,’ Maredi notes.

Character building and resilience

There are two things that Maredi believes shaped him into the man he is today – his school life and his job as a sales manager for Africa. ‘I enrolled at Potchefstroom Boys High in the North-West Province but being a black boy just after 1994 in an Afrikaans town, at an Englishmedium school was hard. I had to learn what life was all about. My family was determined that I should attend a good school and my three years there, from Grade 10 to Grade 12, were a learning curve that taught me resilience and broadened my character,’ he maintains.

‘Selling test equipment gave me a lot of exposure to what business is all about. As a sales person, you moreor-less run your own income statement and this exposure was invaluable.’

In 2005, he registered Maredi Technologies because he wanted to secure the company name. ‘At that stage, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I wanted to secure the name,’ he says.

‘I began looking for opportunities for my business and found the answer while selling a box of state-of-theart equipment. There was a missing link – the service element. I saw this as a huge opportunity and finally knew what I wanted to do – instead of just selling equipment, I could sell solutions.’ In August 2010 he launched Maredi Technologies as a going concern.

Big ideas

‘My idea was to sell solutions and not just telecoms. I packaged it as selling ICT solutions, which meant an offering for IT (corporates), telecoms (service and ad hoc operators) and last mile (consumer or end-user such as wi-fi) customers. However, what we soon discovered was that the industry wasn’t used to full-spectrum solutions.

They were accustomed to dealing with companies providing a service or a product. I wanted to package this together as a solution but, frustratingly, the industry wasn’t ready. So, we broke down our offering.’

This meant that while Maredi’s goal was to sell solutions, he carried the product and services sides of his business separately but explained to customers that it was also possible to mesh the two as a full solution offering.

‘Even today, we still predominantly sell services, but the industry is changing and becoming more interested – customers are asking for results instead of just products and services. The industry is maturing,’ he insists.

Based on partnerships

As with many start-ups, the early years were tough. ‘I was working from home to keep the costs down and my wife helped me with admin.’ After his second year, things settled at a steady pace and the business began to grow.

Maredi Technologies is celebrating its eighth anniversary this year, the company has a staff complement of 40 people, healthy contracts with some of South Africa’s big corporates, and they’re hoping for more.

‘My business model is still based on partnerships. Our motto is ‘Your ICT partner of choice’ because we want our customers to know that anything relating to their ICT needs can be managed by us – including the planning stage. We can design a customised solution for a full turnkey service.

I believe that where partners are concerned, you turn up, show your face and don’t hide from challenges. Money comes later. However, my target is to achieve a turnover of R1-billion,’ Maredi says with utter conviction.

Looking ahead

‘This goal galvanises my dream, but I can’t do it alone. Everyone at Maredi Technologies must share the vision and have the capability to achieve our goal. In the last year we’ve been developing areas of specialties and have implemented an innovative business plan to incentivise our team. We need their ideas and passion to take us to the next level,’ he maintains.

With its head office in Midrand (covering Gauteng, including Pretoria and the North-West Province), and branches in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the next stage is to meet the African market. Maredi has registered Maredi Technologies Mozambique and plans to be trading there within the next six months.

‘Our internal policies have also grown. Last year we introduced a formal performance and process management system. Although we’re a small company, we have plans to take it a long way and we need to do things right, from the start. One of my dreams is to be ISO-accredited. I appreciate the process of finding the gaps and beginning to fill them in. Once we’re accredited, it’ll make life a lot easier because all the processes and policies are already in place. We’re also focused on empowering our team because these are the people who will drive our vision. I don’t micro manage. I give targets and walk away. I don’t lose focus on what needs to be done, but I give them room to achieve.’

Key advice for start ups

Maredi considers the advice he’d give to others considering starting their own businesses. ‘Build up savings, take micro credit, and kept cash to feed your family during the business’s start-up phase. I’m also not a fan of moonlighting. When you try to work for a company while establishing your own business, your focus will change. It’s not about time, even if you think you have it to do both. It’s about the quality of the time and focus. Your attention for the company you work for will falter and you don’t need to burn bridges with any employer. You may be moving on, but relationships are key. One day, you may need those people.

His final advice is to celebrate milestones. ‘Running a business is stressful and can be lonely, so remember to reward yourself, celebrate the accomplishments, and keep learning and empowering yourself. The good times and memories will carry you through the tough times.’

Maredi is now in his third year of his degree in Business Management Leadership. ‘Don’t ever take education for granted. Hands-on is great, but formal learning will carry you a long way. My wife is my business partner, she understands my pressures, and she’s my greatest supporter and motivator. She makes juggling the business, my family, and my studies possible,’ he explains.

Comprehensive ICT services

Maredi Technologies is 100% black owned, with its primary goal to provide clients with turnkey solutions that are both cost effective and operationally efficient.

This is made possible by the significant experience and knowledge acquired by our management team that boasts years of experience in the ICT sector.

Comprehensive ICT strategies are designed through consultation with clients, and proposals and implementations are established on a per project basis, leveraging the power and expertise of strategic partners wherever necessary. Collaborating with these strategic partners ensures that client investments in specific systems are protected, and that fundamental changes to ICT systems are generally avoided.

Services

• Power installation and maintenance

• Network installations (RF, microwave, indoor and optical fibre)

• Network maintenance (RF, microwave, indoor and optical fibre)

• Network optimisation (RF, microwave, indoor and optical fibre)

• IT network design, build and maintenance (fixed and wireless)

 

Products

• Cables and accessories

• Network termination equipment

• Wireless products

• Transmission equipment

• Test equipment

• Power solutions

• Repeaters, DAS and TMAs

• Batteries

• Power monitoring and energy management solutions

• Optical fibre products

• IT hardware and software products

• Custom design products

 

Maredi Technologies

04 Liebenberg Road, Noordwyk

Midrand, 1687

T +27 (0)11 074 7181

F +27 (0)86 541 8340

E info@maredit.co.za , sales@maredit.co.za

W www.mareditechnologies.co.za

Issue 7 - March to August 2018

Issue 7 - March to August 2018

This article was featured on page 46-47 of SABI Magazine Issue 7 - March to August 2018 .

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