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Herman van Niekerk
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From hair styling to oil spills: A successful business owner’s story

Published on 8/25/2014
For additional information  Click Here

From hair styling to oil spills: A successful business owner’s story


Article written by Johan Nortje, Owner: Isjon Intercoiffure & Acublot (Pty) Ltd

Website: courtesy Sanlam – Financial Solutions for Business Owners.


What does the 1989 Valdez sea oil spill, knowledge of hair, environmental consciousness and an entrepreneurial spirit have in common?


It launched Johan Nortje into action, ultimately resulting in his business recognition as a respected and successful supplier of 100% natural mats from  a waste product otherwise destined for the landfill.


He shares his success story…..


After growing up on an Upington farm, I built up a reputable hair and makeover styling business, Isjon Intercoiffure – first in the little Northern Cape town, and later in northern Johannesburg – servicing walk-in and celebrity clients from across the country.


I must admit that, had it not been for a 10-year savings plan, I would not be where I am today! There were times in my fledgling business days when I sold Coke bottles for extra income and ended the month with cents in my pocket.


But the hard work and perseverance, and perhaps most importantly – unfailing belief in my dream, paid off and over time I also built up a successful guest house business in the area.


Over recent years my entrepreneurial bone continued to tickle. My country upbringing inspired in me an eco-awareness, and I always wanted to model some kind of environmental solution linked to my daily trade.


The tragic 1989 Valdez sea oil spill, and the fact that I knew hair could adsorb a lot of oil, planted the seed. I knew that in the early 1900s soldiers used to shave their hair to adsorb oil spills in the field. So I started experimenting in my kitchen with a solution to small inland oil spills.


By 2010, I had designed a range of natural mats – filled with cut human salon and dog parlor hair – that could adsorb between 1.2 and 12 liters of oil. Sasol liked the idea and helped me take it further – in fact, I won a prize in the 2013 Step-Up Technology Innovation Competition for my SABS-tested mats!


My production facility can now weave enough 100% natural mats to supply Africa – from a waste product otherwise destined for the landfill. Last year alone, we collected more than 24 tons of hair. Not only this, but I could create employment for jobless and retired citizens, who collect the hair.


As a general indoor and outdoor housekeeping tool, the mats improve the safety of workers, prevent contamination and lower cost, and reduce users’ carbon footprint significantly. Recyclable Acublot mats are the solution for inland oil pollution – ideal for daily use by DIY specialists and auto workshops, as well as the civil and mining companies.


In a progressively water-scarce country – especially inland – the cost of contaminating our water tables with oil is unacceptable. If I could devise a way to make a commercial product from my business waste, anyone can. I challenge South Africans, and especially city-dwellers, to look around them. Then find solutions to dealing with your waste products. With a little imagination and entrepreneurial flair, your efforts will not be a waste of time or income.


Collectively Towards Success,


(Founder, Owner and Chairman)

HinvestA … your iGeneration Lifestyle Family


PS: Protectyourself against Key Logging theft



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