We recently interviewed Jacques Wessel Rheeder, Managing Director at THREADS with his innate entrepreneurial spirit and expertise of over 20 years in launching and turning some of the most successful businesses in the market. Jacques has been turning many struggling companies into the most successful ones across different regions, ranging from Africa, EUROPE, UAE, Qatar, and more. Let’s learn more about him and his journey through this interview below.
Career Path That Led To Current Position
We started the interview by asking, “Which career path led you to where you are today?”
He shared, “I come from a Fashion Manufacturing and Retail background. I initially worked in Clothing manufacturing companies in South Africa, merchandising and designing Fashion ranges that were marketed to the Fashion Retailers in the region.
Progressed into Retailing as the need to have a Global Sourcing and Product Development Specialist became the need of the hour.
I traveled to the East, India, Pacific Rim, and the U.S., developing manufacturing and trending Units. This allowed me to broaden my skill set and get hands-on experience in Product development, fabric development, and manufacturing. I was fortunate to develop diverse skills covering a broad spectrum of Clothing design, Product development, manufacturing, and ultimately Global Retail Standards and disciplines.”
Inspiration Behind This Company
Behind every successful brand, inspiration acts as a significant boost toward building the same. So we asked, “What inspired you to develop the idea of your Company.”
He shared, “Selling School Uniforms must be arguably the most “unsexiest “and Boring part of Retail. No one wakes up thinking, “Let’s shop for School Uniforms! “We looked at the concepts in the market and came up with a Unique Concept that not only was one of
a kind but added some needed “Pizzas and Character” to the conventional boring outlets that sold School Uniforms.
Our main aim was to speed up the process and eliminate long and tedious queuing times. Unlike Fashion Retailers, we wanted the Customer to spend a short yet highly productive and satisfying period in the store. They must leave with exactly what they need, with a few exciting add-on products, a hassle-free, no-stress speedy process driven by high service levels at all times.”
Evolution Of Priorities
Priorities of a business have chances of changing over time. We were intrigued to learn about the changing preferences of Jacques’ business over the years. We asked, “How have your priorities in terms of Business evolved since you first started?”
He shared, “First, we had to ensure that our customers were comfortable with and accepted the New Unconventional Retail concept. A primary focus was on service levels and the speed of our service execution. The idea was widely welcomed, and we won two Retail awards.
Continuous staff training and development was the cornerstone of our success with excellent and consistent service levels. Once we achieved these goals, our priority shifted to product development. We redesigned the Uniforms, improving fabrics, style, and quality.
We are the proverbial scholars from a fabric development point of view; as new and advanced fabrics are developed and launched, we test, monitor, and then based on the results, introduce the various fabric’s qualities to the respective Uniform sectors they apply to. We have become leaders in developing new and innovative materials conducive to enhancing the quality and comfort of School wear.”
Arguably the most important factor to the success of all the above, was our partnership with a highly skilled and Professional Sourcing Office. With their expertise and guidance, we have become change agents and versatile.”
We were interested to learn about the unique features of his Company that make it unique from others. So we asked, “What makes your company stand out from all other businesses in your sector?”
Jacques shared, “As mentioned previously, we pride ourselves in our high levels of service. Consistency and continuous improvement regardless of how successful we may be. I always explain the “restaurant” principle to my people.
A person can have 100 good meals and say nothing but serve them one lousy dish, and that is all you will hear about. You are only as good as your last service transaction or experience…… complacency is deadly! We continuously challenge ourselves to keep improving at all levels.
He added, “We do not have employees; we have team members, everybody belongs, and they know that irrespective of their role in the Company. It is the most important; everyone takes full ownership and responsibility for their part and the expected service levels. Everyone has a voice. No suggestion goes unnoticed or un-trailed.
Our best interventions and changes came from the most unexpected positions/people! There is never a stupid question or suggestion.
Our biggest asset and differentiating factor in our Business vis-a-vis other Businesses are our People and our Unique Culture.”
Building Strong Bonds With Employees
Having a strong bond of trust with the employees encourages them to be more productive than ever. So we asked, “How do you build trust with your employees and boost productivity without causing burnout?”
He shared, “As mentioned in the above question, we see people as our primary asset. We have a Culture of honesty and openness, as cliché’d as it may sound. I made one rule when I joined – make mistakes……however, do not make the same mistake twice; learn from your mistakes, re-invest that knowledge, and look forward to the following error. The day people stop trying new ideas or challenging the norms, they become “silent.” Management never stops listening; the People never stop talking or trying!”
He furthermore shared, “We believe that before you can trust anyone, trust yourself first. Trust and respect are earned; we always focus on that rule!
Our people know that they must not be afraid of what can go wrong; they are excited about what will go right!
In our company, customers do not come first; our Employees do! Take care of your employees; they will naturally care for your customers.
We apply the following; It is better to be Unique than the best. Being the best makes you number one. Being Unique makes you the ONLY ONE!
It is better to be UNIQUELY the best! When people love what they do, enjoy what they do. Time somehow stands still! Personal time is important to us, rejuvenation and time out. We promote that at all costs. We work smarter rather than harder. To be the best, you have to rest! Not just your body but your mind, soul, and spirit.”
Advice To New Entrepreneurs
“What advice would you give to starting entrepreneurs?”
Jacques replied, “Once you have identified your Product/ service and Business niche. Believe without limits, Act without fear, and never lose hope. Adversity is an equal and necessary part of your growth; never negotiate with mediocrity.
In tough times, stay focused; being an Entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted. Adversity and challenges do not build character, it reveals it!
You will meet many “experts” who will tell you what and how to do things. The problem is they have never done it themselves.
A positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. Stay Humble, stay focused, and be strong. You are an Entrepreneur!”
Find Jacques Wessel Rheeder on LinkedIn.