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Business duo shares recipe for success

Local entrepreneurs seize a spot as finalists in the 2014 Sanlam Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition.

HARD work and passion have given local entrepreneurs, Johan Kilian and Lukas Loots, an edge after they entered the 2014 Sanlam Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition. The duo has been selected as one of the 14 finalists to advance to the final round of the competition, and are the only finalists from KwaZulu-Natal.

Kilian, a Pinetown resident, and Loots, of Richards Bay, had to compete against a total of 214 entries for the prestigious opportunity. Christo Botes, the spokesman for the 2014 Sanlam Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, said, “We are pleased to announced that we received 214 entries in 2014, which is the highest

volume recorded to date and an increase of 21 per cent compared to last year. The entries have once again impressed the judging panel and have highlighted the quality of entrepreneurial talent and success present in the country.”

In 2002 the duo started building their Pie City franchise with four outlets and one factory store. They have since successfully grown the number of outlets they own in the Pinetown and Richards Bay area to 14 stores and two factories.

Prior to their reign as successful franchisees, Kilian and Loots worked for Transnet for 30 years. “Between our shifts as train traffic controllers we would take turns to manage our several taverns and liquor stores. Sometimes we worked 18 hours a day,” said Kilian.

Kilian admitted that he and his partner were terrified of leaving their permanent employment to start their own venture, and they have experienced many difficulties along the way. “We were told that only four per cent of people successfully manage to start their own business, but we knew that it was our passion and our dream. We have always loved business, and have tackled electricity increases and competing businesses with all we had,” said Kilian.

According to the entrepreneurial pair the recipe for their success has been a combination of good research, passion, dedication, hard work and the support of staff, family and friends. “We have also made it a priority to give back to the community, by helping our employees become sustainable entrepreneurs and by supporting local NPOs, such as Helping Hand,” said Kilian.

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