Lucas Ledwaba, a former cleaner and driver, has transformed into a thriving entrepreneur in the ice machine industry.
The former Kenilworth resident’s mission is to address a problem that SA’s ice-making industry faces: a lack of skilled people who understand the technicalities of ice machines, making it challenging to have them repaired quickly and efficiently.
In 2013, he established Luc Ice Master in Edenvale, Johannesburg. It specialises in the sale, installation, and maintenance of ice machines. His clients include Spur, RocoMamas, and several Engen garages, and they have entrusted their ice machine needs to Ledwaba’s expertise.
A journey of transformation
Ledwaba’s journey into ice-making began when he was a driver for a company specialising in selling ice machines. His then-employer encouraged him to build the necessary skill set because of growing industry demand.
According to Ledwaba, he worked for two more years, gaining experience, before resigning to open his company.
“In the early stages of my entrepreneurial journey, I faced significant challenges. I worked tirelessly, often just making ends meet, until I enrolled in a comprehensive entrepreneurial course that covered all facets of business management.”
Recognising the seasonal nature of the ice industry, he said business tends to taper off during winter.
“During this period, my team dedicates their efforts to servicing clients’ machines in anticipation of the upcoming peak season. “The persistent issue of load-shedding poses a formidable challenge for the industry.
“To address this, my team and I adhere to a stringent schedule. We meticulously plan our appointments based on the load-shedding schedule to ensure our availability to assist clients in need,” said Ledwaba.
Pioneering in-house manufacturing
Looking ahead, Luc Ice Master sets an ambitious goal to become the first SA company to manufacture ice machines in-house.
Ledwaba went to China to glean insights directly from manufacturers, aiming to integrate cutting-edge technology into their machines.
“My vision is to streamline and expedite the servicing process for clients. I have observed that the current machines have not kept pace with the smart technology that we use today,” said Ledwaba.
Uplifting the community
Ledwaba’s commitment to upskilling has been instrumental in his growth and that of his community. His former employer’s belief in him paved the way for his entrepreneurial journey. Now, he pays it forward by uplifting fellow community members.
“I have had the privilege of training several individuals who later established their thriving ice machine businesses. When my workload is overwhelming, I gladly refer clients to them,” said Ledwaba.
He emphasises the importance of educating young individuals about the ice machine business. For him, true success lies in seeing those he trained to take the reins of their successful ventures.
“Seeing these individuals run their ice machine businesses is the epitome of success for me,” said Ledwaba.