Every industry, including logistics and warehousing, has an elephant in the room.
The proverbial elephant in the room. That aphorism has always conjured up an amusing image in Apex founder Alan Richard’s head of a timid cartoon elephant desperately seeking to conceal its enormous grey body behind drapes. While the sight is entertaining, the experience of being in a room with an elephant is not.
Every industry has at least one elephant in the room. Each industry has a problem that it prefers not to face head-on. Every industry has a predicament that requires remediation. Whatever the size and location of your elephant, it is critical to understand that it produces a host of problems.
When bad warehouse management systems are used, the “elephant” might cost your warehouse tens of millions of rands per year.
Alan, who is originally from the United Kingdom, visited South Africa in 2006. He fell in love with the country’s unique culture, stunning scenery, balmy climate, and, of course, its wildlife (including our majestic elephants).
Alan envisioned himself relocating to SA but the only way he could get a foot in the door was to open a business. He decided to utilise his warehouse management skills and client-focused ideals to provide a diverse range of solutions to warehouses of all shapes and sizes. He drew up a business plan, packed his bags, bought a plane ticket, and the rest, as they say, is history – well, not quite.
While on the way to South Africa, Alan kept asking himself the same question: What does it truly mean to ‘think outside the box’ – and how could he use that adage to help launch a daring new venture in a bold new country?
Alan quickly found a business principle worth its weight in gold — what’s inside the box is secondary to what’s on the outside. It is not that warehouse owners cannot succeed on their own — some can, and this is something we must recognise. However, those without a strategy to align internal warehouse processes to those of the business inevitably find themselves at odds with senior management and fail to deliver the results that the business is seeking.
Apex began as a one-person operation contracting to Vodacom and generated roughly R700 000 revenue in the business’s first full financial year. Meanwhile, Alan soon realised that warehouses in South Africa were more than four walls, a ceiling, and a floor. Warehouses in the Rainbow Nation were significantly more complex, with razor-thin margins and fierce rivalry leaving little opportunity for error.
Most businesses, Apex amongst them, struggle because they are started by someone good at a discipline but with no clue about what is involved in making a business successful. As such, Apex did encounter its share of difficulties.
Apex, endured a rough spell when trying to expand too quickly in 2017 and nearly let down their clients and partners.. It has been a valuable lesson and Apex now ensures that it only takes on new business when it has the capacity to execute to the level that we have come to expect and our customers demand. Slow and steady growth is better than rapid uncontrolled expansion.
Apex bounced back. The business began earning profit again in 2019 (despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic) and eventually netted aggressive growth in 2020 and 2021. In April of 2021, Clive Matlawa joined Apex in the position of Director. Clive had been a critical member of the team for many years and was fundamental in developing the company’s in-house products and implementing many of its projects, so it was a very natural progression for him to become a director.
With this exciting growth, Apex returned to the drawing board and rebranded its identity, which included a complete redesign of its website, and factors relating to its vision, market, and values.
The old website lacked focus and was inconsistent with Apex’s value statements, which include Continuous Improvement, Respect (Embrace differences), Teamwork, Integrity (Take Ownership/ Accountability) and Excellence. Apex now has a modern brand that is a true reflection of its business – a tech-focused warehouse management solutions company with a human-centred approach.
Apex is now able to hire recent graduates, train them, and provide them with a solid foundation for their future careers. Apex also aids other enterprises and promotes education in the local community, all of which contribute to the South African economy’s growth.
Apex is proud to boast a unique, close-knit workforce dedicated to making the best business decisions and assisting you in avoiding potential warehouse hazards. It has established a passionate community of warehouse and information technology solution specialists to serve a diverse variety of customers and industries in response to the growing demand for contemporary, adaptable, and intelligent solutions that deliver complete functionality at an affordable price.
If there is a victory Apex can blow the trumpet on, it’s the number of long-term clients who continue to place their trust in Apex year after year.