Streaming issues? Report here
John Perlman 1500 x 1500 2020 John Perlman 1500 x 1500 2020
Afternoon Drive with John Perlman
15:00 - 18:00
volume_up
volume_mute

Up Next: The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield
See full line-up
Afternoon Drive with John Perlman
15:00 - 18:00
Home
arrow_forward

How a dyslexic repairman opened his own store and turned R900 into R1.4-billion

14 October 2014 9:00 AM

Hirch CEO Allan Hirsch went from being a dyslexic appliance repairman to a multimillionaire home appliance mogul. This is his story.

(Click here for more "Shapeshifter" articles such as this one.)

Hirsch struggled at school due to dyslexia and eventually dropped out in standard seven (grade nine).

After completing an apprenticeship he started repairing appliances at a company in Durban North. He kept on bumping heads with the owner because he wanted to push the margins up while Hirsch preferred reasonable rates in order to keep customers happy. “If you think your ideas are going to work why don't you open your own business?” Hirsch recalls the owner saying.

“Good advice; I’ll take it!”

In 1979, with a grand total of R900 in his pocket, Hirsch took the leap and opened his first electrical appliance repair store in Durban North. “I had to pay R300 in rent and a R300 electricity deposit upfront. So, on day one, I was absolutely flat broke,” says Hirsch.

Where others might have seen the opportunity to make a quick buck, Hirsch had other ideas. When his competitors opened shops in the same area, Hirsch doggedly kept his head down and focused on his own business.

In most businesses there is commonly one distinguishable tipping point; a moment when, looking back, the entrepreneur can point to a catalyst for significant growth. For Hirsch it came in the unlikely form of a microwave.

Microwaving it to success

“I bought two microwaves and, after 30 days, they were still sitting in the shop. I hadn’t sold them because I didn't know anything about them”. Thrilled at what he discovered about the versatility of the product, he and his wife arranged a product demonstration for one evening, inviting 13 couples to show them what the product could do. “We sold 11 microwaves that night,” Hirsch recalls.

Word spread and Hirsch’s quickly became known as the microwave experts, a reputation that eventually enabled them to open a microwave cookery school at their new premises in 1983.

Sticking to the basics and doing that well

The philosophy on which the Hirsch culture was established is sticking to the basics. “One thing you've got to do when starting your own business is to stick to the basics continuously,” advises Hirsch. “Every successful person does the basics right over and over and over again. We have always tried to remember and implement the little things such as greeting a customer, smiling, walking them back to the till and carrying their parcels to the car. These aren’t insignificant things – they are the fundamentals on which success is built.”

Hirsch’s started off with t R900 in 1979; today they have a turnover of approximately R1.4-billion.

Article by Sithandwa Ngwetsheni

(Edited by Kabous le Roux)

(Click here for more "Shapeshifter" articles such as this one.)

Click on play to listen to Nikiwe Bikitsha's interview with Allan Hirsch.

Watch Allan Hirsch take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. "Our prices are really hot, and our fridges are..." :-)


14 October 2014 9:00 AM

More from ShapeShifter

natascha-viljoenjpg

Amplats boss passionate about making a difference (and the smell of explosives)

27 August 2020 7:18 PM

'The pandemic is an opportunity for innovation'. Natascha Viljoen shares her life story and beliefs on The Money Show.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

diabetes-glucose-testjpg

Together we are solving diabetes, one human at a time - online coaching platform

20 August 2020 7:07 PM

Personalised one-on-one healthcare is the answer to the problems diabetics face says Guidepost CEO, Graham Rowe.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

afrika-tikkunjpg

SA needs 'the Madiba compassion' more than ever now, says Afrika Tikkun CEO

5 August 2020 8:54 PM

Marc Lubner on the NGO's programmes for young South Africans and how working with Nelson Mandela inspired his life's work.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

200115-malegapuru-makgoba-ejpg

'My single most important aim is for load shedding to disappear from face of SA'

30 July 2020 6:20 PM

The Money Show's Bruce Whitfield interviews Eskom interim chair and Health Ombud, Prof. Malegapuru Makgoba.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Missing Image Placeholder

Shapeshifter: Springbok-turned-businessman, Bryan Habana

3 June 2020 8:18 PM

Former Springbok Bryan Habana about where he is at this point of his career.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

solidarity-fund-logo-website-screengrab

Gloria Serobe (Solidarity Fund) is one of SA's most important people right now

29 April 2020 8:32 PM

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Solidarity Fund Chairperson Gloria Serobe.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

electronic-payment-money-transfer-mobile-bankingjpg

Digital banks have started thriving

25 March 2020 8:33 PM

Technological advancements have made it possible for new banks to operate and flourish.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

Bushveld Minerals vanadium mine

Meet Fortune Mojapelo of (London-listed) SA vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals

21 November 2019 1:47 PM

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield asks Bushveld Minerals founder Fortune Mojapelo to share his success story.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

The Duchess gin tonic

The Duchess - the story behind the world’s first non-alcoholic gin & tonic

14 November 2019 12:08 PM

Launched in 2016, The Duchess has won numerous awards and successfully broke into the UK, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward

lulawaypng

Still young(ish)? Entry-level jobs available on Lulaway’s employment platform

30 September 2019 2:36 PM

Lulaway has placed 30 000 young South Africans in jobs since 2011. Bruce Whitfield interviews its CEO, Jake Willis.

Share this:
Read More arrow_forward