A MARK OF TRUE EXCELLENCE

By Michael Tambo
February 2012
Prime Business
It is true to say that any person can sell a product but only a few people can successfully create a business.

In an era where the majority of people cannot afford buying good quality products at a cheaper price, Complete Lifestyle Warehouse (CLW) has come up with a workable solution through offering quality products at reasonable prices for all Namibians.

Located in Northern Industrial Area in Windhoek next to China town, CLW opened its doors in September last year with a mission to provide reasonable quality products.

The company assembles and retails exclusive television sets, dining and coffee tables, beds, wardrobes, bed linens, side cabinets (only to mention but a few) shipped from the United Kingdom.

Most of the stuff sold in the shop often arrives at CLW premises as dismantled pieces of wood and material, which are then assembled by the company’s local experts in their workshop before being displayed in the store for sale.

Shockingly, the owner of the lucrative company, Peter Benz, who is armed with an honours degree in accounting in law and 10 years’ working experience as a chartered accountant says he had no experience at all in manufacturing and retailing but was strongly driven by the passion to provide a ‘complete lifestyle warehouse’ for Namibians, hence the company’s name.

Having spent most of his time overseas, the 35-year old entrepreneur returned home only to be dismayed by the fact that almost all products sold in the country were at premium prices, thereby denying a larger part of the community the privilege of owning basic goods such as an ordinary kitchen cupboard.

“When I came back home, I was dismayed by the fact that most products in Namibia were not affordable to most people and part of the community is excluded from owning basic goods.

“I then thought of how we could go about providing quality reasonably priced products to Namibians. Then CLW came as an initiative to do something that could benefit a lot of people and at the same time create employment for the local youth,” says Benz.

Even though the company is still in its infancy, it already boasts of creating a substantial customer base that is slowly becoming loyal to the CLW brand.

“Without exception, people who walk into our shop are impressed with the range of products we provide because we provide quality at good prices. Our staff is very friendly and treats every customer with respect. We also offer financing options and we do not charge interests on our lay-byes,” he asserts.

The company’s pricing system for exclusive goods has managed to put them on the map as many people from all walks of life frequent the shop daily, buying themselves quality goods.

“We try to be practical with our prices. When we see that there is a defect on our product, we always lower the prices and that has worked wonders as many people are now flocking into our premises to buy our products,” says Benz.

However, Benz says part of the strategic plans for the coming years is to grow and improve the system in the process. Every day to him and his staff is a learning experience.

He boasts of having a staff of nine vibrant young people who are eager and willing to learn and they operate as a corporate family with a shared sense of ownership of resources and responsibilities.

“In order to be true to our name - Complete Lifestyle Warehouse - we have to expand our warehouse. We are not there yet, as we have only been selling furniture and textile products, now we want to introduce outdoor products.

“We are also planning to expand towards other towns around Namibia in order to meet the increasing demand for our products and we hope to reach a point where we can provide these products at the same price to all Namibians around the country,” he explains.

The inspiration to start the company, for Benz, came from his grandparents and parents whom he says have always been honest people that have always stood up to achieve whatever they set themselves to do.

“I come from a peasant family; a family of hardworkers. I usually have a few quiet moments when I have so much work to do over little time to complete them but through my upbringing, I have developed the desire to build things and provide services to people in need and seeing them happy gives me a sense of satisfaction,” says Benz.

What has enabled him to do the kind of work he does, even though it is a different field to the one he studied in college, is willingness to take risks.

In his parting shot he says, “In business, you have to be willing to take a risk and the only way you can mitigate on that risk is proper planning. There is nothing particularly special about me. I just find good people to do the things that I cannot do and I am gifted with the ability to attract people who are forward-thinkers.” PF