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Words: Zena le Roux | Images: Supplied

Modiwall provides durable and sustainable vertical gardening solutions. The company caters for the growing demand for green and environmentally friendly spaces inside and outside, which is driven by a rising culture to bring more natural beauty into the spaces where people live and work. Owner Charl Baker tells us more.

How did your business start?

My friend, Paul Smit, and I came up with the idea to design a vertical gardening system that improved on the technology at that time. We spent many nights in our garages designing, 3-D printing and building a working prototype. With this prototype and a business plan, we approached investors. We eventually got two investors, a landscaper and owners of an injection moulding factory. They are now the ones producing our product.

Why did you choose this area to set up shop?

Gauteng is the business hub of South Africa, so we naturally want to be accessible to our clients. However, our factory is in Cape Town, where we ship our product nationally and internationally. We specifically chose Centurion mainly because I live here. I hate sitting in tra­ffic. I want to get to my o­ffice easily and quickly, especially if there’s a walk-in and I’m not there. I also believe Centurion to be very central between Pretoria and Joburg, where most of our clients come from.

How did you find your premises?

We looked for premises for many months in commercial areas and shopping villages in Pretoria, Centurion and Midrand. The right type of setup was important. We need to offload large pallets from trucks and need a beautiful space to showcase our product. In the end, a friend saw an advert on Facebook for a home in Rooihuiskraal which had been converted into an o­ffice. It suited our needs and budget perfectly. We’ve been here for two and a half years.

Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?

The premises are ideal as they’re easily accessible from the N1 and conveniently situated between Pretoria and Joburg.

Who are your neighbours?

We have residential properties as neighbours.

What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?

Commercial properties go for around R120/m2 to R250/m2, but most were too big for our needs and thus over our budget. The property in Rooihuiskraal was spacious and cost less than most commercial properties, with water, electricity and garden services included.

How many people visit your business each day?

We do business mostly online. Clients don’t often visit the shop, but they do come in to see a living vertical garden and to get training on how to install the system.

Do you have any expansion plans?

Yes, we’re trying to get into the international market. We sell all over South Africa. We have a sales representative in England and have sent a test system to a landscaper in Dubai. We’ve also sent a large Modiwall system to be constructed in the Maldives. Our main goal is to get a partner in the US.

Do you operate online as well?

Yes, we operate largely online. We had an online store but switched over to a regular website that showcases the product and encourages customers to contact Modiwall for a quotation.

What’s your most popular item?

Our system is the most popular, as it was designed to be modular. The panels are 500mm x 500mm, so you can build a vertical garden of any size in those increments.

For more information on Modiwall, phone 076 874 0299 / 012 661 0538 or visit their website.

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