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When hobby turns to flourishing business

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What started off as a part-time weekend job and hobby has turned into a flourishing business for two brothers Sydney and Phillip Chiwora.

The two now run a successful welding company, Best Welders & Steel Fabrication, which specialises in construction products such as door and window frames, burglar bars and screen doors.

When they started out, Sydney was formally employed as a boiler maker.

“I worked for different companies as a boilermaker while during the weekends my brother Phillip and I would make door and window frames for clients in the neighbourhood,” said Sydney, who is the company’s managing director.

It was at that time that he started training his brother, Phillip, who was then at school, to equip him with the relevant skills.

Since Phillip was doing metal work at school, training him was not very taxing.

In 1998, business became so brisk that at times they were overwhelmed with demand for products, receiving more than 200 orders for screen doors, door frames, window frames and sliding gates when construction was at its peak in Unit G Extension in Chitungwiza.

“At one point we had so many customers and it was not easy to meet the demand by working during weekends only.

“I then took two months’ leave to concentrate on the orders. From then on I never looked back, so I left formal employment to start Best Welders & Steel Fabrication,” Sydney said.

The road to success was not rosy though.
“When we started doing this full time, we operated from the roadside and Operation Murambatsvina did not spare us.

“We were hounded off the roadside. That is when I bought this place (in Chitungwiza industrial area). It was just a forest and I developed it,” he said.

During his time in formal employment, Sydney would save and invest part of his salary which became his initial capital. When he was still at school, he had an entrepreneurial spirit, as he sold small items like sweets to his schoolmates.

Sydney’s dream, after he had started working, was to be out of formal employment within eight years, and he saw through that dream. Phillip, on the other hand, was never formally employed.

“I never got to be formally employed because by the time I finished school, I was heavily involved with Best Welders & Steel Fabrication,” said Phillip, who is the company’s sales and marketing manager.

He is currently reading for a marketing degree with the Institute of Marketing Management to enhance his knowledge and skill and so enhance his value to the business.

Sydney chipped in: “It is very important to have business skills and knowledge backed by education.

“Apart from being a qualified boilermaker, I also hold diplomas in bookkeeping, accounts and business management, among others, and these help me to understand the business world better.”
Sydney’s vision stretches far.

“I want to start an engineering company. I have already bought a 4 000 square metre stand for
that.

“If it was not for the political instability that affects the economy, I would have finished developing the land by now. The 2008-2009 period left serious scars on our business,” he said.

Although Best Welders & Steel Fabrication employs 12 people, it boasts having done relatively big jobs.

Sydney said business picks up during the dry season when construction activity is at its peak. In a good month, they get orders worth $10 000.

“We supplied building materials for the Homelink project and for more than 1 200 housing units for the Presidential Guard.

“We get customers from all over Harare. We only make things per order, so we make
them for specific customers,” he said.

On a parting note, Sydney said people must overcome fear and pursue their dreams.

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