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Agrimark stores might only be 15 kilometers apart, but step over the border into Namibia and it's not unusual to have a couple of hundred kilometers between branches. " It creates a great responsibility," says Botha, " on our supply chain management. Managing inventories when you carry 6,000 line items and heaven knows how many size variations, and then getting them into the stores at the right volume and time is critical. Still, I'm more than pleased with the nine times stock turnover ratio we achieve; it demonstrates that the supply chain is working effi ciently." Although Botha has a formidable reputation amongst the business community, earning himself the nickname of Big Shark for his aggressive acquisitions, within Kaap Agri he shows a more nurturing rather than controlling managerial style. " The improvements we've made with our procedures," he says, " are not thanks to me. Instead, what I and my fellow directors have to do is create the right environment in which staff can grow and develop. It's their ownership of the way the business runs that makes it successful." In fact, Botha had just received the fi rst six months' fi gures showing a healthy 28 percent increase. Pioneer has done even better, with 31 percent growth. Whereas once the South African economy was very much controlled from Pretoria, there is now a free market prevailing, causing Botha to also feel bullish about the future of the country. While admitting that crime is still an issue- and one which is no longer poverty driven but seems to have become ingrained in certain segments of society- he believes that the government is doing well, and black people are rising to the work opportunities they are now getting. " South Africa has largely been shielded from the world recession," says Botha. " Everywhere you look there is building activity, both in cities and in villages. Now that the elections are out of the way, people will get back to taking more interest in the economy than in the government. There is a strong entrepreneurial atmosphere driving the country forward." - Editorial research by Robbie Hodgson summers. Inputs are always needed and are costly. But in the past few years the weather has been good to us, and farmers have grown bumper crops of everything from wheat to grapes." Kaap Agri has to cater for a wide range of farmers and farm sizes. On the one hand, there are 30,000 commercial farmers who operate on a large scale, with farms ranging in size from 4,000 to 40,000 acres. On the other hand there are 700,000 subsistence farmers barely scratching a living. With plenty of competition from alternative suppliers, Kaap Agri knows that its existence depends on giving customers a good deal. " South Africa is not that important at the international level," says Botha, " and we don't get the keenest prices for imported goods. But by buying in bulk and distributing goods from our central distribution division, we are able to remain more than competitive on price." Logistically, the biggest challenge is coping with the vast distances involved. In certain more populated areas, neighbouring Kaap Agri Operations June 09 www. bus- ex. com 49 Mondipak is proud to be Kaap Agri's partner in corrugated requirements. Mondipak believes in providing excellent customer service, reliable, on- time supply, as well as superior, constant quality with a strong emphasis on sustainability and the environment through investment in people and technology. Mondipak