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Sonnendal Dairies December 09 www. bus- ex. com 109 competition S onnendal Dairies was launched by Andre Reitsma in 1994 as a small shop in Goodwood, Cape Town, selling just 200 litres of milk a day. However, Reitsma had an ambitious vision for the company and set about turning that vision into a reality, deftly steering it through periods of rapid growth and attracting investment that has enabled him to turn a modest business into one of South Africa's success stories. Not long after its launch, demand had already begun to outstrip the company's ability to supply through its shop in Goodwood, so Sonnendal moved to larger premises just a few miles away in Kensington, Cape Town, and increased its throughput to 12,000 litres of milk a day. A second move became necessary in 1996 and the business relocated to Athlone, from where it was able to supply 17,000 litres of milk a day as well as juice and maas- a fermented milk product also known as amasi in Zulu and Xhosa. The site also provided capacity for expansion in the future; however, to capitalise on the opportunities that Reitsma could see in the marketplace, serious investment was required, and this quickly came from two sources. In 1996 Martin Swanepoel, now Sonnendal Dairies' managing director, made a major investment in the company and this was followed in 1997 by a further cash injection from Malcolm Jeffrey. The biggest breakthrough, however, came in 2000 when the company was awarded the contract to supply milk to Pick n Pay, an expanding supermarket chain that has grown to become South Africa's largest food retailer. Since that time, Sonnendal has developed a close partnering relationship with Pick n Pay, and the company's growth has paralleled that of its retail client. Today, Sonnendal is an exclusive supplier of dairy products to the supermarket chain, supplying up to 122,000 litres of dairy goods a day, around 20 per cent of which is in the form of yoghurt and 80 per cent of which is milk. Sonnendal has built its reputation upon its ability to supply on time and to the quality demanded of such a highly competitive market sector. But reaching this eminent position has required some significant changes. Having expanded rapidly since its launch in 1994, the company reached the stage in 2006 where it became imperative to build a mature and stable management structure as a foundation for future development. by