“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This is the famous line with which Charles Dickens began his epic novel “A tale of two cities” 160 years ago. I sometimes wryly think that that, in penning this, Dickens was writing of the South Africa of today. After all, 2018 was a year of polar opposites for South Africans, with both good news and frustratingly disappointing news seemingly the order of the day! At times we were welcoming in a new dawn and basking in the sunlight of “Ramaphoria,” while, at others, we were struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel (sometimes because there was no light, thanks to the crises that have beset our national power producer!) And so it was last year in Goscor’s earthmoving and construction businesses: Consistency was hard to achieve, and “lumpy” months were the order of the day! This is hardly surprising, though, given the implosion of the construction sector in SA and the uncertainty surrounding the future of mining – both of which are clear indications of the perilous state of the national economy.
Despite these significant obstacles, we had a spectacular second-half of the year, with the performance in Q4 being particularly pleasing. I sincerely believe that this is as a result of some of the changes that we’ve put in place in the business over the last 20 months. We’ve filled critical posts and, importantly, replaced staff where we thought we were below par. In particular, we have made some excellent changes and appointments within our aftermarket team – this in recognition of the fact that we view this is the most important aspect of our business. This now gives us a solid base, from which our ever-improving sales team is able to perform. A great business, after all, is about having the best people. It is universally accepted that, without achieving this, any business is dead in the water. And so a big thank you to my loyal and dedicated team, who have slugged it out toe-to-toe against some of the toughest market conditions our sectors have ever seen. Without you, none of these continuous improvements would be possible!
2019 looks set to be another challenging year. We all eagerly await the 2019 elections, after which we hope that meaningful political and structural change will begin to emerge. So, whilst it may be a long, hard road ahead, fraught with many challenges, at least we are no longer charging over the edge of the abyss as we seemed to be prior to December 2017.
My closing wish for all of you is that, from a Dickensian perspective, you have a little more of the “best of times” and little less of “the worst of times.” Onwards and upwards…