Profile: Quinton van Rooyen, MD, Trustco Group Holdings
Trustco Group Holdings
In 1992, Quinton van Rooyen bought an indebted company for N$100. He has since transformed the company into a successful and expanding enterprise. Now managing director of Trustco Group Holdings, Quinton shares his unique outlook on business, his passion for family and his dreams for the future of Trustco Group Holdings.
What made you decide to buy Trustco in 1992?
I wanted to make a difference in my life and the lives of others. As I progressed through my education, I learnt that while it pays to work for institutions and others, it is important to always hold your life in your own hands. Being independent thinkers, my family and I often think outside conventional business models. We bought Trustco in 1992 because we saw an opportunity for business calling, and we were confident that our ideas would pay off. Now, we have to sustain that level of thinking.
You exited the legal sector shortly after completing your law studies. Have you found your law degree useful since then?
Yes, I have found my legal studies extremely helpful in whatever I do, whether it is in my private or formal life. Law is an intriguing field of study. It applies to everyone and everything. However, as I progressed through life and got exposed to global economic interactions and trends, I realised that there is more to life than the legal profession. In fact, the legal profession depends largely on economic prosperity to thrive.
Since 1992, Trustco has managed to maintain growth in difficult economic circumstances. To what would you attribute the group’s success?
Our growth has been a function of determination, clarity of thought and hard work, but also our capacity to invent non-conventional methods of conducting business. For instance, we do not believe that having huge office space, regimenting status or staff wearing expensive attire has any progressive bearing on the balance sheet. We have a lean model of organisational management that is performance driven, with all employees subscribing to the growth of the company by meeting targets.
This is what drives us and makes us tick: the self-conscious capacity to understand the need for objectives, the wisdom of setting targets and the benefits of meeting those targets to help the company grow. Our growth as a company has been driven by these principles, and all our employees understand the meaning of targets and the relationship between targets and predictable income at the end of the working period.
What about your own success? You were voted Business Communicator of the Year 2003 and second Most Admired Business Personality of the Year 2007 and, have certainly built an impressive profile.
I have always appreciated what others say about me, be it negative or positive, for I have learnt much from this exposure. However, my ability to leave a positive impression in the public eye has resulted from a collective effort by fellow travellers in the journey of building our business. I am therefore highly indebted to all whom I have worked with at Trustco.
Listed on the JSE Africa Board in 2009, Trustco has major plans for its Africa expansion. How has the listing aided these plans and what African countries has the group set its sights on next?
We were the first company to list on the JSE Africa Board, and we did not regret the decision, as it was rooted in foresight. Our move to the JSE Main Board was the culmination of the realisation that African companies cannot function in isolation, but should compete with South African and global companies on a world-class platform, the JSE. We are proud to have made these strides.
The listing served as a shot in the arm as we were able to rub shoulders with the best in business the world has to offer. This further expanded our horizons and enhanced our capacity to move forward with our plans to the centre of Africa and beyond. As we speak, we are expanding our services to African countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and others. Africa has its own rhythm and we must move along or lag behind. This trend has taken root on the horizon of new business developments and we intend to stay on course.
At the end of March 2011, Trustco Mobile boasted 1.6 million registered customers across Zimbabwe. What are some of the challenges of distributing through mobile?
Zimbabwe was a learning curve and we regard it as a success in terms of speed of uptake and commercialisation aspects. The contract expired in March 2012, at its peak with 1.8 million customers. The positive side is that our experience in Zimbabwe lead us to modify the product offering for simplicity.
How would you describe your management style?
I guess I would say unconventional and peoplefocused. We are not managing institutions driven by public policy manifestations, but rather business projects driven for results. Our methods are tailored to achieve our results as articulated in our objectives, the targets we set and the extent to which we reach our targets. This unconventional model in corporate management sustains open-mindedness in the company and creates complex awareness among stakeholders.
Being the MD of a large company can be taxing on an individual’s personal and family life. How do you maintain a balance?
It is indeed taxing and challenging and you are under pressure to strike a balance at all times. We are fortunate in that this is largely a family company and everyone feels the obligation to get involved and understands the pressure on others. This pulls us together as a family, and we strike a balance by sticking together as a family. This has been a blessing.
Do you encourage your kids to follow a career in the insurance industry?
My eldest son graduated from university and is already sucked into the throes of the company, being exposed inter alia to the insurance industry and all its manifestations. Does he like it? I want to believe that he does, because I believe that he understands why.
If you weren’t MD of Trustco Group Holdings, what would you be doing?
I guess I would have been caught up in the narrow confines of the corridors of the judiciary. There are so many opportunities in Africa and the world, more so if one can read and write. The challenge is to be enterprising.