Educational printing specialist, Colourtech, is stronger than ever after almost 30 years in business, proof that owner Sonja Groenewald has wiped the floor with her homework and aced her apprenticeship in this highly competitive industry.
IF a Colourtech customer spends R100, Sonja Groenewald provides R200 in value. It’s a simple maxim with maximum impact that has seen the company become South Africa’s go-to supplier for educational books.
Everything about Colourtech makes perfect business sense – its position on the Groenewald farm on the road to Delmas, close to major cities and airports; its turnkey service (through the support of an inhouse textbook publishing operation and three other sister companies onsite), which includes textbook delivery not only to colleges but to individual students, and has led to a long-standing partnership with the education department; its expertise in e-learning; in-house representatives in courier companies, and warehousing facilities for customers.
Sonja’s success is no accident – she does everything with design and determination.
A major turning point was the 2016 purchase, made with characteristic business bravery, of Africa’s first Screen TruePress Jet520HD. ‘That unit enabled us to print exceptional-quality colour books affordably, which is not only good for us, but helps our customers’ businesses flourish,’ Sonja explains. More recently, two Canons offering high-definition image quality at litho prices have bolstered the company’s printing prowess.
Information technology is also top-notch and customers integrate easily with Colourtech’s processes, remaining fully informed of progress from order placement to delivery. ‘Our upgrades have enabled us to almost double our team, as we can serve more customers with top-class products,’ she states.
Sonja’s relationship with employees is a cornerstone of the business. ‘Nothing is more important than service, which builds strong, lasting connections with customers, but first come strong, enduring relationships with employees.
‘Communication and teamwork are essential because everyone must pull together to tackle unforeseen problems. Not everything in business is about making money.’
The testament to a life explored fully, one may argue, is a hankering to have done certain things differently. Not in Sonja’s case. ‘I wouldn’t change a thing,’ she insists. ‘Every hardship, trouble and triumph has made me what I am.
‘Occasionally life’s a stroll, more often it’s a marathon, but you must work extremely hard in any circumstances. You cannot afford to tarnish your good name with slapdash products. Your reputation, good or bad, will precede you.’
Sonja rarely stops to soak in the rewards of her efforts. She is currently on a mission to assist institutions by revitalising textbooks and printing them in full colour at black and white prices. ‘Learning will be more exciting and students more empowered to achieve goals and reach their full potential,’ she maintains.
Tough times call for innovative thoughts. Companies are printing less, so Colourtech is producing books with fewer pages, but greater aesthetic appeal and user-friendliness. E-learning is being brought in to create blended learning.
It’s hardly surprising that Sonja lists Colourtech as one of her two main hobbies, the other being photography. ‘I love what I do,’ she stresses. ‘I would gladly go to work in the middle of the night, every night.’
Living in a rural area and schedule permitting, Sonja revs up her quad bike and starts a dust storm with her sons, Etienne, who is in the business, and farmers Gunter and Ben. Husband Deon also farms, but often pops in to see how the business he helped found is doing. He doesn’t need to bother.
Sonja is adamant that she is exactly where she should be. ‘As a devout Christian, I believe I was placed on earth, specifically in Bapsfontein, to make a difference in the lives of staff and customers. Mark Twain said: “Whoever is happy will make others happy too.” I hope people feel these words describe