Sometimes when we aim for the stars we end up on the moon. Which is kind of what happened when we started this Mungo Mill project. It has been a lifelong dream of Stuart’s to have a mill that is open to the public, that houses the full production process and team under one roof.
When Andrea and I designed the building 6 years ago we planned to be able to build it in one go. Best laid plans and all, we couldn’t secure finance for the whole project. This was because according to the bean counters and money lenders, the textile industry is not a good sector to be lending money to.
I tried pitching to some private equity investors.
Was told to move the company to Cape Town or they weren’t interested.
I was affronted.
We’re people. You don’t just move a factory and families who have lived and worked in Plettenberg Bay for years. We’re a community here.
I suspect they had heard that textile production is a bad bet.
They had also heard my pitch. It wasn’t good.
So we waited, and business was brisk and we got to a point where I sat with my family and said ‘Look, we need more production capacity, we either find a way to do so or we’re going to be turning customers away.’
So we borrowed what we could, dug into some savings, signed away our lives and put up what has become known as ‘Phase 1’. Very fancy wording for what was essentially a compromise.
But we knew it was a ‘good bet’.
That was 2017 and we managed quite well with a disjointed operation, a Frankenstein of sorts, but we didn’t let go of the idea to one day finish Phase 2.
We had children, some of us emigrated, expanded into territories unknown and far away. Came back. Life happened. And Covid.
We came home.
I sat with that family and said ‘What are we going to do? We can sink, we can swim, I know what I want to do, I want to push through, build Phase 2. How about you?’
So in March we started to build.
Last week we moved in.
It’s been a process that has been made challenging because of shortages of basic building material, logistics, delays on imports, lockdowns, Covid outbreaks, riots, strikes, and then just the normal mix-ups and bad communication that happens in life.
And so here we are.
Phase 2 complete.
It takes time to fulfil dreams, and in this case it’s taken a whole team, collaborating, working, and dreaming their own dreams to fulfil that one man’s dream.
This one’s for you dad.
Dax Holding, Managing Director