Join us as we interview the dynamic husband and wife duo that founded Hirsch's Homestores.
In 1979, Margaret (a secretary) and husband Allan (an appliance repair man) went on to build an appliance, electronics and furnishing retail empire. Today, Hirsch's Homestores is the largest independently owned appliance and electronics business in Southern Africa.
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Margaret Hirsch has become a leading example to business women in Southern Africa – coming from a humble background, to co-founding and running the multi million rand Appliance and Electronic retail organisation, Hirsch’s. Margaret has been recognised through her efforts in building a successful business, and her determination to give back to the community by, over the last four years, winning a multitude of business awards, including two Lifetime Achievement Awards in business and entrepreneurship.
As Chief Operations Officer of the Hirsch group, a sought after speaker at business events and schools – where she has established a successful motivational programme - across Southern Africa, this dynamic woman, who is passionate about her business and the people who work for and with her, has become a legend in her time.
Margaret Hirsch was born in Zimbabwe, and when she came to South Africa at the age of ten, her family was thrown into poverty when her father died. This did not deter Margaret who started work washing hair in a salon at the age of twelve. She has never stopped working, and her determination and drive have helped Hirsch’s grow from a tiny repair shop to a multi billion rand company. She points out that it is only through share hard work and a love for what the individual is involved in, that businesses will thrive. Putting it simply she says “You can work for a boss and make a living – or you can work for yourself and earn a fortune, but you have to be passionate about what you do.”
Margaret regards herself as a “jack of all trades”. having done the selling, invoicing, demonstrating, being a delivery person on the trucks, installing and demonstrating in customers homes and generally taking care of almost everything at Hirsch’s for the past 37 years. Margaret’s knack of empowering everyone who works for the company is extraordinary. “In 1994 we made the decision to empower our drivers, we sold them their trucks at a low price, allowing them to pay us back over a long period of time. The ripple effect from our business is that over 20 businesses have started up over the last 21 years, and these business now employ over 800 people…” she explains.
Customer loyalty is what has made Hirsch’s a household name. They were recently voted as the People’s Choice in the appliance, electronics and air-conditioning retail outlets by Daily News readers. What amazes people is that Margaret does not have an office in any of the branches. She sits at a desk on the floor and helps deal with customer complaints and queries on a daily basis. “What I love in our industry, is seeing two and sometimes three generations from the same family coming through to furnish their homes with us.” Margaret explains. “Keeping our customers happy and providing them with a unique, hands on service has helped our business grow and we are continuously finding ways to improve on our service to them.”
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