By Mzukona Mantshontsho
OBM CATERING SUPPLIES deals with dry goods supply, frozen meats, fruit and vegetables, beverages, and catering equipment for hire & sales.
I spoke to Managing Director at OBM Catering Supplies Ofentse Morake about his personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey thus far.
Tell us about your early life to your role today
I was born at a village called Mantserre and spent my early childhood there, I am the eldest Son. My early childhood life was spent at Mantserre with my Grandmother Mmatlala Mogale who took care of me while my mother was away for work. I was so fortunate to have grown in a family where we never went to bed without food.
I used to sell snacks and cookies to nurses and patients at my parents’ workplace – this really taught me to be independent. I started my cooking career at HF Tlou High School, where I did Home Economics and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I got to Matric, I told myself that I want to be a Chef and my parents agreed.
I enrolled for a two years National Diploma at Mafikeng Hotel School. It was the best time of my life because I excelled in all the years that I was there. I was awarded with a Merit Award for both years for being the Best Student in Professional Cookery and also graduated with a Merit.
I registered my first business OBM Caterers when I was still at Mafikeng Hotel School. It was not easy to balance my business and academic life, but this has never interfered with my studies.
After completing my studies, I got a job as a Junior Pastry Chef at Makanyane Safari Lodge, I then moved to Madikwe River Lodge as a Senior Pastry Chef until I got an opportunity for a 12-month Internship at Florida, in the United States of America. I worked at The Palm Beach Hotel alongside the best Chefs in America. I then registered an Events Company with a business partner that we thought it would be our start up on arrival back home but unfortunately the business was so slow and we had to find our own ways.
I then worked for Sun City Resorts as a Kitchen Manager in one of their restaurants not so long then I resigned and OBM Catering Supplies was born. I also started a Travel n Tours Company with my life partner Katlego Mokgosi which we run both and she also takes part into OBM Catering Supplies.
OBM Catering Supplies started as a small company but today it has grown to an extent that we now have three branches across two provinces which is the North West and Gauteng.
What does your role mean to you?
My role as Director of the company means a lot to me in terms of running all the day-to-day duties ensuring that all our events run smoothly according to plan so that we deliver the best services, to please our clients and get return business and referrals.
What are the most critical resources for your successful leadership?
I am currently working on collecting the latest event furniture that will take our company to greater heights. Our clients should expect a different offering of services that we have never rendered to them before. We have been studying most of the latest trends that are currently in the market. With the help of Avon Peaking Power along with Enterprise Room, this will help OBM Catering Supplies to archive all that. We have been on a 12month Development Program with these two organizations.
What can we expect from you going forward?
Clean and outstanding services, I incorporated the experience I got in America to OBM Catering Supplies.
What are your words of advice for young people, particularly women to start small businesses?
I would really encourage young people to start their businesses so that they could be self-employed and earn credits to being entrepreneurs of tomorrow. We cannot rely on jobs that are not there and not paying us enough. I bought my first house at the age of 31 and to date, I don’t think I would have been able to afford a home loan if I was still a Junior Chef.
If you had ALL the powers in the World, what would you change?
I would change the all-cabinet members and deploy young and educated youth of this world to establish new and fresh ideas to our day to day running of this world.
What are your thoughts on Covid-19 in terms of small businesses?
Covid-19 has really impacted small businesses in a way that some businesses shutdown. We had to think broadly and be open minded to come up with ideas to sustain our lives and keep our businesses alive. When we got to Alert Level 4 of the National State of Disaster in South Africa, my business associate and role model Mrs. Phenyo Modisakeng proposed that we sell online door-to-door fruit & vegetables to families as people we restricted to go out.
We made it happen by delivering to so many homes across Gauteng and North West, to date I still thank her for the help that she brought into my business through this Covid-19 difficult times and to have rescued OBM Catering Supplies. My sister Khumo Morake also took part in terms of delivering some goods that I could not deliver myself. My business has been driven mostly by my family members who have played a crucial part. From my cousins to closest friends without them there would be no OBM Catering Supplies, I Thank them all.
What is the legacy that you would want to leave when you retire?
I want to leave OBM Catering Supplies as a big brand that will continue to operate for many generations. I do not wish to retire with my equipment.
How does your business contribute to the community?
OBM Catering Supplies contributes a lot to the community by temporarily employing young people from different backgrounds. Once a year we give back by nominating a family that is living under difficult conditions and buying them groceries and toiletries.
What have been your highs and lows of your working career?
The lows in my career were when I could not get business and was not able to pay my employees on time due to non-payments from government jobs that we had completed. The highs are the LESSONS we learnt from the lows.
When you not at work, what do you get up to, and where can people follow you or your business online?
I jog to increase my physical strength; I travel a lot with my family when I am free – visiting friends and family.