When it comes to understanding animal nutrition needs, South African entrepreneur, Dr Christel Coetzee, and her specialist team at ADVIT Animal Nutrition, are an encyclopaedia of knowledge. Each day, the company’s leading experts and world-class facilities, produce a wide range of specialist animal feeds for all sorts of animals, from domestic pets and horses, through to food-producing farm animals such as pigs, poultry, cattle and sheep.
This month, LoA is delighted to meet a real entrepreneurial groundbreaker, Dr Christel Coetzee, who is a great example of a woman making an industry sector her own, through sheer hard work, determination and lots of self belief in herself and her products.
Tell us a little about ADVIT Animal Nutrition
ADVIT Animal Nutrition provides the animal feed industry with a range of research-proven vitamin and mineral premixes for the efficient production of meat, eggs, milk, fish and pet food.
What inspired you to start your company?
My entrepreneurial journey was a gradual enfoldment of circumstances around me. I started my career as an Animal Nutritionist at a leading consultancy. I then became a nutritionist at BASF Animal Nutrition SA and was promoted to Operations Manager within 2 years, then going on to become the Technical Marketing Manager. I undertook a management buy-out for BASF Animal Nutrition SA to become a director and 50% shareholder in 2007. So for me, it was all about being in the right place at the right time.
"Being involved in the vital production of meat and eggs and milk, means that as long as people are eating, we will be in business."
What makes ADVIT Animal Nutrition so unique and why should anyone use your service or product?
Client service is at the heart of the premix business, which is why ADVIT’s dependable team of feed experts offer specialist technical support for their entire product range. ADVIT’s ongoing client support ensures that the clients’ feed formulas are optimised, which contributes to economically efficient animal production. ADVIT has two separate facilities for the preparation of premixes - one where general premixes are produced; and the other a non-medicated facility where pet food, horse and breeder premixes are prepared.
Tell us a little about your team
We have an amazing team of staff. I have a business partner that is in charge of the financial aspects of the company. I look after the technical sales and operational part of the business. We have 5 nutritionists in our team that can formulate feeds for customers across the animal feed spectrum, basically a specialist in every field. We have a dedicated Quality department and our factory is both ISO 9000 and ISO 22000 certified. Our production and logistics staff make sure our customers get the correct product at the correct time. We have sales staff responsible for the whole of South Africa, this includes depots in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
"Starting the business was initially very hard. We came from a multi-national mindset and turning that into our own company culture and brand took a lot of effort."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I never realized this before owning my own business, but I can sell. I think this stems from having real confidence in our people, products and services. Starting the business was initially very hard. We came from a multi-national mindset and turning that into our own company culture and brand took a lot of effort. We also struggled with cash flow in the start-up years. Our customers were very supportive and we received huge tenders in the beginning from people wanting to support us. At present we are one of the big players in the market and the only sizeable privately owned company in our industry. We are very proud and are looking forward to growing our business into Africa in the future.
"I never realized this before owning my own business, but I can sell. I think this stems from having real confidence in our people, products and services."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Africa is the bread basket of the world and will become the world's largest market by 2030. We are an important link in the food chain. Being involved in the vital production of meat and eggs and milk, means that as long as people are eating, we will be in business. We will focus on expanding our business into Africa in the coming years. We are in the right industry, in the right place, at the right time.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Offering a great service, at great value, on time.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
I started a business in a totally male dominated industry, and it was very hard in the beginning. But I persisted, and stayed focused. Integrity is very important, so do not play the "female" card if you do not want to be treated in a sexist way. I am just a person doing a job, I am not male or female, I am the best person to do the job. Now I am the face of my company, and we have loyal customers that support us. I am blessed.
Contact or follow ADVIT Animal Nutrition
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why LoA loves it….
Dr Christel Coetzee and her amazing team at ADVIT Animal Nutrition are a great example of how self-belief, combined with great team work and a unique depth of knowledge and expertise, can all contribute to building a truly world-class company and brand. Watch out for the next exciting phase in the company’s development as it embarks on its Africa expansion strategy. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief