JOHANNESBURG – In the 90’s, Mervyn Ewertse, the founder and managing director of Bed King, owned a single shoe store in Station Road, Parow.
However, as the onslaught of competition, large overheads, hawker trade and a dying shoe industry struck, he decided it was time for a radical change.
Bed King was born with the first official store opening in Durban Road, Cape Town in 1999. In the beginning, Ewertse was the salesperson, the driver, the marketer and the accountant while juggling the role as a husband and father of two young daughters.
“The beds were stored and stacked to the ceiling in the lounge of our house and our first delivery vehicle was my father’s old rust orange Mercedes Benz. Beds would be tied to the top and hand delivered,” recalls Ewertse. “On one occasion when we got one of our first big orders, I had to hire a trailer and deliver 10 beds in one day, finally finishing very late that evening”.
Bed King has since grown from one store in Cape Town and a home warehouse to 14 stores nationwide – five in Cape Town, six in Johannesburg, two in Pretoria and one in Nelspruit. It also has distribution centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
It just shows that the saying, “If you make your bed, you lie in it” certainly rings true for the business success of Ewertse.
Since the first year, Bed King’s turnover has increased by more than 3 000 percent and employees have grown from three to more than 70.
“Many of our employees have been with us since the beginning,” says Ewertse.
Ewertse explains that retaining employees starts with developing a culture.
“Bed King is focused on developing a family culture where we all work together for the common good. Families do not compete with one another. Therefore, at Bed King, our staff work together to help each other and to ensure that the most important stakeholder – the customer is happy.”
“We still abide to the same key principles. Keep your promises. Keeping a promise is the true measure of consistency. Above and beyond that, never compromise on value and quality” says Mervyn.
He is a firm believer in the importance of old-school values, but at the same time attributes his success to using innovation and new technology.
“I still make sure that my personal email is given out at each and every store and if any customer is in any way not satisfied, I will personally follow up and make sure they are positively sorted out” ends Ewertse.
Mervyn says his business mentor was his late father, who was a successful entrepreneur in times where there were few to no opportunities for people of colour.
Ewertse says he keeps ahead of the game by constantly looking forward and not focusing on negativity around him. He says he continually learns by reading, travelling abroad, visiting retailers (not necessarily in the bedding industry) that inspire him, finding new products innovations and the latest technology.