Cheslin Smith started his glass-fitting company with only R500 and over a decade of experience, he gained from working in the sector. His dream is to have a business that is successful enough for him to provide his family with a good life, and he is content with a small-sized company. For Smith fitting glass is more about making his customer happy. Before he started his business, CCG Windscreen Auto-Glass Replacement in 2021, he worked for a few companies where he learned the hard way how to get a company off the ground.
Smith, who is based in Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town, said that he was unfairly dismissed from his last company when the hard lockdown started in 2020. “I worked for this company for two years, and when it started, I was the only glass fitter in the company,” he said. “I worked to get the company customers and clients and when Covid-19 came, I found myself out of a job. My former boss also refused to pay my severance package… and I took him to the CCMA (Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration).
“When I did not get a response from the CCMA, I dropped the matter altogether.” Undeterred, and with a family to support and bills to pay, Smith loaned R500 from his wife to start his company. “I got one customer, and with that R500 I was able to buy the windscreen for the customer. I successfully fitted the windscreen and fixed it, and that is how the business started,” Smith explained. Smith said that his business services included fitting windscreens, door glass, vent glass, rear screens, truck windscreens, side mirrors, cab sliders and quarter glass.
He works in Mitchell’s Plain and its surrounding areas. It has not been easy for Smith. He told Vutivi News that he used to own a bakkie, but he lost it after he was hijacked and stabbed on his way home from a job. So, now he used his wife’s car. But the businessman does not give up easily. “It was difficult for me to start the business because all of the customers I had acquired for the previous company remained with the company, so I had to start from scratch, and I faced a lot of competition in my area,” Smith said.
“I also know that my business is going to pick up and is on a steady growth trajectory, because I know how to get a business going from the ground up, having done it before.” He also works with a few workshops and panelbeaters in the area, where he fits glass for their customers as well. “For me, doing this job is more than just for the money. I get great joy when I see how relieved my customers get after solving a potentially stressful predicament for them,” Smith said. “I’m not like other business owners who want to have big businesses in the future. “I want to be able to have a business where I can provide comfortably for my family.”