Local advertising gurus, Pepe Marais and Gareth Leck of Joe Public United, were named the Medium Business Entrepreneurs of the Year® at the award ceremony for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS held in Johannesburg this month.
After having entered the competition in 2017 and making it through to the finalist stage, Marais and Leck remained eager to work on their business and re-enter this year with the hopes of winning a category. Their perseverance paid off as their hard work earned them the 2018 Medium Business category title.
Founded 20 years ago with zero capital, Marais and Leck managed to disrupt the local advertising industry by offering haute-cuisine advertising services for print, TV and radio at take-away prices with various services displayed on a menu. Since then, the business has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but the entrepreneurs’ dedication to building a better business has seen them build a successful business, which is today ranked highly among the country’s top advertising agencies.
The business’ challenges have included selling the business, expanding into an offshore market, retracting back in to the local market, losing half of their client base, buying the business back, and starting again from scratch. They have since rebuilt Joe Public into the largest independent, South African-owned advertising group in the country, offering full services in advertising and communications through five integrated specialist companies.
Marais and Leck’s dedicated approach has seen the agency grow from strength to strength, winning numerous awards for their business and clients – the most recent of which was the coveted Agency of the Year award at the 2018 Loeries Awards.
The team prides themselves on their “purposeful approach” to an industry that is often compared to the likes of used car salesmen. They pride themselves on keeping the bottom line at the bottom – and prioritising the purpose, growth, development and well-being of their people (both staff and clients).
In light of this, Joe Public started their own non-profit organisation in 2008 called One School at A Time and have recently launched their own SETA-accredited academy, Joe Public School of Growth. “Over the past decade, we have systematically been making inroads with our two partnership schools in Soweto and Diepsloot. We are most proud of Forte High in Dobsonville, Soweto – a struggling high school that has become one of the top three township schools in Gauteng.
“Pepe and Gareth are determined individuals who embody the tenacious attitude typical of successful entrepreneurs. After missing out on the prize last year, they went back and worked on aspects of their business that they identified as needing attention. Their win is evidence of this hard work and passion,” said the competition judges.