Retaining talent through old-fashioned family values

It might seem unusual in an era where most people regularly chop and change jobs, but Lasher itself is an unusual employer in that it still holds firm to old-fashioned family values when it comes to the wellbeing and retention of its staff. So much so, that there are plenty of examples in its workforce of children who have followed their parents into the business and even siblings who are working together.

Lasher Tools MD Ian Kendal


“I knew the Halsted family [the shareholders of Lasher] in Zimbabwe and began working for the company in 1990. In our early 20s myself, Charles Halsted and Steve Wallis [the current Financial Director] were sent to Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal to help sort out the factory there,” says Kendal. “We grew up on the factory floor, learning everything there is to know about the business. In 1993, I left briefly to pursue a passion for trout fishing but returned in 2003 as the sales manager and worked my way up to sales director. In 2013 I was appointed as the MD.”

Lasher is very much like a family, and while working with competent, hardworking staff who have been there for a very long time is a good thing, it can also make people resistant to change.

“My greatest challenge is convincing and motivating people that we have to change our tried-and-tested way of doing things, to remain relevant in a tough economic climate,” says Kendal. “My job is like a fluid, living, breathing thing. Every day is different. The opportunity of being a part of a longstanding brand comes with the challenges of moving with the technological changes of the times and adapting to a supply chain that, in recent years, has changed substantially.”

“Until recently, we’ve ‘stuck to our knitting’ so have not been as susceptible to big ups and downs in the industry,” he adds. “When things had been good our growth had been slow and steady, and when things had been bad we weren’t too badly affected.”

“However, in the past five years the supply chain has changed significantly. Lots of the retailers have now joined big buying groups and you don’t see many individual hardware stores anymore. These buying groups have now become bigger than some of the wholesalers.”
As a result, the business has had to become flexible and adapt to these changes to ensure that their products still reach the end consumers, in an economy that is strained, and major focus is on pricing.

“We’ve chosen to stick to our core principles that quality endures, and good service remains important. By sticking to these principles, we have managed to remain the leading brand in Africa for 90 years,” Kendal concludes.

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