Western Cape Business News

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BUILDING: GVK Celebrates 50 Years Of Success


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FIFTY years ago, two friends equipped only with a couple of bakkies, some paint and a stepladder decided to start up a painting company. Today, Gordon Verhoef & Krause is a leading specialist in building, renovation, restoration and recycling of buildings.

Gordon Verhoef and Earl Krause met at Camps Bay High School in 1954 where they cemented their friendship in the classroom and on the sports field. As avid surfers in their younger years, the duo and their friends surfed the first foam surfboards and opened up a number of surf spots around the Western and Eastern Cape.

After university, Krause went on to work at Ovenstones - a major fishery - while Verhoef joined his father’s construction company. The two friends then decided to form their own business and with R400 formed a painting company. “Our first office was a converted garage in Hatfield Street in Cape Town and our first big job was to paint the HM Leers building in Maitland”, recalls Verhoef.

In Cape Town in the 1960’s, a number of historical buildings were being demolished. Verhoef says, “These buildings were part of our national heritage. We started restoring these buildings and soon received requests to do more”. As a result, the company evolved into Gordon Verhoef and Krause Painters and Restorers. Both Verhoef and Krause took it upon themselves to study various schools of architecture so that they could apply this knowledge to their work. GVK has been responsible for the restoration of a host of major local and international landmarks such as the Union Buildings, The Castle of Good Hope, city halls in Cape Town and Durban and numerous historic post office buildings and magistrates courts. It has also repaired and restored countless jails, hospitals and schools in South Africa.

In the late 60’s GVK added a niche restoration business to its complement of services but lacked skills in a number of areas. “We began buying companies like Herbert Evans – a large painting contractor company and GC Shave to accumulate the skills we required, which gave us the edge”. The holding company’s managing director, David Maughan, also joined during this time which benefitted the company enormously as he was responsible for 80% of its sales.

A major turning point for the company came during the restoration of the Cape Town City Hall which was constructed predominantly out of stone. “As we did not have much experience with this we went to the UK to see which company had expertise with stone and visited specialists Szerelmey. Not only did we learn the skills that we required but we also bought the majority of shares in the company”, says Verhoef. To date, GVK has carried out restorations on a number of prominent British sites such as 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and The Dorchester Hotel. In addition, the company has received a certificate from the Queen in recognition of the work done on the National History Museum as well as an award from the Duke of York for the ‘Best Restoration Job’ for the restoration of the Public Records Office.

Over the past 50 years, Gordon Verhoef & Krause has gone from being a small painting and decorating business in Cape Town, to leading nationwide specialists in building, renovation, restoration and recycling of buildings.

GVK-Siya Zama was launched in 1994 as the empowerment initiative of the group and today contributes significantly to the success of the group.

Krause says, “We started the company with nothing and built it up together. We have also endured and survived three recessions. We trust that GVK will live on for many, many years to come. We are a family business and have adopted each of our staff members as a part of our family. Not many businesses can say that they have employees who have stuck by them for more than 30 years”.

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