Duncan Keil | UPP Group (Pty) Ltd
Programme sponsor: Barloworld
“The programme took me down to the nitty gritty of understanding how a business works”
After Duncan Keil completed his schooling and served his time in the Navy, he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. His father was in the insurance business and so Duncan joined him. He soon learned that he was not cut out for a life of suits and collars. He decided to become an apprentice plumber, with the idea of starting his own business one day.
In 2001, Under Pressure Plumbing opened for business. More of a sportsman and less of a scholar, Duncan found the on-the-job entrepreneurial learning a challenge. “I had to learn how to get clients, how to pay people etc. That education was a challenge, but I learned through the process,” Duncan says. In 2019, he was selected for business-development programme sponsored by Barloworld and powered by Raizcorp.
Through the learning and guiding (mentoring) that he received, Duncan’s learning increased exponentially. “When I joined Raizcorp, I had already furthered my education by acquiring an MBA through university. I’d become more skilled at running a business and I’d done some business coaching. Raizcorp blew my socks off – it was on a different level. The programme took me down to the nitty gritty of understanding how a business works,” he says. “The first year was hard, but the second year was where the magic really started to happen.”
When the Covid pandemic hit, Duncan felt the true value of his guiding sessions. “I had a vision for the company and a five-year plan to get there. With the pressure of the pandemic, we reached that vision in one year. We’ve rebranded as UPP Group because we’ve evolved beyond just a plumbing company. We’re an empowerment company for plumbers and people. We’ve started taking on a female apprentice plumber every year, and we have so much more in the pipeline,” Duncan says.
In a thank-you message to his programme sponsor, Barloworld he says, “Thank you for the opportunity. We’ve met some really gifted people and they’ve taught us so much. It has really opened so many doors for us. I am determined to give back as much as I have been given.”