Radley Private School visits Builders Warehouse distribution centre in Midrand

As an educational institution that is integrating entrepreneurship into the entire CAPS curriculum, Radley Private School’s learners (or entrepreneurs, as they are known) are exposed to all types of business models through visits to factories, distribution centres, retail stores, fast-food operations, etc.
The entrepreneurs are immersed in the dynamics of those businesses, and gain a greater understanding of how they work, what issues they face and what opportunities they can take advantage of. Currently, most mainstream learners leave matric without even understanding the difference between a manufacturer, a wholesaler and a retailer. Radley’s entrepreneurs have the ability to clearly distinguish between the various business categories, understand the differences in business models and have an awareness of the opportunities that relate to those particular models.
Last month, the Radley Private School matric learners – or entrepreneurs, as they are known at the school – were privileged to visit the Builders Warehouse distribution centre in Waterfall, Midrand. This impressive facility has a warehouse space of 50 000m2 and is responsible for supplying stock to 70% of Builders Warehouse, Builders Trade Depot, Builders Superstore and Builders Express stores across South Africa and Africa.

The matric class was fortunate enough to receive an in-depth overview of the entire supply chain process from senior members of the Builders team including their supply chain head, Diane Hoffman. They learned that Builders forms part of the Massmart group of companies which is the second biggest retailer on the African continent and the biggest distributor of consumer goods. They also discovered that Walmart (the world’s biggest retailer by revenue and largest private employer) has a controlling stake in Massmart. The class was told about the pioneering work of Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, in the field of supply chain.

The Builders team took the matric class through a detailed presentation of how the supply chain process works, covering areas such as auto replenishment, process engineering, system and process optimisation and warehouse and distribution. They fielded numerous questions from the Radley entrepreneurs who were fascinated by the complexities and sheer scale of the operation.

Following the presentation, the entrepreneurs were taken on a tour of the actual warehouse where they saw how stock comes into the warehouse (where it is captured on wrist-mounted scanning devices with thumb scanners) and how it is stored in rows and rows of towering shelves before leaving the warehouse at the other end on large trucks with specially built shelving to limit damage to the moving goods.

By the end of the tour, the supply chain mantra of “the right product, at the right time, at the right place” was a firmly imbedded concept in the minds of all Radley’s matric entrepreneurs!