Another year has come and gone and we are left to ponder “did we grow the business or did we just exist”?  Human selfreflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence. Without this capacity we are beast?

I am skeptical of businesses that do not have the ability of self reflection. At The Powder Keg we do. In people it is easier to recognize because they know it all and have done it all before, but in business it takes real leadership to have self reflection. Normally those that contribute the least have the most to say.

On numerous occasions we have been asked who the owners of The Powder Keg are.  Let the truth be known, customers are the owners of The Powder Keg because without customers there is no business. Paul Luff and I pictured with one such owner of the business since 1976.

Our successes in 2017 were focused around brand development of products that we represent in South Africa. The South African market is strongly influenced by American gear whereas my living in Europe has changed my perspective of value. Broadly speaking, Americans have the gift of marketing and Europeans the gift of product quality. Huntex was a successful branding event for The Powder Keg in 2017.

In Europe many successful businesses started out by producing a product in an area of their engineering passion, and over the years became successful because of product quality and innovation. In America wealth is created quicker but it can be less sustainable. We are biased to European shooting gear except for reloading equipment and components where the sheer size of the USA market drove big investments in reloading.

I live continuous improvement, it is in my blood.  This time last year I reflected and adjusted because it was my belief that I was pushing The Powder Keg too fast.  I was living “legacy is a 1 day problem”.  I then communicated to the team that 2017 was about “better today than yesterday” and not necessarily about being the best.

Now we are left to reflect on 2017 and adjust for 2018. There was significant transformation at The Powder Keg but I see a year that we existed. We achieved a lot, but I have high expectations. Champions have the ability to forget their achievements and set up new goals all the time. 

We will ensure that The Powder Keg achieves greater heights irrespective of the economy. In corporate you get “sand-bagging of targets” and the excuses like “we did not grow because the market did not grow”. Bullshit to all of that.  Leadership is a fine balance between driving urgency which inspires people and panic which has teams freezing up and delivering even less.

The SA economy is down but we must deal with it. There are many businesses that rest on their laurels and cannot change with the times. The Powder Keg will grow by taking market share in ways that deliver more customer value. 

The opportunity to the industry is that “the market is not the market”.  Only a small segment of the population participate in shooting of one form or another; we must promote shooting to all South Africans. Look at how the auto industry performed over the past 15 years vs. the shooting and hunting segments.

The Powder Keg represents a few “gems of products” and 2018 will be about taking these products to every corner of the country.  We chose carefully those products that were the highest value-price-to-performance shooting gear. We also looked at the people driving these organizations; they determine tomorrow. 

In comes Kirsten Knox, a new member of the team who brings leadership and discipline. Discipline is not only about being on time but includes many aspects of life and business such ensuring words and actions are consistent and staying focused on the golden thread.  Kirsten often brings us back to much needed FOCUS.

I have been part of successful teams. My successes were always as a result of others contributions.  Be weary of managers who keep telling you what they have achieved, or when there is a problem they blame others. Kirsten will help The Powder Keg build winning teams, he recognizes others contributions. Shaun (above) has blossomed into a star that we are proud of!

The Powder Keg is all about LIFESTYLE. In 2018 we will invest further in lifestyle abroad such as family safaris and tourism. The Powder Keg will build on its participation in a 10 year hunting concession in Slovenia, and tourism property that is well located and unique.

An area that The Powder Keg focuses a lot on is its communication. More and more customers will be interacting with The Powder Keg via email and over the phone. Their judgement of our professionalism will mainly come down to how we communicate and follow-up.

No-one knows the value of communication more than myself; living 12 years in Slovenia and so pathetic that I don’t speak the language, meaning I have honed other skills to help me connect, especially in hunting which is the only forum I have encountered where not everyone speaks English.

With passion and from the heart The Powder Keg wishes everyone who reads this message a great Christmas and the best for the new year. Don’t rely on luck only, take charge of 2018.