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Groundcover: The rise of the second generation

Published: 26th Jan 2024
Author: By Daniel McCarthy; Groundcover

The Midlands, KZN, SA – 2023 was a big year for Groundcover.

The business was founded by my parents, Amanda and Justin McCarthy, in the KZN midlands in 1990.

What started as a passion for leatherwork has since grown into a sensibly sized and sustainable business that employs 30 individuals.

What has been key to our success is the community we have created around us; most of our staff have been with us for 25+ years and our business has invested in them. For example, we pay the school fees of all our staffs’ children, we support them in extra-mural activities and have a classroom on our premises to assist with homework etc. We have now had about 60 kids come through our education system with a large number of those going on to tertiary education and starting professional careers. This community we have created has got us through tough times, like Justin’s untimely passing in 2010 and the covid pandemic in 2020; looking forward, this community continues to be central to our future success.

1996: Justin and Amanda McCarthy and range.

2023: Daniel and Angela McCarthy and updated range.

Following my father’s passing, my mother ably ran the business along with Don Tully as a factory manager for over 12 years. Fortunately, in 2022, my wife, Angela, and I, returned from the UK to begin the process of taking over the business.
Although I’d grown up at Groundcover, I’m an economist by trade and it has been an adjustment going from a corporate London office to a small leather factory in the midlands – but the solid foundations around us have enabled this transition.
2023 has been a big year for Groundcover. We invested in a solar PV system that has taken us 80% off grid. We were able to upgrade some of our machinery with the help of Colin Parker from PMC, and we adjusted to the transition of Don’s retirement.
We have also done a lot of work to improve our offering; we have refined our range by cutting some old styles whilst also launching new styles (and re-launching some old discontinued ones). We have built a new website for online sales and have just opened our first store in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, in Gauteng.

2001: Have Land-Rover will travel - Justin and Amanda with their kids Bronwyn, Daniel, Frances and Holly (and a friend).

2023: The recreated Land-Rover photo is Daniel and Angela McCarthy, with kids Rafael and Stefano.

Although faced with a tough industry in a struggling economy, the future of Groundcover looks bright. We will continue to explore new avenues for growth while sticking to our core values of offering a good value for money product, as we know that most of our customers are return clientele. With the continued support of our community, our suppliers, and our customers – new and old – we are looking to continue breaking the mould by being a successful business, but in a meaningful way.

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