The flooring industry bids farewell to a man that has played a significant role in this sector, leaving many saddened by the loss of an icon.
It is always difficult to share the news of a significant industry player’s passing, which results in a loss for both the industry as well as those who travelled a long journey with that individual – in this instance, the flooring sector both mourns and celebrates the loss and life of Basil Kretzmer who, before retiring, was Managing Director at Selborne Carpet Wholesalers, considered one of the most respected companies in the local floorcovering industry.
According to Liezel van der Merwe, Managing Editor of FLOORS in Africa magazine, she and Basil shared a love for the Broadway show, Les Miserables. Basil’s brother, Herbert Kretzmer, was one of three people who wrote the lyrics to the song “I dreamed a dream” sung in the musical.
“Basil was consistent in marketing Selborne Carpet Wholesalers in FLOORS in Africa magazine, placing their ‘clock’ advert for many years,” says Liezel. “Visiting Basil was like visiting family friends – I was always warmly welcomed by him. He was one of my father’s (Schalk Burger) first clients and my father always spoke highly of him.”
Liezel highlights that Basil applied an acute awareness of detail in the business, for example, personally signing off on every single invoice and at all times knowing who ordered what. “Basil immediately knew when a client was ordering less and he always followed up,” she continues. “He was also consistent with everything in his business and his relationships with people. His passion and dedication will be greatly missed, but his legacy will always remain intact.”
In turn, Top Carpets have expressed that they hold Basil in the highest esteem and have done so for many years. They remember him servicing his customers with an unforgettable affection, and Brian Hoyle, Commercial Director at Top Carpets, had the good fortune of knowing him as a customer, competitor and supplier and he enthuses that it was a privilege to deal with him in all categories.
“We also recall in fondness the strength of his family and the closeness of his wife Molly and children Jonathan and Yolanda,” comments Brian. “So too we remember his generosity and the kindness that he bestowed upon his friends. It has been an honour for Top Carpets to be one of those friends.”
According to Frank Moffat, CEO of Belgotex Floorcoverings, Basil was always a massive supporter of their company, always providing them with a large opening order when they would launch a new range. “He had a tremendous ‘feel’ for carpeting and a good understanding of which colours would be the best sellers within a new range,” says Frank. “He also remained faithful to carpeting and would always proudly state that he was the ‘only wholesaler that only sold carpets’. Belgotex salutes this icon of the floorcovering industry!”
Stephan Colle, Belgotex Floorcoverings’ Chairman, adds that Basil was a true business partner in his day, where a word was a word i.e. nothing was done in writing. “As noted by Frank, he had a natural eye and feel for colour and style and was always on the lookout for a bargain,” he says. “In all the years of working with Basil, he never paid a day late and never asked for extended terms.”
Jan Hofmeyer, Sales Manager at Belgotex Gauteng, reiterates the above sentiments and adds that Basil was one of his first big customers in terms of rand value and volume in those days (1999), and acted as mentor to him. “Through my dealings with Basil and the people of Selborne Wholesale Carpets, I got to know this industry and develop an absolute passion for it,” explains Jan. “In fact, it was this account in the early days of working for Belgotex Floorcoverings that gave me a solid foundation from where I could build a career in the flooring industry.”
Bernd de Smedt from Van Dyck concludes by highlighting that he fondly remembers Basil as a tough negotiator, always asking for the best possible deal but, at the same time, he was an honest business man with high integrity and moral values. “Basil taught me that hard work and a hands-on approach are the best foundation for any successful business together with solid, long-term partnerships with customers and suppliers,” he says.
The flooring industry is proud to have been involved with Basil over a span of several years, and will always remember him for what he stood for, and the invaluable contribution he made to this sector.