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Where Others Run From Challenges Daniel Tall Is Running Towards Them

New Zealand country boy strikes it rich in South Africa by pursuing his dream of a better life.

Monique Verduyn

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Daniel-Tall

Vital Stats

  • Player: Daniel Tall
  • Company: DW Bullion
  • Established: 2010
  • Contact: dwbullion.co.za

At last count, there were more than 54 000 South Africans living in New Zealand. Not only is it one of the safest countries in the world, but it also offers a fantastic lifestyle with lots of things to do. So why would anyone leave to come here?

Daniel Tall did that five and a half years ago and he’s loving it. Why? Because where others run from challenges, he sees only opportunity. Tall grew up on a farm in rural New Zealand. Dyslexic, he left school at 15, having hated every minute of it. He went to work as a baker, all the time wondering how he was going to get rich.

Related: 6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa

Taking the business model to SA shores

After ten years he decided it was time to hang up his apron and he started selling aluminum joinery. It turned out that he was a great salesman and his next move was into residential property development in Christchurch. He was highly successful, until the market crashed in 2008 and everything came tumbling down around him.

To survive, he and business partner William Fitzgerald bought gold from people, turning it into bullion and selling it to jewellers. They made a killing, earning NZ$11 000 in their first four hours of business — in what was already a saturated market. That prompted Fitzgerald, who is married to a South African, to suggest that they test their idea here.

“We set up our first gold buying kiosk at The Galleria Mall in Amanzimtoti in 2010,” Tall recalls. “No-one offered this service to people who had unwanted or damaged gold jewellery. Pawn shops were an option, but people generally have a negative view of them. We were the first to offer a professional gold buying service which gave customers fair value for their jewellery, in a safe environment.”

Tall and Fitzgerald discovered, to their amazement, that there were tons of gold people wanted to get rid of. They hired their first employee within two weeks, and today they have 19 kiosks in shopping centres around the country.

Determined to be wealthy

“We were not entrepreneurs who came here with a big plan,” he stresses. “We wanted to make money, and if other people could do it, so could we. After we started the business, we made decisions and changes along the way as we figured out what worked and what didn’t. It was incredible how the market embraced our concept.”

He says they had little competition when the business got off the ground. “Several companies have tried to compete with us, but our company DW Bullion has remained the biggest and most successful in nature.”

Tall puts much of the business’ success down to organic growth.

“Every time we encountered a problem, we built a system to fix it. One of the first tasks was to ensure we always remained compliant. In New Zealand, you can buy gold anywhere, but here the premises have to be licensed, and maintaining legitimacy can be difficult, which is why systems are critical.”

He says slow growth coupled with long-term goals are fundamental to any business. “After launching, we opened 12 additional kiosks within three months, almost destroying the venture in the process. We had too many stores and no control, with staff robbing us blind. Thankfully the gold price was rising so that helped to save the business, as did slowing down its growth.”

Related: 27four Investment Managers Aren’t Afraid Of The Big Boys

Tall is most excited about DW Bullion recently becoming an official gold refining company. His goal now is to become the second biggest in the country, after Rand Refinery, which currently refines most of Africa’s gold and serves the world gold market. Not bad for a baker.

Tall has documented his success story in his book, A Tall Order, published in 2015 and written to motivate others. In it he writes, “Your emotions dictate your decisions, which drive your actions and ultimately determine your results!”

Do this

Early success will often tempt you to scale quickly. Don’t do it. Slow, organic growth will usually lead to a more stable and sustainable business model.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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