As all business owners know, your staff are your biggest asset. That’s according to Ian du Randt, managing director of Compass Waste Services. His company is one of the largest healthcare risk waste treatment companies in South Africa and a quality team is what keeps this entrepreneur at the forefront of his industry.
“Medical waste removal and disposal is a highly specialised and regulated industry and it is essential that our technology and staff work at 100% of their capacity, 100% of the time. I need my staff to arrive at work every day focused and motivated, so it is vital that I nurture and support them. I believe that if I show them respect and loyalty, they will give the same in return,” he explains.
A vital cog in this wheel is shift supervisor, William Shozi. He is responsible for overseeing the running of the Westmead plant from waste delivery to the disinfection of sharps (such as needles and scalpel blades) and infectious waste in the Bondtech Autoclaves, the storage of the anatomical and pharmaceutical waste prior to transportation to an incinerator, the removal of the autoclaved residue by Durban Solid Waste as well as the cleaning of the re-usable containers.
Although Shozi’s career began at the age of 17, it wasn’t in anything quite like what he is doing today.
He was born and raised in Mariannhill, but due to the unrest in the eighties, his mother sent him to live with his uncle in Camperdown where he completed standards six to nine.
Six years in the army in the Free State followed during which time he says he learnt the importance of hard work and working as a team. ‘’It was very tough and we trained so hard but I learnt so much.”’
After leaving the army, Shozi worked for Futura Footwear in Pinetown. ‘’I was responsible for mixing the chemicals for the rubber used for the soles of the shoes and I really enjoyed my job,’’ he remembers.
Unfortunately the company closed and William found himself unemployed.
‘’I applied for a job with the South African Police Force but they only had temporary jobs available so I became a reservist,’ he continues.
Having just got married, William knew he needed a more stable income and decided to become a night security guard over and above his police duties. He often worked seven days a week, sometimes twenty two hours a day, only sleeping during his lunch hour and for an hour after his day job and before his night shift.
‘’If I needed a break, I would ask a fellow security guard to take over from me for a night or for the weekend shifts, but I needed the money so I worked very long hours.’’
It was during this time that Shozi first met du Randt. ‘’I was the night security guard for an area in Pinetown at Old Main Road where Ian had one shipping container to store clean stock. It was in 1998 and this is how Compass started, ‘’ explains William.
‘’Ian asked me to keep an eye on the container and, every evening after work, he would come to check on the container and we would chat. He told me that one day he would have a big business and that I would work for him.’’
Du Randt interjects: “I saw the potential in William Shozi, sixteen years ago. He was reliable, hardworking and determined to provide for his family. He also understood the importance of team work. I made him a promise and as soon as I had the capacity to employ him, I did.”
In 2001, Shozi started at Compass as an onsite medical waste controller at RK Khan Hospital in Clairwood. Then he moved to Wentworth Hospital before relocating to the treatment plant in Westmead which opened in the middle of 2002.
Between 2003 and 2004, he spent some time in ‘stores’ at the Westmead office monitoring orders and controlling stock before returning to the treatment side of the business. As a result, he has a very comprehensive understanding of what is involved in medical waste removal and treatment and the non-negotiable standards and strict legislation to which Compass adheres.
Sadly, in 2012, Shozi lost his wife, Princess, to cancer after a very long battle. It was during this time that he also became ill. ‘’Ian and Judy du Randt took care of me during my illness and, when I felt stronger, I returned to my job as shift supervisor at the Westmead plant.’’
Throughout, du Randt has constantly looked for opportunities to grow and develop Shozi’s career. “He has learnt about the business from being on the ground which is invaluable in understanding how to manage people who are doing the job you previously did. He is also willing to ask for advice and support, if or when he needs it.”
What is certain is that Shozi has learnt a great deal from his mentor and role model. When asked about his management style, he replies that he believes that good communication is the key. ‘’We are all part of a team and if one of the links in the chain is weak, our team is weak.’’
Now 47 and a father to three boys, Shozi says that, when he leaves Compass, it will be to retire.