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Margaret Hirsch | Chief Operations Executive | Hirsch's Homestores

Margaret Hirsch: A ‘Jack of All Trades’ in the Family Business

A true champion in business is one who firmly believes in giving back to the society, especially to the people who are in need. It is a way of showing gratitude for what society has done for you and your business. Not just limited to giving back, but to potentially uplift the various strata of society is a sign of exemplary goodwill that a leader must possess.
With a strong sense of survival and positive attitude, one can lead its own way through the difficulties faced in a long tenure of not just any business, but life as well.
Living by these principles and getting through the tough times while setting an example, Margaret Hirsch is an inspiration to many. Through sheer determination and positive attitude, she has led Hirsch’s Homestores for forty-one years now. Being the Chief Operations Executive at the company,
Margaret has been integrally involved with all aspects of the business. She regards herself as the ‘jack of all trades,’ as she has done everything from selling, invoicing, and demonstrating, to being a delivery person on the trucks, installing, and performing live demos in customers’ homes.
Insights Success brings the incredible story of a woman who has been inspiring others to uplift themselves by living their dreams. Given below are the insightful details, answered by Margaret herself:
What is your definition of success?
Success is to be healthy, wealthy and wise, as you can’t help other people unless you are in peak physical condition, financially independent and you have learned as much as you can on any given subject. To me, success is about remaining financially free and being able to help other women to get there and to achieve their goals.  The road to the top is long and windy and if you can have others join you along the way, it goes faster. It is far more pleasant and gives you greater satisfaction. Behind every successful woman is a whole tribe of other women who have her back – for some, I am the successful woman in the lead and for others, I am the one who has their back!
How do you strive to achieve it every day?
Every day without fail I exercise, invest and learn. I am financially independent, and I help women, on a daily basis to achieve their goals by teaching them to help themselves achieve their goals.  I work with babies, children, teenagers, young women striving to get ahead, self-made millionaires and in old age homes. Women are women, never mind age, color or creed. They all have their issues but mostly all they need is a bit of empathy, a shoulder to cry on and someone to give them good solid advice – that someone must not want to do it for any personal gain but just to be of service and help to them.
Tell us more about your company.
I own the largest independent appliance, electronic start-up, bedding, and furniture store in South Africa. My husband and I started the business as a repair company in 1979 and it has grown steadily since then. We have stood the test of time, weathered many storms and come out on the other side.  We have recently handed the reigns over to our only son who is determined to grow the company to greater heights while not losing sight of the founders’ mentality that has been our success. We strive to have happy returning customers and create raving fans!
Service is our mantra as we started as a service company only and then branched into sales further down the line.  In 1994 we sold all the services in our company, e.g., transport, repairs, installations, etc., to our staff and started them in their own businesses and it is our joy and pleasure to see these companies grow. In some cases, we handed down the businesses on to the original contractors’ children.  We still give the best possible service to our customers from a repair and a sales perspective.
What are the major challenges you came/come across in your career?
We look upon every challenge as an opportunity and are aware that we are only growing in the hard times.  Every challenge has taken us to new heights, for example being swindled out of everything we had after 10 years of working hard and having to start all over again but you know, if you have done it once you can do it again – and we did. From the depths of someone else’s debt to claw our way back up again seemed an insurmountable feat, however, we did it and went on to grow from strength to strength. How did/do you tackle them? Well, there is no magic formula. You just tackle one challenge and cross one bridge at a time.  It is necessary to learn from one’s mistakes but the most important thing to remember is that the first time you make the mistake – it’s a mistake, the second time you are an idiot!  Never make the same mistake twice!
As a business leader, what is your vision for your company?
Having now reached my three score years and ten, I am on borrowed time so my husband and I have handed over the reins of the business to our children – our son Richard (43) is now CEO and our daughter Luci (41) is a Director.  We have a wonderful team of educated and talented people to take over, as well as Directors who have been with us for 30 years and more, to balance the young bucks and the older team members.
According to you, how important is it to be updated with technology as per your industry sector?
Absolutely vital – technology is part of our business and I am grateful that through this I am kept up to date daily with the latest technology.  I never cease to be amazed at the ingenious inventions of our time- or how quickly we take them for granted.
As a woman business leader, what is your opinion on the necessity of women in leadership roles?
It is absolutely vital – especially in our industry where 85% of the decisions to buy are made by women!  To this end, I work in the schools on a weekly basis training girls on life and how to start and run a business as well as how to be independent and stand strong as they will not only have to take care of themselves but their children as well.
How do you strategize on scaling your company in the near future?
As technology is moving so fast and shopping trends are also changing rapidly, we must be able to be completely flexible, adaptable and ready to change course in a heartbeat.  We are so privileged to be living in these exciting times where life is galloping faster than ever before – we have to think on our feet and always be ahead of the pack.