THE WHEEL DEAL
YOU South Africa|4 November 2021
He’s a whizz at making furniture out of old tyres
MELON RADEBE

THERE’S not much you can do to salvage a wornout tyre. When the tread wears out many of us take our cars to the tyre shop to have new ones fitted. But as Benathi Makiyela will tell you, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

The 23-year-old entrepreneur makes innovative furniture from old tyres he collects from motor spares shops and scrap heaps.

Benathi got the idea to repurpose old, worn-out tyres while painting schools in KwaZulu-Natal. “I was inspired by how the playground swings were made of tyres and loved the way paint brightened up schools,” he says.

In 2018, Benathi, aged just 20, opened the doors to Makiyela Tyre Recycling and Cleaning Services – and the company has gone from strength to strength.

“Our team now consists of five people,” he says proudly.

Having started small, they now make chairs, tables, feeding troughs, flowerpots and swings. The company has grown its staff complement too: there’s a welder who specialises in frames, someone who deals with their finances and a freelance lawyer who gives legal advice.

Benathi also employs his younger brother, Mphumezi, to sew and paint the tyres and to drill holes in them.

Benathi’s duties include managing and marketing the business, as well as manufacturing the furniture and other products. At first, the guys worked from home but they’ve since moved the business to a friend’s house situated near a busy highway where motorists can see the unique sets.

Benathi says it takes 10 to 14 days to manufacture four chairs and a table but teamwork makes the dream work.

“Someone washes the tyres and paints, then another drills holes and sews. Someone else combines the tyres and adds frames and I assess the product and deliver it to the client.”

A set of four chairs with steel armrests and a table costs R3 500, while two chairs with wooden armrests and a table cost R3 200.

“Business is going well,” Benathi says. Yet as any entrepreneur will know, getting the business off the ground hasn’t been a walk in the park.

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