Joseph gardens his way to success

Joseph Dzviti is a man who knows how to grab on to opportunities.

This month his enthusiasm also helped him snatch an award.

Mr Dzviti, of Wallacedene, came to South Africa seven years ago to further his education. He crossed the border from Zimbabwe with his mom to pursue a career in landscaping.

It was his love of nature that attracted him to the field, he said.

“At school I did biology and geography but I thought I’m not doing this because I’m not good at it. But I like nature so I started gardening. Now, I love it.”

Three years ago, Mr Dzviti joined the team at Stodels in Bellville.

“Although he had completed a short horticultural course and worked as a gardener with a landscaping company he had no retail experience and we didn’t have a position in the garden centre for him,” said managing director Nick Stodel.

“However, his passion and enthusiasm impressed the manager so he hired him – giving him a junior position of assistant with his scope of work to look after the animals in the play park area.”

But Mr Dzviti was a man on a mission and he grabbed every training opportunity the store had to offer. He also volunteered to lead staff training in morning meetings and when public transport became a problem, he got a motorcycle licence and bought a bike.

Very quickly he was promoted from his junior assistant position, up the ranks to department manager. Within that time he had completed five courses and established himself as a succulent and indigenous plant specialist.

And it wasn’t just training opportunities that he seized. When water restrictions forced the store to close its ornamental fountain, Mr Dzviti spotted another opportunity.

“I thought out of the box,” he said.

“They said we must take the water feature out and throw it away but I said, ‘What if we do a small display garden?’”

Joseph painstakingly turned the dried up fountain into a succulent display. It took him three weeks.

“It’s just a sample of what you can do,” he said.

“I always walk the extra mile to show that I can do more than what you expect me to do.”

His enthusiasm was noticed by his employers who, without his knowledge, nominated him in the South African Nursery Association (SANA) awards.

SANA is a non-profit organisation started in 1947 to create a network for the green industry. It has since grown to represent the nursery industry as a whole as well as individual, related associations.

Mr Dzviti’s win, in the Young Retailer of the Year award category, was announced at the SANA Convention, at the Champagne Sports Resort in the Drakensberg, on Wednesday June 14.

The written nomination his employers submitted showed how Mr Dzviti proved himself right from the start, even staying at the garden centre overnight to ensure one of the goats who had given birth, and her kid, were doing okay.

“He has such a big heart and a wonderful work ethic,” Mr Stodel said. While his win came as a surprise to Mr Dzviti, he by no means considers it to be his crowning achievement.

“I’m happy,” he said. “But I also want to have my own business.”