May 27th, 2015

Interview with Mr Cobus van Zyl - Vanhunks

Interview with Mr Cobus van Zyl, Vanhunks

CEO and Founder of Vanhunks Boarding


1. How could you best describe your organization?

Vanhunks Boarding is an extreme sport board manufacturing company located in Cape Town, South Africa. The idea for the company stems from a group of professionals who are active in and passionate about the surf, skate, kite, snow and SUP industries. These industries have grown tremendously in recent years, and both Kiteboarding and SUP is considered two of the fastest growing sports in the world. Our focus is to become one of the largest South African brands in the industry. South Africa is considered one of the best testing and training areas for many international brands and professional athletes. International events are being held on our doorstep every year and are increasing.

2. What makes your products/ company/ service different from others?

Our Advantages are as follows; we have some of the best shapers at our disposal and access to technology, latest material and composites used in production. Our testing grounds are world class and more and more international brands are using SA as their testing ground during the season, which we have access to the whole year round. We can also adapt to changes very quickly and in this way we always stay up to date with the latest developments. Our riders understand the extreme conditions we have and can push the limits of our products, to ensure they are made to last.

Cape Town was crowned The World Design Capital 2014, a distinction awarded to cities that recognise design as a tool for social, cultural and economic development. We leverage the creative minds around us and bring these elements into our designs and in our development strategies.

3. What customers can expect from your company?

Our mission is to supply gear that conforms to the highest levels of safety and quality. Our vision is to build a remarkable business for our children’s children that will still be shifting lives years into the future.

We built our business on five key values and live by them daily, they are:

  • Fanatical Support in all we do: create exceptional customer experiences
  • Integrity: we conduct ourselves professionally at all times and in all circumstances
  • Honesty: we are honest and forthright with customers, vendors and partners
  • Accountability: we are accountable to each other, our customers, our partners and our stakeholders
  • We believe in strong, lasting relationships: a commitment to forging long-standing partnerships with our suppliers and unmatched customer service and support

4. Why did you start working in the industry you do?

I am from a small town called George in the Garden Route of South Africa and grew up on a dairy farm. I studied at the University of Stellenbosch and completed my CA(SA). After my studies, I entered a 15 year career in corporate and ran multimillion dollar companies successfully. I do not see my years in corporate as a career, but a learning school for what I am passionate about and learning the skills to live my dream.

My passion for boardsports started from an early age. I started surfing at the age of 6 and shaped my first board at the age of 9. I shaped my first twin tip kiteboard in my garage with the help of a friend. We knew nothing, rocker lines were all wrong, heavy, thick, no flex, a complete disaster, yet we had hours of fun on this unique banana board. Over the years, we got clever and put the time and effort into understanding core materials, curing processes, vacuum processes and moulds.

After more than a decade of learning, understanding and building relationships with key players in the industry we produced our first official Vanhunks Manakel Twin Tip. The first Manakel produced is one I personally still ride today and has been a great travel companion over the years.

5. What have your biggest obstacles been in trying to expand your organisation?

Our disadvantage is that we have started this business from the ground, competing against international giants. We have to be very innovative in our products, plan our supply chain and route to the market carefully and cannot afford to make mistakes. Our company is showing massive growth year on year, and this is telling us there is a massive demand for our products nationally and internationally.

Currently, we are implementing distribution facilities for Europe with the help of SANEC and Expeditors and this will increase our service delivery into the European market. Distributors and end users will have Vanhunks products readily available on their doorstep. Our medium term strategy is to role the same model out to the USA and Australia by early 2016.

6. How can SANEC help with positioning of your company?

To grow our business, we have to have the correct partners. We want to leverage the network of organisations and networking opportunities SANEC provide to partner with and expand our business nationally and internationally.
SANEC has put us in contact with key role players to expand our company in the Nederland and this will be our main route to market for Europe. We believe this will give us a good advantage over our competitors and increase our market share. It is early days for us in a new market and will be heavily depend on the correct advice and support.



Tel: 0027 21 556 4398 or 8518