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The Thin Line Between Work and Play: A Thursdate with Billy, The Mold-Maker

There are people who play hard and those that work hard...then there are those that get paid to play hard. Want to know how to get paid to play hard? We interviewed one of our talented tenants who gets to do just that. Billy Bezeidenhout, The Mold Maker (as he is affectionately known) has a very successful mold making business; he gets paid to do what he loves most.

Here's what he had to say:

 What do you do?

I started off as a Fine Arts Sculptor, that’s where I received the art of mold making and reproducing pretty much anything. I fell in love with the processes and the processes have become a form of art for me. What I do is reproduce molds of products that would usually cost a lot of money to reproduce. My clients are varied, I have clients in fields such as Engineering, Aviation and Medicine. The products I make are usually used for research and development so I give the people in these fields an opportunity to reproduce these things a bit cheaper. My work serves as a product spec that allows clients to conduct product testing before they invest millions of rands into the actual product and before mass production. What you will notice with my work is that the details are emulate.

Billy's medical bone molds: spinal cord

Billy's medical bone molds: skull and femur

One of the projects I am working on is creating molds of bones for the medical field for doctors to practise on before they operate on humans. The other project is making molds of gun stocks; this was actually an experiment where we carved the guns ourselves then molded them and we are going to be wrapping the gun stocks with carbon fibre. 

What are you currently working on?

 Billy and Vusi with gun stock molds

 Billy and Vusi with gun stock molds

Billy and Vusi with airplane wing tip molds

Billy with airplane wing tip molds

The other project is for the aviation industry, where I am making molds of wing tips for one of my clients, Rainbow Sky Reach for an aeroplane called Bush Cat. I reproduce a number of parts for them from mold.

What makes you different?

I can reproduce anything, even stuff that machines cannot reproduce. We make extraordinary products by hand. Machines cannot do some of the work that I produce yet. A lot of people find it hard to believe that my products are handmade. They look at my products and find it hard to believe that they are handmade. I usually get asked ‘wow, what machine did you use to make this product? Where can I buy this machine? We have a lot of fun; I have a massive passion for what I do.

Billy and his handmade’ hand-hanger’ (complete with his fingerprints)

Billy and his handmade’ hand-hanger’ (complete with his fingerprints)

Billy and his handmade’ hand-hanger’ (complete with his fingerprints)

Why did you start this type of business?

I am fascinated by reproducing things to the finest detail; it’s always exciting, no product is the same as the next. It’s all individual; every product is unique and it needs to be treated as such. The work we produce is always exciting and challenging; you can never stop learning and it is always a new experience. It never gets boring because every single thing has its own requirements and we have to figure it out as we go along.

People pay me a lot of money to play hard

My thinking is ‘why go do a 9 to 5 when I can actually make money out of something you love?’. My business is rather successful; I am making my bucks by doing what I love and people pay me a lot of money to play hard.

There’s a niche for the sort of products that I do and I service a wide variety of clients, from doctors, engineers to fine artists.

I am able to take something as soft as clay and reproduce it by casting it in bronze or metal and get the absolute detail that is required. A lot of artists can make things but they cannot reproduce it, that’s why what I do has become an art form for me.

Build a strong network

Once you’re passionate about what you do people see the passion, it’s quite infectious. When people see this they talk about it a lot and that helps a lot. If you’re passionate about what you do, the need to wow your clients will come naturally.

I don’t advertise, it’s all by word of mouth. Like I said, I started off in the fine arts industry where I used to service about 450 artists locally and internationally. I used to work in bronze foundry and I had the opportunity to work with some of the best artists in South Africa and beyond.

Eventually I built my own bronze foundry and that was difficult to manage by myself. Doing all the work myself was a very intensive process so I decided to focus on one process that I love, which is mold making. That’s where it all started and over the years, I’ve built a strong professional network of suppliers, artists and clients. By word of mouth my name has gotten around quite well; there’s quite a demand for the work.

Work as hard as you play & deliver excellence

As fun as my work is, it’s still a lot of hard work which means that I am in my unit until 10pm to 11pm most nights. I always say ‘these things are not going to build themselves’. I am pretty much doing everything myself, from invoices, client visits to the actual products. Keeping my clients happy is important to me that’s why I cannot let anything get out of my shop if I am not 100% happy with it. I have serious attention to detail and I don’t want to send out mediocre products when I am promising extraordinary handmade products.

Entrepreneurs don’t follow the rules, they create them

I decided to start my own business because I am a difficult person to start off with; I work very well with people but I can’t work for other people. It’s just my personality. I have a lot of drive and focusing my energy on my own things allows me to put so much more of myself into my work better than I could if I was working for someone else.

I have this vision in my head of where I would like this to be in a couple of years and having my own business allows me to work on that vision.

Face your biggest challenges to learn and grow

The business is going really well so the biggest challenge right now is staying on top of everything, especially the admin side of things. Admin and dealing with clients are not my strong points but they are a part of my work. It is a challenge but it is forcing me to grow and I am learning a lot from pushing myself to do the work instead of getting someone else to do it. There’s so much work and keeping everyone happy while producing extraordinary products with every order takes a lot of doing.

The risk factor doesn’t go away with time, start your own business now

When it comes to starting your own business, there’s always a risk factor. It is better to start your own business sooner rather than later because the risk factor never goes away.

I had to take a plunge to start my own business; I have a little daughter and it was the most difficult time to start a business but I realised that the risk factor simply never goes away. You can either start your business now or try to start it in 10 years’ time when you have more responsibilities. Whether you start now or later, you’ll be just as scared. If you have a great idea, the best way to get it done is to start. I believe that “a true envisioner doesn’t sit around and wait for things to happen, he goes out and happens to things”. 

Billy has a National Diploma in Performing Arts Technology at the Tshwane University of Technology where he mastered the construction of armatures and the human form under the leadership of Angus Taylor, one of South Africa's most renowned sculptors.

Here’s a quick gallery of some of Billy’s work:

Billy's skull mold

Billy's skin prosthetics molding and casting

 If you want to know more about Billy Bezeidenhout, his work and his business, The Mold Maker, email him, visit his website or contact him on 082 410 8600.

No matter what business you’re in, Storehouse has the right space for you. Our business is helping your business run smoothly. Send us your details and we'll help you find the right office, workshop, showroom, studio, storage and parking space for your business.

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