A Road Race to Remember

Celebrating co-founder Justin McCarthy's life on the 5th anniversary of his death. Groundcover staff and their extended family challenged management to a 2km 'fun run' down the Curries Post Road to Justin's memorial, marked with his characteristic 'Basotho hat', during their lunch hour. As could have been anticipated, this was a 'race to remember' in more ways than one!

Celebrating co-founder Justin McCarthy’s life on the 5th anniversary of his death. Groundcover staff and their extended family challenged management to a 2km ‘fun run’ down the Curries Post Road to Justin’s memorial, marked with his characteristic ‘Basotho hat’, during their lunch hour. As could have been anticipated, this was a ‘race to remember’ in more ways than one!

A Road Race to Remember

With July commemorating 5 years since Groundcover Leather Company’s founder Justin McCarthy’s death, it seemed wholly appropriate that a Groundcover facebook snippet warmed our hearts and ticked all the Meander Chronicle boxes to be this month’s Good News feature story. It’s a wintery time in the Midlands but this iconic Midlands company is all heart and warmth! Their new advertising personality, particularly on their facebook is all about people, product and place and makes the Midlands very proud.

Limbering up before the start.

Limbering up before the start.

They're off. The final sprint from the starting line. An enthusiastic cohort charge past Groundcover's iconic shop. There is a rumour that some of these ladies have been in intensive training for the upcoming Mandela Marathon. Photo: Keran Ducasse

They’re off. The final sprint from the starting line. An enthusiastic cohort charge past Groundcover’s iconic shop. There is a rumour that some of these ladies have been in intensive training for the upcoming Mandela Marathon. Photo: Keran Ducasse

For those perhaps unfamiliar with Groundcover’s origins, their website, www.groundcover.co.za, tells a wonderful story of this family business, well known as makers of original, finely handcrafted leather footwear and accessories. Located on a farm on the Curry’s Post Road in the KZN Midlands, the Groundcover Leather Company was founded in 1990 by Justin and Amanda McCarthy, and is “the expression of a lifelong passion for leatherwork and a search for a meaningful livelihood.”

Pacing herself. Maria chases the pack with her dog. Well actually Amanda's dog. Originally. Until the dog chose Maria over Amanda. Both eventually decided to hitch a lift though. Maria and her dog I mean. Not Maria and Amanda. Photo: Bruce Haynes

Pacing herself. Maria chases the pack with her dog. Well actually Amanda’s dog. Originally. Until the dog chose Maria over Amanda. Both eventually decided to hitch a lift though. Maria and her dog I mean. Not Maria and Amanda. Photo: Bruce Haynes

Is that all? Groundcover strongman Enoch Hlomuka celebrates his win with a number of leg squats in the middle of the Curries Post Road. Photo: Bruce Haynes

Is that all? Groundcover strongman Enoch Hlomuka celebrates his win with a number of leg squats in the middle of the Curries Post Road. Photo: Bruce Haynes

Against a background of tough economic conditions and the worst effects of globilisation, the Groundcover brand remains a testament to quality, skill and dedication of their artisans, old-fashioned customer service and a ethic of “goodness” the company has thrived. The Groundcover family has worked together for a very long time, and share a vast experience and depth of skill, which, according to Amanda McCarthy, “along with our small size, has allowed us to remain creative and innovative.”

the-finish-line

The finish line. Groundcover frontrunners catch a breath beside the memorial spot of the man who started it all with his partner Amanda 25 years ago. Photo: Bruce Haynes

Thanks to some innovation and sharing in the “marketing” portfolio, Keran Ducasse has successfully put the Groundcover personality “out there” and we LOVE what they are sharing ….

Groundcover has always striven to be a progressive and socially responsible enterprise.
In keeping with our small business ethic of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’,
we choose to focus our corporate responsibility efforts on our immediate community and environment.

Most of our workers have been recruited locally, and many live on our farm.
Our relationships are based on respect and mutual trust, and we enjoy a very informal working environment.
Over the years, we have assisted local entrepreneurs to establish leather-work, building, maintenance, taxi, trading and music businesses.
We believe that the education of young people — our future workers and leaders — holds the most promise for social and economic transformation in our community and our country. This is therefore our priority area of investment.

We subsidise the cost of school fees, books and extramural activities of our workers’ children, and provide them with school transportation.
Amanda runs a homework and study class for 15 primary and secondary schoolchildren. Many kids are excelling in their studies and in sport, with two now enrolled at tertiary institutions. Amanda is also the long-serving chairperson of the Curry’s Post Educational Trust,
an initiative of local residents that helped establish,
and now manages and raises funds for
two primary and two pre-primary schools in nearby communities.

We take our duty as stewards of our 160ha farm very seriously.
Since we arrived we have been clearing our valley of alien vegetation, and have planted hundreds of indigenous trees.
As a business we recycle our waste and take active part in our Conservancy’s efforts to keep Curry’s Post clean, safe and wildlife-friendly.