Vermont Sales Celebrates its third year of supporting the UJ Young Designers Challenge at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

Overall winners announced for 2020 at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

When people collaborate, amazing things happen. For the last couple of years, Vermont Sales and the University of Johannesburg have collaborated with HOMEMAKERS for the inventive Young Designers Challenge.

This year the ideas generated behind the theme was to design products that change and improve people’s lifestyles. Top products were on display at the Expo where the winning design was chosen. Visitors could view all these innovations around smart water tanks, tech-savvy kitchen sinks and taps, home organisers and AI assistants, smart kitchenware and smart tools.

Prizes were awarded by Vermont Sales to the first 3 overall winners from some of their leading international brands. First place went to Katlego Madumo for his V56 Smart Hedge Trimmer, he was presented with the Tork Craft Tool Trolley complete with a full set of tools.  Second place was Loubser Meyer for his Triton mt101 smart combination saw who received a Festool C18 cordless drill set. Natalie Selibas took third place for her BinList receiving the latest Worx Pegasus multi-function worktable.

Choosing the winners was a difficult task because all the designs are in essence ground-breaking. To understand the process a little better we asked the team behind the young designer’s challenge, Martin Bolton, senior lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and Greg de Villiers from Sales at Vermont Sales a few questions.

What is the 2020 UJ Young Designers Challenge all about? “The challenge is an opportunity for students to link with industry partners to develop smart products which illustrate how they see these future products making people’s lives easier and better. The result was a collection of novel and interesting concept products which illustrate local South African Industrial Design talent. Kitchen appliances that think for you, workshop tools that are safer to use, and garden products saving water. “

“As the UJ Department of Industrial Design is preparing students to enter our local industry, the more we are aligned and participate with industry partners the better. This partnership with HOMEMAKERS and Vermont Sales has allowed our students to learn about the value of marketing and exhibitions from the HOMEMAKERS team, while at the same time understand more about the South African landscape of tools and appliances. The brief this year was undertaken as the third-year BA Industrial Design student’s exam project, as the final project of their 3 years Bachelor’s course. The brief for the project was the researching and designing of a smart appliance and tool systems which incorporates digital technology in order to improve the user experience and increase safety, said Bolton.

Vermont Sales invited the students to visit their warehouse and tool demonstration centre and took them through a large amount of novel, different, useful and smart tools. This sparked a lot of interest and students used this at the starting point for their industrial design process of product development.

“Vermont Sales as a South African business is keenly interested in our people. At our core, our business is driven by innovation. By supporting this initiative, we are reminded of this and this presented an opportunity to give back so that we can demonstrate our commitment. It is important to expose our brands. The design challenge affords us a unique way to do so while at the same time providing a platform to young designers,” said Greg de Villiers brand manager at Vermont Sales.”

The design brief is often very wide and futuristic. While we have not developed any product yet, the door to this is very much open. We have employed former students to work in our own design department. This has provided enormous value to us as well as gainful employment. This year the students have done exceptional well and we congratulate the overall winners for their unique innovative designs,” said de Villiers

Caption Overall Winners of the 2020 Vermont Sales UJ Young Designers Challenge at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

  1. Costa Stavrakis Festool, Vermont Sales, 2nd place Loubser Meyer, Mbongeni Nhlapo Vermont Sales Training Academy, Katlego Madumo overall winner, third placed Natalie Selibas, Samantha van der Merwe (Camara)Communication Executive Home Makers and Martin Bolton, senior lecturer at the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg.
  2. Katlego Madumo overall winner with his V56 Smart Hedge Trimmer was presented with the Tork Craft Tool Trolley complete with a full set of tools.
  3. Second placed Loubser Meyer for his Triton mt101 smart combination saw who received a Festool C18 cordless drill set.
  4. Natalie Selibas took third place for her BinList receiving the latest Worx Pegasus multi-function worktable.
  5. The Vermont Sales UJ Young Designers Challenge stand at the HOMEMAKERS Expo

The Vermont Sales brand range is available from all leading suppliers countrywide, for more information contact, Vermont Sales on 011 314 7711 or visit their web site Trade enquiries welcome


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Our History, Executive Summary & Company Values

Growth through Partnering

As Essential Hardware, we are proud to be the Gold Award winners of the “Voluntary Trading Group of the year” for THREE consecutive years (most recent – November 2018). This family of Members are all independent stores that have one main common trait…they are all entrepreneurs. The Essential Group assists these stores in a variety of ways which required a wide ranging set of
retail solutions to be available and customisable for each unique need. The offering – A national retail brand of independent retailers leveraging buying power and retail business services to reach retail maturity and achieve the required growth.

The Essential Group, established 2005, started out by partnering with independent, community based, owner-run hardware stores as a national buying group. This quickly evolved (by member demand) into a national brand – Essential Hardware. Immediately thereafter, a series of customised value-adding services were brought into the offering adding to the buying group and brand to include high quality operational science & marketing support.

Our model has proved so successful our partnerships comprise a family of over 650 members throughout South and Southern Africa, whose membership is still continuously growing. Our model, which we guarantee subject to specific conditions, has further enabled us to be the proud recipients of the accolade of being the Gold Award winners for “Voluntary Trading Group of the year” for the past two consecutive years.
In 2017 we introduced a new Specialty Retail Brand, Paint Tend ’n Trade. Leveraging our substantial retail resource pool, supplier network and national geographic footprint, this new brand is focused on being a premium, specialist paint destination, once again providing unique solutions for our members and customers.
We view the (well established) Buying Group as a business ENABLER and now, in 2018, have formally announced a new ENABLER, Essential Growth Solutions. This new enabler is focused on B2B transformational partnerships and will leverage the, well established, Buying Group & national retail footprint of over 650 members/partners and hundreds of suppliers/partners.

We believe that by following our vision, remaining humble, keeping to our values and setting the standard through hard work, we will in the future
 announce far-reaching, complementary products and services all focused on achieving a full service (360 deg) turnkey offering and providing cross industry problem solving solutions… becoming THE PARTNER OF CHOICE for exponential growth within the markets and communities we operate within.

We commit ourselves to:

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  • Always acting in the best interest of the organisation and member
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