From humble beginnings in 1950, it was a dream come true for a master craftsman, the late Mr. D A Khan, overcoming many an obstacle that lay before him. A brief reference to this brilliant man is made in a newspaper article (1970) attached hereto.
Whilst holding a full-time job as a woodcarving artist, Mr. Khan worked into the early hours of the morning, in his home workshop in Durban. This was solely for the purpose of supplementing his income, to improve the quality of life of his large family. He hand carved components for the furniture industry and made patterns and moulds for the metal and textile industries. Assisted by his sons whom he had personally trained, this tiny home industry grew into a little factory. Mr. Khan then quit his full-time job to concentrate on the business, which was relocated to a prefabricated building on the Natal North Coast.
Farm labourers who assisted in the building were eventually hired in the factory and were trained in the art of woodcarving, woodturning and cabinet making by the craftsman himself. Some of these employees are still with the company today, some 30 years later.
After completing secondary school, two of his sons, due to financial constraints, had no alternative but to join the business. Upon the demise of Mr. D A Khan in 1977, one of his sons, L A Khan (L.A.K.), took over as MD and has held this position since. During this time the company had a total staff compliment of about 20. In order to maximise profits, L.A.K. not only worked a 16 hour day seven days a week, but also acted as salesman, designer, costing clerk and telephonist.
Y A Khan, who was responsible for the highly skilled operations in the factory, also made tremendous sacrifices. Aside from the long working hours in the factory, he also assisted in all the long distance driving, repairs and maintenance of machinery, and anything and everything that had to be done. In 1992, the third son, S A Khan joined the business after studying architecture.
Artistic had become a major force in the industry, and L.A.K. remains confident and optimistic of the company's future in the changing South Africa.
With the present infrastructure and the recent investment in high tech equipment, there is scope to increase production by 100% simply by increasing the labour force. The company uses a well-balanced mix of highly modernised plant and machinery with the age-old art of Cabinet Making. Management feels very strongly that the art of Cabinet making should always remain in the world of modern fully automated machinery.
Over and above the formal training received by the Furniture Industry Training Board, the company puts a lot of emphasis on in-house training. Skills of the old school are constantly adapted to suit modern technological advancement and passed on to fellow staff members, by management who have been exposed to the best of both worlds.
Upgrading and Promotions
It is company policy to always promote staff from within, which has contributed tremendously to the motivation of its staff. Our artisans, supervisors and managers, who all started out as ordinary general labourers, would today rate amongst the best in the industry. The company is proud to say that since its inception, a few of the trainees from the "Artistic School of manufacturing" are now running their own successful businesses.
In 1992 the company established a totally non-contributory Group Life and Provident fund for all employees. Interest-free housing loans have also been made available to some staff members.
Import and Export Statement
All exotic hardwoods are imported, as none of the species are locally available. By importing directly, Artistic has managed to become very competitive in the market place. White Oak, Cherry, Beech and Maple are imported from America. Although Artistic is continually searching for local content, some hardware items such as drawer slides and locking systems are also imported, as the local substitutes do not meet the high-quality standards set by Artistic.
Export of office furniture is mainly to sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia.
During the past 8 years, Artistic Woodcarvers & Turners have played an active role in the upliftment of the under privileged communities. Regular donations of cash, furniture, machinery etc., have been made to various charitable, educational and religious institutions as listed hereunder.
Amanzimtoti SPCA - Office Furniture
Aryan Benevolent Home Council - Regular cash donations and occasionally food and refreshments
Boys Town - Monthly Debit Order
Brettonwood Old Boys Sports and Social Club - Donation for sports kit
Crisis Welfare Organisation - Christmas hampers, monthly assistance to poor
Chatsworth Regional Hospice Association - Donation of all seating requirements
Crescent Girls High School - Classrooms, Laboratory, Sewing Room, Kitchen Furniture
Dawah College International - Monthly Debit Order
Durban Fire and Emergency Department - Sponsorship of World Fire Fighters Game 2000, France
Friends of the Poor - Hampers, Clothing
Hamlet School for the Mentally Disabled - Total furniture requirements for offices, conference and dining areas
Phakamisa Izinga Development Association - Woodworking machine
Pietermaritzburg Muslim School for Girls - Donation of 200 school desks and chairs
Tongaat Islamic School - Various Donations
The directors of Artistic have also formed "Friends of the Poor", an in-house organisation to render assistance to the poorest of the poor. Artistic distributes monthly grocery hampers, blankets, paraffin, cooking stoves, candles, cash & clothing, directly from its factory premises. "Friends of the Poor" does not encourage handouts, but rather offers casual work within the factory premises. During the past year, employment has been given to more than 70 men and women who had no income at all. For the year 2012, Artistic hopes to help at least 10000 families.