Time to say goodbye to a gentle giant

Mar 1, 2022 | General

Willie du Toit, General Manager at Tikketai, wholesalers of broccoli and cauliflower all year round, retired after 23 years of service.

Willie du Toit, General Manager at Tikketai, wholesalers of broccoli and cauliflower all year round, retired after 23 years of dedication and hard work. Burger Gericke, CEO states that Willie has been an integral part of our company for these more than two decades.  “During this time, he was instrumental to ensure good standing relationships, efficiency, and cooperation between all partners and role players at Tikketai.  


Willie grew up in the railways as a boy.   He ended up working for Transnet, in the Travelling division.

He started in Cape Town, moved to Bloemfontein, Windhoek, and eventually Johannesburg.  When his division was privatised he decided to take the package and moved to George to get involved in the family butchery.   During this time he also got involved in the building industry and ended up painting the Tikketai building.  One thing led to the other and a job opportunity arose.

On 1 March in 1999, I was appointed at Tikketai as a handyman responsible for maintenance.  Due to hard and committed work, Willie was appointed as General Manager in 2007.

Greatest lesson learned

My first job was to build a low wall to keep the water away from the sink walls and prevent them from rusting.  Every time I look at that wall that is still there, it reminds me that I started at the bottom.  Now, after 15 years as General Manager, I can honestly say that the biggest lesson I have learned is that if one starts right at the bottom you can get to the top if you are prepared to work hard and are committed.

Willie states that his second lesson is the importance of relationships with people you work with. “Workplaces are diverse and one needs to understand the people you work with and recognise the challenges they face in their personal lives”, he explains.

The heartbeat of Tikketai

Willie believes that Tikketai is one of a few employers that value its employees and care for them to the extent that it does.  “At Tikketai everybody is equal and handled alike.  If you work hard and do your part Tikketai will always back you up and support you.  Management at Tikketai has never hesitated to help when help was needed.

From broccoli to woodwork

Willie’s father instilled a love for woodwork.  “My father was extremely skilled and did very fine work.  He made miniature furniture and mini ox wagons as a hobby”, he tells.  This predilection made it easy to take the subject at school where Willie skilled himself.  He has acquired woodwork machinery over the past few months as he is planning to spend some time on carpentry.

He tells, tongue in cheek, that his wife Jeanette has a lot of plans up her sleeve.   One of the first things would probably be for me to join her to do shopping.  Their son lives in George but they also have a daughter who lives in Pretoria.  “We will definitely spend some time visiting them”, he says.

One of their favourite places is Baden, near Montagu, where they love to spend time.  The hot springs with their clear water and the dam that allows him to fish make it a place they continue to return to.

He adds, “I love and enjoy the farm.  I will still stay in touch with the Tikketai business and operations and would love to add value where and when needed”.  He states that one does not part with something you have been part of for 23 years, easily – it is interwoven in your being. 

Sleeping late and drinking coffee in bed, especially in the winter months, is something that he particularly looks forward to.

Things to be dearly missed

“At Tikketai one belongs and is part of an enjoyable working environment.  I will miss the people and the interaction and conversation we had daily,” he tells.  He shares how one of the staff members phoned him on Saturday to ask for his help as their front door was kicked out of its doorframe by evildoers.  He went to help them to fix the door.  With tears in his eyes, he mentions how one of the family members commented that their “dad” came to fix and help them again. “The years of working together made us family.  These employees are like children to me and we care and help each other”, he says.

Burger concludes, “Willie’s contributions will always be valued and remembered.    His hard work, commitment, and dedication are worthy of admiration and he will be greatly missed”.