Career with a difference – Innocent Sefolo the chainsaw guru celebrates 42 years

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Innocent on Site

Mention the word chainsaw, and Innocent Sefolo’s heart probably beats just a smidgen faster. That’s because this particular granddad has been employed by Husqvarna in Pietermaritzburg for a mind boggling 42 years – most of which have involved working with the world-renowned brand’s chainsaws.

To say he is passionate about his job is an understatement. “I love what I do,” he says with heartfelt enthusiasm.

Sefolo said the past four decades with Husqvarna have been wonderful. Highlights, said the Imbali father-of three (and granddad of five), include a trip to Husqvarna’s global headquarters in Stockholm, and attending a conference in Munich, Germany.

“But I also love travelling up north, and seeing other parts of Africa, like Zimbabwe and Zambia, and I’ve also been to Swaziland.” More recently he was in Stellenbosch, which he also enjoyed.

Sefolo is the company’s chainsaw guru, and a whiz at training people on how to use Husqvarna’s range of super-efficient machines: think foresters (privateers as well as major forestry companies), and students (Cedara Agricultural College, Stellenbosch University wood science/forestry students), among others. He also sells equipment.

“I started my career repairing chainsaws for a Sandvik franchise, a small family-owned company in Pietermaritzburg, with just the manager, his wife and I, when I was 25. They used to import the equipment from Sweden and I learned to repair and sell the machines. Back then, in 1977, the business was run from a small 50sqm shop.”

The company was bought out by Husqvarna, and Sefolo continued with the new group, becoming more involved in the training and sales of equipment. “But the chainsaws have always been my favourites,” he confessed. He conceded, however, that the chainsaws with which he started his career are now on display in the museum at Husqvarna’s Pietermaritzburg headquarters. “They are very different from what is available today and what I train people on!”

Sefolo is particularly proud to have shown the chainsaw ropes, so to speak, to Roger Jackson, long-serving Husqvarna Business Developer: Forestry.

Said Jackson: “Back in 1980, the company I worked for bought four Husqvarna 480SE chainsaws and Innocent was sent to me to teach me how to maintain and service them. He has an amazing and humble approach in how he communicates with people, and it is impossible not to appreciate what he tries to convey.”

Sefolo’s major assets are his passion for the brand and the product, added Jackson, as well as his unassuming approach to everyone and his incredible ability to converse in several different languages.

“The people who use or maintain our products come from diverse backgrounds, and Innocent has absolutely no problem adapting to whatever situation he finds himself, and excelling.”

He said Sefolo’s loyalty to the brand and dedication to excellent customer support “have helped us retain and build our customer base throughout South Africa and, in some cases, beyond, like in Mozambique and Zimbabwe”.

Although he was due to retire this month, Sefolo is so valuable to the company that they’ve asked him to extend his services. “I’m happy to do that,” he said. “I love my job, and dealing with and meeting different people. I really enjoy the sales and the training, and if I had to retire, I think I would very quickly ‘go upstairs’,” he said with a broad grin, gesturing heavenwards.

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