Progrow Cocopeat is headed by the husband and wife team of Gerhard and Toni-Lee van Niekerk together with their long-time friend and business partner Reitz Krige. Both Gerhard and Toni-Lee have been actively involved within the coconut industry since mid-2006. Reitz has been assisting them in their cocopeat ventures on a part-time basis since early 2010 and joined Progrow Cocopeat on a full-time basis as of November 2012.
Gerhard van Niekerk has co-founded of a number of coconut related businesses. In 2006, together with the state owned petroleum company of Mozambique (Petromoc), he commenced with the development of an industrial scale biodiesel refinery that produced biodiesel from coconut oil. This refinery is still operational and was bought outright by the Mozambican government in 2009.
In 2007, Gerhard shifted his attention to the production of cocopeat and coir products. By June 2008 he had developed and built a large cocopeat and fibre production facility. By mid-2009 this factory was bought by a multi-national company. Gerhard, however, remained directly involved in the development and production of various cocopeat products – focusing specifically on increasing the air content (or Air Filled Porosity) of various cocopeat based growing mediums.
Since 2008, Gerhard has concentrated solely on the production and development of cocopeat based growing mediums. He has travelled and worked in various cocopeat producing countries such as Sri-Lank, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Toni-Lee van Niekerk has been the administrative and logistical anchor in all of their business ventures since 2007. She has extensive experience in logistical, administrative and workforce management. Up until early 2012, Toni-Lee was overseeing a production workforce of nearly 150 full-time staff members and almost half a dozen contractors.
Gerhard and Toni-Lee moved back to South Africa in April 2012 in order to establish a large scale cocopeat distribution network in Southern Africa
Reitz Krige started his career as an attorney at law in 2006, after studying law at Stellenbosch University and completing his law articles. In early 2010 he left a successful law practise in Somerset West to start a chicken egg laying farm in Mozambique together with Gerhard and Toni-Lee.
The farm was situated adjacent to the cocopeat and fibre production facility Gerhard developed. This is where Reitz first came into contact with cocopeat and gained some invaluable experience in observing and assisting with the cocopeat production process.
In November 2012 Reitz sold the farm and returned to South Africa to join Progrow Cocopeat on a full-time basis.
Progrow Cocopeat is a division of Progrow Products (Pty) Ltd. Progrow Products (Pty) Ltd also has a Solar Division – Progrow Solar.