November 01, 2023 4 min read



What is now ACA Threads, was started by Herbert Marshing as an import agency in 1953. By 1971 this had evolved into an industrial sewing thread manufacturing company, with a new custom-built factory, which is still proudly standing and operating, in Brackenfell, Cape Town, South Africa. In 1989, Herbert Marshing retired and his son, Eckhard, took over the management of the company.

The company is celebrating its 70th anniversary, with Eckhard at the helm for 34 of those years and we thought it was the perfect occasion to sit down with him and ask him some questions and share them with you.

Eckhard, what were you doing before you took over the company from your father?

I studied in Switzerland and thereafter gained working experience in the threads industry in Germany and Spain with the German company Amann Group, one of the leading global sewing thread companies.

In the history of ACA what would you recall as particularly memorable?

The recent years have been particularly memorable because of the severe challenges that we faced, first being the company shutdown during Covid, thereafter a major fire in our dyehouse and then dealing with the impact of the Natal riots and floods. We were able to navigate the business successfully through these events, which bears testimony to the resilience of the company, the ability of our people to rise to the occasion and the support we enjoy from our customers, suppliers and service providers.

What challenges have been encountered that have turned into successes?

Two major challenges have been the water crisis in the Western Cape and Eskom loadshedding, both of which are serious threats to our business. We have addressed these challenges by investing into boreholes and a water purification plant, as well as into solar electricity generation and battery storage. Both investments have been a success. They give us much needed independence from external risks. And they fit in well with our company’s sustainability journey.

What are you most proud of at ACA?

We can look back at our journey, in particular the last 30 years, and be proud that the company has continued to grow and prosper in what has been a very challenging industry. 70 years down the line we are not just surviving. We have a business that is well equipped for the future and we can be proud of that.

You view your employees, and putting the right people in the right positions, as vital to the success of the business. Could you share why this is so important to you?

I have realised from past shortcomings that ambitious company goals can only be achieved if you have the right people in the right places and have them pulling together as a team in the same direction. That’s why focussing on people leadership skills is so important to me today.

Many of our employees have worked here for many years, and 10, 15, 20 and as many of 35 years of service are celebrated yearly. What do you think drives that kind of loyalty from your employees?

I would like to believe that we have a company culture carried by a strong value system that our long-serving staff members can identify with and feel “at home” with. Whilst there is a lot of diversity amongst our people, there is also a lot of common ground which holds us together.

Consistency in everything that we do and manufacture here at ACA Threads is one of our core values. Would you explain why you believe that this essential to the success of any business and personal individual?

Consistency creates reliability and trust. That’s what I expect from our suppliers and believe what our customers should expect from us. It is fundamental to an enduring relationship, not just in business, but also in your personal life. Add integrity and transparency to that and you’ve got a good formula.

We have strong, long-standing alliances with our overseas partners AMANN, MADEIRA, and American & Efird. How does this strengthen our position as one of the leading sewing and embroidery thread suppliers in Southern Africa?

Having close relationships to leading global thread companies provides us with invaluable access to know-how, technology, industry knowledge, supplier networks etc. It enables us to draw from their expertise and offer our customers the best possible solutions.

You are constantly working towards moving ACA Threads forward strategically. What is your vision for the future of ACA Threads and the role it plays to our customers?

It is our vision to be a solution provider instead of merely a product supplier. Key in this process is the growth in knowledge and skills of our people and sharing this with our customers. We see this as our contribution towards skills development in our industry.

In closing, is there anything we’ve not covered that you would like to share? Is there anyone that you would like to thank?

We are in a tough industry and difficult market; however, I continue to enjoy what I do. I would like to thank the people – our staff, our customers, suppliers and service providers. It is the many really nice people that we interact with that give a lot of pleasure and make it so worthwhile.