Arriving in the Lowveld over 40 years ago, and successfully opening his first Mopani Pharmacy on March 24, 1982, Rob Gibbs has dedicated his life to growing this retail pharmacy brand in the Lowveld to what it is today – a local business with a 39-year footprint, expanding over five stores and serving both the Lowveld and its neighbouring regions.

Rob Gibbs

During his time at Mopani Pharmacy, Rob developed an understanding of the unique business environment in the Lowveld, and how to best capitalise on this to develop and grow a strong, local business.

When it comes to operating a successful business in the Lowveld, his invaluable knowledge and experience has been generously passed on to those who have needed it over the years. His passion for helping people excel has meant that he has always made himself
available for a cup of coffee and a motivating chat – ranging from his own team, to friends and other business owners and entrepreneurs in the Lowveld.

One of the core values of Mopani Pharmacy is having a “heart for the community”, and this truly stems from Rob himself. For him, business has always been about the people: from the team who worked for him, to every customer that chooses to shop at Mopani Pharmacy, and the broader community in which Mopani operates.

Rob ensured that Mopani Pharmacy subscribed to a Christian ethos, which determined the company’s values and ethics. “Our ethos is derived from our belief that our standing before God is one of grace, meaning we live on His undeserved favour,” Rob says. “This belief impacts on all of our lives together and translates into an attitude of humility and thankfulness and a desire to honour and treat others as we want to be treated.” This standing influenced both his and his team’s leadership style and all their business practices,
and has provided the framework in which everyone lives and works together. It has formed his approach to business and to the core values of the company.

This “heart for the community” sentiment is why Mopani has always been involved in supporting local schools, community projects and NGO events. “The community supports  us,” Rob explains, “so therefore we need to give back to them as well”. Apart from Mopani
Pharmacy being supporters of many local charities, Rob, in his personal capacity, has also always been an advocate for those less fortunate and has devoted many of his own hours
to various causes.

With such a big heart, it is only natural that Rob’s family plays an important role in his life. His three children were all schooled here in the Lowveld. His youngest daughter, Sarah-Anne, is following in his footsteps, and can be seen dispensing meds at the Mopani
Pharmacy at Crossing Centre.

His wife, Lanese, is just as passionate about the Lowveld and spends many hours on causes close to her heart. Together, they share the privilege of being grandparents to Tom, Grace and Mila – a role that they have embraced, love and cherish.

And if his family and work are not enough to keep him busy, Rob has always maintained a healthy, active lifestyle as well. Over the years he has participated in his fair share of
Comrades Marathons, amongst other running events. But his activity of choice these days is mountain biking, and he is often seen riding along the Halls orchards, accompanied by either Lanese, his son-in-law Jonathan, or his friends.

After serving 40 years in the retail industry, Rob has recently retired from Mopani Pharmacy, and with his extensive travels across the world and his working career that has seen him manage teams in retail, HR, marketing and finance, Rob has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

And true to Rob’s heart and passion, this change has provided him with the opportunity to establish and drive the newly founded Buy Local Lowveld initiative. The core focus of this movement is to identify and grow local business in the Lowveld, and to encourage the community to support locally owned and operated businesses by choosing to shop at these establishments. It is his hope that through this movement, we can all work together to grow the Lowveld into a flourishing region for everyone’s benefit.

Rob and his Buy Local team

“It is local business that teaches new skills and passes these on for future generations, fosters an entrepreneurial spirit, gives back to the community through supporting schools, charities, churches and such, and creates both opportunities and employment for our Lowveld community,” Rob smiles. “By keeping the money spent at local businesses in the Lowveld, we allow the money to be kept within the local economy, meaning that more
local businesses and families have the opportunity to benefit.”

It is this principle and mindset that Rob would like every Lowvelder to adopt. It is only if we all work together that we can we make the change that is needed for the Lowveld to thrive.

So as Rob leaves his mark on the retail industry and all those he has mentored over the years, and as he embarks on this new venture of doing his part to support and grow our local economy, the Lowveld has an exciting and much-needed development to look forward to as the Buy Local Lowveld initiative grows and leads the way.

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