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Love in the hardware aisle

Sanet, who originally hails from Kempton Park, says it was a bit of a love/hate relationship in the beginning. “We both worked at BUCO, and Francois’s attitude was very much one of ‘what does a girl know about hardware?’ We were always bumping heads. When we did our first stock
take together, he told me that if I counted correctly, he’ll buy me a drink,” she laughs.

Regional merchandise manager Sanet started at BUCO in June 2000, while Francois, BUCO Nelspruit’s branch manager, started at what was then Laeveld Bouhandelaars in 1999. The couple’s first date was meant to be to watch a movie, but when Francois met Sanet’s parents, they hit it off, so much so that they ended up having a braai and watching the rugby on TV. “That was 23 years ago,” Sanet smiles.

Chene, Sanet, Francois and Nadia

While working with your spouse has its ups and downs, the Nels have never let it interfere with their work ethic. Sanet explains that they have always kept it professional. “There are still people who don’t even know we are married,” she says. “There was a period of around ten years when Francois worked in White River, but we have been back under the same roof for over a year now. We just stay out of each other’s hair. We support and help each other as we would any other colleague. And the minute we get home in the afternoon, we close the door on work. Our children forbid us to talk shop at home.”

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The couple have two daughters, Chene (19) and Nadia (17). Both girls understand and respect the BUCO philosophy, and the passion that their parents have for their work and each other. “Marriage means having a partner who loves, supports, respects, trusts and accepts you for the person you are, without wanting to change you,” Sanet says. “After all, you fall in love with a person the way they are and not how you want them to be. You should have fun and enjoy everything together, and it is even greater to
share the fun and laughter with your kids. It’s like friendship with benefits,” she laughs.

While it is important for the couple to have the occasional men’s or girls’ weekends or evenings apart, the Nels say they are lucky, because they complete each other naturally. “There are no set roles. We help and assist each other without asking, and when one of us is busy, the other one will take over the responsibilities,” Sanet says. “The girls also know they can ask either one of us to do anything. Francois is the husband and father who really can do anything. His faith and love for God shows in the way he respects and loves his family. I admire him for putting us first, with everything … Even when he is busy with something, he will always leave everything to attend to our needs. He evens carries a few bobby pins and elastics in his wallet, because he knows we are always looking for one. He is our hero and deserves a medal, keeping up with all the girls in the house!”

The family love their life in the Lowveld, and staying on a smallholding outside of town means that even when at home, they feel as if they it are on holiday. “We love the Kruger Park,” Sanet adds, “and whenever we need to travel, we try to make the Kruger part of our journey back. We will visit all the camps on the way, jump in the pools and then drive on! A braai outside under the Lowveld stars on a mountain with friends is our favourite thing to do.”

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