Building a Business from Scratch: The Journey of National Adhesive’s Founder and CEO, Dean van Zyl

Jason Malki
Published in
3 min readMar 24


I had the pleasure of interviewing Dean van Zyl, founder and CEO of National Adhesive, who specializes in selling sealants, tapes, and adhesives currently in the US consumer market. He is an author, speaker, inspiring leader, and motivator. An avid reader, coffee lover and roaster, dirt biker, and car enthusiast from the Kingdom of eSwatini living in North Virginia, USA.

What motivated you to launch your startup?

A little bit of ignorance and a little bit of arrogance while looking at opportunities in the US market. Walking down the aisle of some of the largest hardware retailers in the world, our category of goods is confusing, noisy, and stale, and consumers’ and associates’ education in these categories is very low. Through marketing communication, superior-quality products, and utilizing technology, I felt I could make it easier for the consumer to choose and use the correct products for the job.

What is it that excites you about what you’re building?

My people’s development, the brand’s growth, the accelerated growth, and watching the company’s diverse, exciting, and positive culture grow as it takes on a life of its own, all stem from the foundation we have built through sweat and tears.

What has been your biggest challenge when growing your startup?

Starting a startup up is challenging, starting one in a very well-established old market, with a high barrier to entry, in a new country, in an industry I’m not from, with no network, nor understanding of how the market works, with very little funding. Going from challenge to challenge with limited resources, building the team, infrastructure, and belief in your product, was tough. The single largest challenge, I would say, would have been getting to a point where the systems, customers, staff, and products were all in place and working, and traction was happening, and then having to fund sudden accelerated growth in this current climate and keeping the team focused and motivated, allowing them to focus on their roles, while I ensured we had the necessary tools to move forward.

What are your future plans for your startup?

We have the next 5 years mapped out for national channels and verticals, as well as international growth. Between 5 and 10 years, we believe the business can achieve a billion-dollar status and plan to exit at an agreed point.

If you had to share, “words of wisdom,” with a Founder who’s about to start their own startup, what would they be?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people better than you in the necessary areas. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Persevere and find the solutions there is always one, you are stronger and more creative than you think, and don’t wait for others to believe in you. Know when to stop though.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I can be found on LinkedIn at Dean van Zyl and on Instagram at @deanvanzyl_

Feel free to reach out to me and if you have any questions, I’ll be more than happy to help you.

This was very insightful. Thank you so much for joining us!



Jason Malki

Jason Malki is the Founder & CEO of SuperWarm AI + StrtupBoost, a 30K+ member startup ecosystem + agency that helps across fundraising, marketing, and design.