Super Tyres was launched by a dedicated husband and wife team and has become a well-respected business in the tyre industry. This success stemmed from two people who created a multi-million Rand enterprise from precarious financial beginnings. The remarkable story begins in 1968, when Bob was living in Pietermaritzburg and earning R48 per week as a butcher. He was always in debt, but that didn’t matter until he met a young university student, Jos, who he wanted to impress. It wasn’t long before she discovered the hopeless mess his finances were in and called a halt to the chocolates, flowers and outings. She was determined to help sort out his debt, and called on a lawyer friend to write to all the people he owed money to, and take his weekly earnings to pay back the debts. This was going to be a long process, as Bob had racked up about R20 000 of debt.
Our First Store (Above)
One day, Bob was determined to take Jos out to the Drive-in. He had recently put new tyres on his car, and remembered that the old set was in the boot. He returned to the tyre shop where he had purchased the new tyres, and asked if they would buy his old ones. Being in relatively good condition, he sold them for R2. While at the Drive-in later that night, the idea of selling tyre casings in his spare time to pay off his outstanding debts was born. His regular job as a butcher finished at 2pm every day, which allowed time to collect and sell the old tyres. Bob spent his afternoons driving up and down the N2, making some extra cash by cleaning and tidying up the car yards and workshops of various businesses. Whilst there, he offered to remove all the old scrap tyres at no charge. These tyres are where he made the real money, by selling them on to a local retreading garage. On the first afternoon he made R2 for cleaning the car yards, and R18 from selling on the scrap tyres; and after 18 months all debts were settled. Bob became so enthusiastic about his success that he resigned from the butchery and carried on selling tyre casings on a full-time basis. By July 1970, he and Jos could afford to get married!
Although they continued to make a reasonable living from tyre sales, they realized that this small type of individual endeavor did not provide security. So they decided to launch a tyre shop and persuaded Bob’s brother Bill to join them. The three entrepreneurs invested every cent they could scratch together into renting a dirty, offbeat premises in Leopold Street. Some hard work and elbow grease made a big difference to the filthy floors and walls, and a coat of paint created a reasonably respectable appearance.
Opening Day - Invoice Book (Above)
The first 3 retread tyres were sold on the 27th January 1971, and although sales increased to 157 in May, 174 in July and 285 in November, the income was not sufficient for two families to live on. Competitors and skeptics in the tyre industry scoffed at the enterprise and forecast that it would not survive longer than six months. Bill decided to return to his old job, leaving Bob and Jos to soldier on.
Bob continued to make regular sales excursions around Natal in order to pay the rent, but it soon became clear that the main reason for the lack of business was the location of the shop. A move had to be made to one of the main streets, where the public would notice the shop. While driving up West Street one afternoon, Bob spotted a conspicuous “TO LET” sign on the door of No 157. There was only R435 in their bank account, and monthly rentals in this part of town were high. Despite this, Bob visited the agent and to Jos’s horror, signed a five-year lease for a rental at the astronomical sum of R850 a month. The shock was lessened when he advised that they could move in on the 22nd December 1971, and the rental would not be payable until 1st January 1972.
Happily, Bob’s confidence in the future of the business paid off. Sales began to accrue before the end of the year and Bill rejoined the company a year later. In August 1973, the Sylvester Ntuli Road branch was opened with Bill as manager. Initially, the turnover didn’t reveal much improvement. Bob will never forget the day when takings consisted of only R90. Luckily, the West Street branch was doing well and was able to keep the new shop’s wheels turning.
By Christmas 1973, business had improved to such an extent that Jos (as financial director) was obliged to ask her sister-in-law, Marge Lahana, to join the company to assist her. A year later, another branch was opened in Anton Lembede Street and Marge’s husband Mitty was persuaded to join the team. In 1977, another branch opened at 694 Umgeni Road, and so had the growth of Super Tyres begun.
Bob and Jos outside their West Street store (Above)
Over the next two decades, the business grew and developed, and became a well known name in the industry. Bob’s son Dean joined the team in 1997 and has proven himself as Sales Director. Sadly, Jocelyn passed away in August 2006. Bob’s eldest daughter Tracey has since taken on the role of Financial Director. Although the company is now in the capable hands of the next generation, Bob can still be found at his desk every day (including Saturdays), making sure that his legacy is still managed according to the same values of trust and quality that it was built on some 40 years ago
We are constantly having awards ceremonies whereby staff are presented with Long Service awards. A braai with their colleagues is held in their honour. Over the last few years no fewer than 12 Employees have been presented with Special Edition engraved watches for 25 years dedicated service! Our longest serving Employee at this stage is Gonnie Naidoo, who started with us way back in 1984!