Super Tyres was started 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 began in 1968, when Bob Horn was living in Pietermaritzburg, earning R48 per week as a butcher. He was always in debt which didn’t bother him 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 and to take his weekly earnings to pay back his debts. This ended up being a lengthly process as Bob had racked up about R20 000 of debt.
Our First Store (Above)
Bob was determined to settle his debts as quickly as possible and was eager to take Jos out to the drive-in. Having recently put new tyres on his car, he 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. Whilst 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 him time to collect and sell old tyres. Bob spent his afternoons driving up and down the N2, making some extra cash by cleaning and tidying up car yards and workshops of various businesses. Whilst there, he offered to remove all the old scrap tyres at no charge. Bob sold them on to a local retreading garage and on the first afternoon he made R2 for cleaning the car yards and R18 from selling on the scrap tyres. After 18 months all of his 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 realised that this small type of individual endeavor did not provide security. 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. Lots of hard work and elbow grease made a big difference to the filthy floors and walls, and a coat of paint created a far more 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 trips 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. Despite having only R435 in their bank account, 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 with their first month’s rent due on the 1st of January 1972.
Bob’s confidence in the future of the business paid off and sales began to steadily grow, resulting in Bill rejoining 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) asked 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. The Super Tyres growth continued and in 1977 a further branch opened at 694 Umgeni Road.
Bob and Jos outside their West Street store (Above)
Over the next few decades the business continued to grow and develop into a well-known name in the industry. Sadly Jos passed away in August 2006.
Bob’s son, Dean, joined the business over twenty years ago as a dispatching clerk and worked his way up through different administrative, operations and sales roles before taking over the reins of the family business in 2011.
50 years later and with the company now in the capable hands of the next generation, they remain committed to ensuring Bob’s legacy and the company’s core values of integrity and trust remain a constant part of the Super Tyres DNA!
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 13 Employees have been presented with Special Edition engraved watches for 25 years of dedicated service! Our longest-serving Employee at this stage is our Bookkeeper, Florence Pillay who joined us in 1995!