AS South Africans observe Heritage Month in September, Dunlop, one of the most recognisable tyre brands in the world, is reflecting on its history as the longest serving tyre manufacturer on South African soil.
Eight years after John Boyd Dunlop’s invention of the first practical pneumatic tyre in 1888, the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company (SA) Limited was established in 1896 as the first tyre distribution depot in Cape Town, distributing imported tyres.
Dunlop depots were opened in Johannesburg in 1902 and in Durban in 1916, followed by the first South African Dunlop factory opened in Durban in 1935, manufacturing the first locally produced tyre – a beaded-edge 30cm car tyre.
“It is fitting that in Heritage Month, we contemplate not only our history of firsts in the tyre industry, but also how we can continue to pioneer ground-breaking tyre innovations and accelerate access to Dunlop tyre excellence across Africa,” said Lubin Ozoux, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), which manufactures the Dunlop, Falken and Sumitomo brands for the African continent.
“For me the Dunlop brand and South Africa have a lot in common. Our diverse staff are a unique reflection of our diverse nation, we are also resilient, believe in second chances, we care and are inspired and proud of our achievements and heritage.”
Despite the global turmoil of the last two years, the tyre brand has continued to flourish, dominating in the Tyre Brands Category for the eighth consecutive time in the Ask Afrika Icon Brands Survey 2020/2021.
Dunlop’s Grandtrek Uncharted expedition and marketing campaign also scooped awards in the 2021 IAB Bookmark Awards, taking Bronze for Digital Strategy, Silver for Innovative Use of Media and Craft Silver for Excellence in Strategy. The campaign is a finalist in 11 categories of the Supersonic New Generation Awards, with winners set to be announced on 23 September.
“These are encouraging accolades for our team because consumers continue to show their loyalty and connection to the Dunlop brand. They trust us to keep their families safe on the road and we want them to know that this trust is something we take very seriously,” said Ozoux.
He is optimistic about South Africa and Dunlop’s future, with the brand enjoying significant expansion in South Africa and across Africa. “As a leading premium manufacturer of automotive tyres, we believe that there is still a future for manufacturing and exports from South Africa and that this will be invaluable in driving employment in the country.”
Ozoux said they would continue to focus on research, development and pro-active testing as priorities.
“We thank our employees and stakeholders for a phenomenal 130-plus years and certainly look forward to continuing to be a part of the South African success story from both a business and community perspective, long into the future.”