As South Africans observe Heritage Month in September, Dunlop, one of the most iconic and recognisable tyre brands in the world, is reflecting on its history as the country’s oldest tyre brand and 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. This laid the foundation for the brand’s legacy of quality and reliability that has gone on to stand the test of time. 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 30 cm 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,” says 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,” he says.
“Because Dunlop represents and understands South Africa, we want to continue to reflect that in the quality and safety of our tyres and the peace of mind we give our users. We’ve done this over the last 130+ years and we’re now focused on navigating the complexities of the current period to ensure sustainability and longevity well into the future,” adds Ozoux.
Despite the global turmoil of the last two years, the iconic tyre brand has continued to excel, dominating in the Tyre Brands Category for the eighth consecutive time in the Ask Afrika Icon Brands Survey 2020/2021.
Dunlop’s powerful 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 also 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,” says Ozoux.
Ozoux says he is optimistic about South Africa and Dunlop’s future, with the brand enjoying exponential 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,” he says.
Dunlop remains committed to delivering the newest, most ground-breaking tyre innovations for the country.
Says Ozoux, “To ensure enhanced performance, safety, and longevity of the Dunlop tyre brand into the future, we will continue to focus on research, development and pro-active testing as priorities, supported by our commitment to innovation, people, safety and quality throughout the development of our tyres, during and post manufacturing.”
“We thank our employees and stakeholders for a phenomenal 130+ 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,” he adds.