It has been 75 years of existence for the company that owns the only putty to have ever reached the moon, and many more milestones thereafter. Pratley, a family-owned business has grown from strength to strength over the three quarters of a century that it has been operational.
Well known for its leading adhesive range that has been widely used across various industries, the company not only prides itself on this range, but has expanded into the minerals as well as the electrical sectors. With all three divisions of its business doing well, it was befitting that the company commemorated the milestone in a celebratory manner where it shared the joys of success with its hard-working staff in a day filled with happiness, fun, games and a lot of cake.
Pratley CEO Andrew Pratley says that it is a remarkable and proud moment for the company, especially for a privately-owned family business. “We are now well into the third generation at the helm. There are few companies worldwide that make this milestone.”
He attributes the longevity of the company to its diverse and extensive product range being unlike anything else on the global market, coupled with a reputation of producing high- quality, reliable products. “I think people identify the brand as an iconic South African name. Also, with having the only South African manufactured product to have gone to the Moon, there certainly is an element of pride.”
The policies underpinning the company have stood it in good stead during tough times. Remarkably, it has no debt, a diverse product offering and is extremely self-reliant. “Our motto is simple, if we do not have the money for it, we do not do it. This has helped us stay debt-free over the past 75 years,” he points out.
Much of Pratley’s production is undertaken in-house, including research and development (R&D), marketing, logistics, packaging design and production and even raw material production. Lastly,
it maintains a 95% ex-store service level, which is measured frequently. “This kind of service level is usually only found in industries such as aerospace,” he remarks.
Commenting on the current economic landscape, Pratley notes that, while the last two years following the Covid-19 pandemic stabilised somewhat for South African businesses, that stability has been halted by the prevailing global economic conditions. “The world goes through these economic ups and downs and that will always be a certainty. Things do recover eventually.”
To commemorate 75 years in the business, the company has launched two new electrical products while some exciting new additions to its adhesive range are also in the pipeline. At least one of these will be another world-first. Andrew points out that R&D is and will continue to be a cornerstone of Pratley. “We are committed to R&D, and we see our future and growth in continuing a long line of new products.” The company invests heavily in R&D, both financially and from a human resource perspective. Its recent launch of an internationally approved and highly innovative flameproof cable gland range for explosive atmospheres is a testament to that.
Another growth area is the global export market, especially in Africa.
With the rest of the world facing challenges, the continent offers exciting growth opportunities for Pratley’s electrical and adhesive ranges. “For example, the latter offers innovation and reliability that many of these markets have not experienced before. Hence our adhesive range is ideally suited to emerging markets where DIY and automotive repair are common.”
As for Pratley’s 75th-anniversary celebrations this year, Andrew says the company’s highly competent and hardworking staff contingent deserves to celebrate this milestone. “Without good people, companies do not make it to 75 years. It is humbling to highlight that many employees began their careers at Pratley in their early 20s and have retired successfully. It is also a testament to our high staff retention. We are just one big Pratley family.”
He adds that, after 75 years, a lot of customers remain steadfast friends of the company and its staff. “Some have been with us for more than 40 years. We thank them for their years of loyalty and for ‘sticking’ with us. We will continue our relationships into the future by providing our customers with innovative and reliable solutions to their problems – and in accordance with our policy statement, solutions that outperform all others.”
As part of its celebrations, Prately hosted members of the media at its premises to commemorate the milestone. A day that began with breakfast on its unique guest train turned into a dining area, followed by
a visit to the training centre where Andrew Pratley spoke to the media, explaining how the company reached the milestone. While discussing various aspects of the three divisions, he also showcased a few products to illustrate the strength, reliability, and quality of the company’s mineral products.
The tour then proceeded to the R&D department where various tests for strength and durability were taking place. A walk through the laboratory was the next stop, where the all the chemicals that go into the company’s adhesive products are tested and created. A few demonstrations by Andrew Pratley were done on some of Pratley’s reputable products, which left the members of the media impressed and amazed by the strength of the adhesives.
Without good people, companies do not make it to 75 years. Pratley is just one big family.