A Trip Down Memory Lane…When South Africa Had The Biggest Blanket Manufacturer in the World

I’ve been watching Peaky Blinders so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and I wanted to share with you something from the archives: what was once the biggest blanket manufacturer in the world right here in South Africa: the 1.4 million m² floor space, 30000+ personnel Frame Group who at the time was built up over five decades (1928-1978).

Enjoy, no politics today. You will never see such scale again in manufacturing in SA, NEVER EVER!!! This is what vertical integration at scale looks like.

Training

Canteen

A lot of big companies had canteens at the time which made food for workers before the practice came to Silicon Valley.

On-premises savings “office” and sports teams.

It was not uncommon for large companies to have their own soccer teams at the time. The German Bundesliga teams VfL Wolfsburg was the Volkswagen workers sports club and Bayer Leverkusen was formed by the employees of the German pharmaceutical company Bayer (which makes Berocca and Supradyn and lots of other stuff).

Health & Safety

Frame had their own “Fire Station” which was to respond to factory emergencies and to service the numerous fire extinguishers that were required. The company had on-premises sickbays with nurses and doctors.

Technology

Check out that computer in the 50’s

Housing & Accommodation

If you’ve reached here and thinking oh ok, this is similar to what Chinese companies look like these days, I want to point out to you that China only started industrializing from the 1950’s, in 1953 Chairman Mao introduced a  ‘Five Year Plan’ and rapid industrialization followed. Most Chinese companies that currently use this format didn’t even exist yet.


What 1 400 000m²  of floor space looks like

The last two bottom pics is one vast facility

What was inside those buildings

What they made

Prudent Financial Management

No talk of buying overpriced Golf GTI’s whose R30 000 headlights can easily be removed by hand.

Did I say no politics? Haha I lie! You know I will never pass up an opportunity to knock the people who have destroyed our country.

This comes from my research into the local textile industry (I have interests in the fashion business), it is from the 50th anniversary of the Frame Group, the Frame saga is an interesting tale filled with comical ironies; Phillip Frame with support from the National Party grew the group to over 30000 employees, the communist trade unionists that represented their workers then eventually joined the bourgeois, took over its successor Seardel and ran it into the ground causing massive job losses among the proletariat  AND BLAMED THE ANC. You can’t make this shit up!!! Read the transcript below

Lots of lessons to be learnt here but mainly: BEE gravy train drivers can’t run real companies outside of zero value addition “empowerment” sweet deals (but we already know that) and if you depend on the government to help you then you fucked.