Laying Dekade Paint’s foundation
Natal Associated Agencies (NAA) started as a partnership in Pietermaritzburg between a Messrs. Murdock and Mitchell on Thursday, November 4 1954. Mitchell took over the business from Murdock a few years later as it was too small to sustain two partners.
At that time, NAA operated as a manufacturer’s representative on an agency basis. Among the companies it represented were Smith & Walton, African Gate & Fence, Firth Brown Tools, Ropes & Matting, Elgin Stainless Steel, and Sealime – good brands then, but not prominent now.
A large part of its turnover came from railway tenders. With Smith & Walton, a UK-based paint maker with a Durban factory, Mitchell saw the potential in developing the paint and lime side of the agency business. Together with Cebestos, which made big sales of limewash paint as its main agency line, they pioneered the first South African water-based PVA wall paint, using Sealime.
After Mitchell died of cancer, his wife, Sheila, took over the ownership of NAA. She later married Bill Pigg and together they ran the business at 91 Commercial Road, Pietermaritzburg.
It was at this time that Gordon Wiles approached Pieter du Plooy to join the newly formed Crown Paint Group, formed from a merger of Smith & Walton, Walpanur (a top UK wallpaper and paint manufacturer, with a factory based in Port Elizabeth), and Cruiser, a house brand sold mainly to mines on the Reef.
Du Plooy spent 3½ years working for Crown as the sales and technical representative for its Pietermaritzburg and Midlands region, operating out of NAA’s premises in Pietermaritzburg.