From Humble Beginnings
Alrite was established in 1946 by brothers Jimmy and Henry Jordan. We produced various products ranging from floor polishers and toasters to the first eye-level oven in South Africa. We even made telephone booths for the post office!
We started lawnmower production in 1966 and produced the first ride-on lawnmower in South Africa. Our range now consists of eight walk – behind and 4 ride-on models. Mirage lawnmowers have always been synonymous with quality and this trend continues today.
In the Family.
Alrite exists today as a third generation company, with the Jordan son’s continuing the legacy of the company . Founding member Jimmy Jordan, retired in 1989 at age 75, but his son James and grandson Alan continue to manage the company today.
Alrite Engineering was established in 1946 by my father and his brother Henry. The company manufactured numerous products for the S.A. railways, mines, the telecommunications industry and also produced various household appliances. I began my apprenticeship with Alrite in January 1966, fresh out of school. In those days we worked a 48 hour week and I was treated the same as any other employee and not as the boss’s son. 1966 was the year the Mirage name came into being. South Africa had just added the Mirage jet fighter to their Air force and so the name seemed appropriate.
Our entry into the lawnmower market was with the now famous Mirage 27 ride-on lawnmower which we continued to build for almost 30 years. Other machines such as the P63 and P60 followed thereafter. We decided to enter the domestic lawnmower market in 1985 with our eye on supplying the specialist lawnmower dealers. The Mirage D46 was then produced and later the UT46 was introduced. 1990 was another important year in the history of the company when we acquired the Emak and Castlegarden range of products from Italy. Both companies have grown immensely and Castlegarden went on to become the biggest manufacturer of lawnmowers in Europe.
1995 was a proud year for my father and I when my son Alan, after 5 years of studying, joined the company. He later took over as managing director in 2002. thereby adding another generation to our company.
It was once said that “no man is an island”. Anyone, no matter where they are from , will realize that they are part of something bigger than themselves. They have some kind of history whether it’s a family, culture or a country. In South Africa we have a term “Ubuntu” which I feel epitomizes this concept. Growing up I always knew that my father, his father and his extended family where involved in the family business. Alrite Engineering was more than just a place they worked. It had a history which one day I would be a part of.
The idea of a place where raw materials such as steel and aluminium were transformed into exciting and wonderfully finished products was something every young boy could appreciate. Alrite is a legacy that I, my family and staff continue to uphold even today. In a society that tends to discard anything old it is wonderful for us to celebrate Alrite’s 60th anniversary. It says a lot for the staying power of all who have and still work there that the company has reached this milestone.
We all have a responsibility to see that it continues. In an ever-changing world and business environment we must continue to adapt to the needs of the country, our customers and their customers. A wise man once said “Change is certain”.
We need to look at our production facilities with a close eye on cheaper products that are produced in the East but at the same time producing products that are innovative and uniquely required in our market. The opportunity to import just about any well priced product from anywhere in the world exists, but we have always proven successful in selecting only the best quality products to sell and remaining loyal to our suppliers that support us. We look ahead to exciting times in the next chapter of our company, but always with an eye on the