established in 1890
The well-known country family concern Aug Behrens (Pty) Ltd.was founded in 1889 by the German immigrant August Behrens. The then well known Pretoria businessman, T.W.Beckett, advised the young German pioneer to start a business at the Bethanie Missionary Station, near Brits, where his uncle was the Missionary for the Herrmannsburg Missionary Society.
In the beginning Mr.Beckett supplied stock, on account, and supported the young pioneer with his valuable advice. Business was first conducted in an old house. In the year 1890 just 75 years ago the first building for the firm Aug Behrens was erected at Bethanie. The business prospered and when the Anglo-Boer War started in 1899, it had already become an established business.
The period immediately after the Boer War had ended, proved difficult, but gradually the business grew from strength to strength, and in1904, two branches were established, one at Makolokwe and one at Berseba in the so-called "Native areas". The Kroondal branch of the business was founded at Kroondal in 1906, and was conducted in a building on the property of Mr. Backeberg adjacent to the old Post Office building. This business was taken over in 1906 by August Behrens senior.
Across the road, on land belonging to a Mr. H. Lange, was another shop,
consisting of an enormous corrugated-iron building, belonging to Messrs,
Rattenberg and Cohen. In 1908 they ceased operations and the Aug.Behrens
business was transferred to that site. For more than 20 years, this
building served as the shopping centre for Kroondal.
In 1916;the second son, August, uncle Gussi, as Heiny is generally referred to by those who know him, became the manager of the Kroondal business. August soon proved he was a progressive businessman and prized his reputation for square dealing, and the business continued to flourish under his management.
In 1930 he moved to a bigger and more modern building which was erected on August's own site, and in which the business has been conducted, until 1965. At first, this building appeared too large, and there was insufficient stock to cover the shelves, but the turnover steadily increased, and yet again the available space proved inadequate. Floorspace just had to be found.
This time, Uncle Gussi had also started a trading store, at thePlatinum Mine, which was later disposed of to Messrs. Wolpe & Mendelsohn. After World War ll August also founded the Kroondal Houthandelaars, later transferred to Rustenburg, and subsequently disposed of.
In 1950, the third generation Behrens, Hugo, took over the reigns of management and the business enjoyed further development and growth. Further additions to the premises just had to be elected, and this utilised every available inch of space, but still proved short of requirements. It was decided to again build, which decision has resulted in a new building, modern in every respect, which now stands on the corner of the Pretoria-Road and 'Tiatina-straat". This is the fourth Behrens building at Kroondal that has housed the firm Aug. Behrens. Three have been out-grown. It seemed, at the time, that the new building was far too big but in the light of previous experience, for how long? Mr. Behrens and his staff were confident that a bright future lay ahead for Rustenburg, Kroondal and the surrounding area, and in this belief, they truly laid their plans well.
The building is a fine expression of their faith in the future. The
complex comprises a massive steel construction, with large, well-planned
windows not display windows in the usual sense of the word because the
entire business operates with all stocks displayed. Only a minimum of
interior partition walls are utilised, so that a most striking impression
is conveyed of the vast interior. Goods are displayed on low cabinets,
and the trade is conducted on a self-service, and "semi self-service''
basis. The function of the business, in the new building, will be directed
to cater for the needs of the entire family, whilst maintaining the
true characteristics of a country store.
|© Aug Behrens (Pty) Ltd|
|Design & Maintenance: Helga Nordhoff|