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The passing of an industry icon

South African manufacturer Pratley announced with much sadness the passing of Managing Director Kim Pratley on 19 January 2021.

Kim’s father, George ‘Monty’ Pratley, established the company in 1948. During the 1960s, the company invented and produced the world’s first epoxy putty. Initially intended for insulating and affixing terminals to cast iron electrical junction boxes, it was subsequently introduced into the local market as Pratley Plastic Putty, a name that ultimately became Pratley Putty.

The product not only put the company on the world map, but saw it end up on the moon, as the product was used by NASA on the Ranger Moon Module Project in the mid-1960s. This feat ultimately secured the product’s place in the history books. Pratley Putty has since become a household and industrial name, used to repair everything from swimming pool leaks to the hulls of partially sunken ships.

After the passing of Kim’s father in 1983, Kim took over the company at the young age of 27 and further grew Pratley into the iconic South African brand that it is today. The company now produces over 800 products and has filed over 350 patents worldwide.

In 2018, and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the company, Kim and sons Andrew and Charles replicated the 1985 memorable launch of Pratley Wondafix adhesive, which saw all stand underneath a 13-tonne bulldozer, hoisted and held aloft by a Wondafix adhesive joint.

In 2019, the South African Mint celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing with its ‘South African inventions’ series, focusing on Pratley Putty as the only South African product to ever journey to the moon.

“As a company, we mourn the passing of our beloved father, dedicated Managing Director, mentor, friend and colleague. His passing leaves a deep hole in the lives of everyone at Pratley and all those who knew him. He was so many things to so many of us, and as much sadness fills our hearts, we are comforted by the many memories and achievements that he spearheaded during his time as head of Pratley. His legacy will live on through everything we do going forward,” comments Andrew.

The company is now left in the capable hands of Andrew and Charles, who worked alongside their father for many years. With degrees in IT and engineering respectively, both also have extensive knowledge of the company, having worked their way up from grassroots level.

“Even though we are grieving at this time and our sadness is palpable, we are a very resilient company that has been growing from strength to strength over the years. We are a decent and very capable team. We are world leaders in the things that we do and the products that we produce. Going forward, we look to a very bright future for Pratley, with several exciting things in the pipeline. Our fundamental principles, policies, ethics and recipe for success are proven and remain rock solid,” concludes Charles.

Pratley celebrated its 72nd anniversary in 2020.

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