Selection Cartage was established in 1931 by John van Niekerk, a diamond miner from Kimberley.
Like many of his compatriots, Van Niekerk joined the exodus of miners to the gold reef in early 1930 as the diamond mining industry went into decline in Kimberley.
The Van Niekerk family arrived in Springs in 1930 where John van Niekerk joined Daggafontein Gold Mining Company as a winding engine driver.
As he only worked night shifts, he made good use of his days, sleeping only for a short time and carrying out transportation jobs, such as carting bricks for a local brick company.
The first vehicle he bought was an old sleeve valve Willys Knight car once belonging to Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, which he converted himself into a platform lorry. This proved to be a great success, and within a few months, he was able to purchase a Dodge three-tonner.
Moving into heavy haulage
John then conceived the idea of having portable covers for his platform lorries and became the first contractor on the East Rand to offer the service of furniture removals with covered vans.
A union-wide certificate was applied for and, once granted, enabled Selection Cartage to not only undertake furniture removals, but heavy haulage as well, from Beit Bridge on the Rhodesian border to Cape Town.
At the end of 1947, Stephen van Niekerk, the only son of John and Mattie, joined his father in the business and brought his knowledge of the transport industry he acquired overseas to Springs. Father and son went on to run a hugely successful operation.
All the pantechnicon van bodies used for the various vehicles were built to the company’s own design. For long distance vehicles, special sleeping bunks were fitted for the drivers, who were often away for more than three weeks at a time.
A fully equipped workshop was established at the depot and a well-equipped repair van was always available to travel to any breakdown and repair on site.
The “one driver one vehicle policy” was initiated where each driver took full responsibility for his vehicle.
When that driver went on leave, his vehicle went into the workshop where it underwent a complete overhaul, even repainting the body if necessary. This policy helped keep repairs due to negligent driving to a minimum.
Banking on storage
As an value-added service to the removals industry, Stephen saw the demand for long-term storage.
Initially, the company had a series of garages around the corner from the original offices, and in 1960 a modern storage warehouse was built.
A brick building larger than 2000m2 brick allowed for the storage of furniture and commercial goods in individual storage cages.
What was not used for household goods, was let out to Ideal Cycle and Toys for their overflow of toys and bicycles.