HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

The history of the Fuchs family in South Africa stretches back to 1883, when a young governess by the name of Verena Schneider accompanied her family of missionaries on a voyage from Austria to the Cape of Good Hope. Upon their arrival, she settled in Kimberley where she met and married Herman Fuchs a year later and on 18 December 1904, Verena gave birth to Carl Julius Fuchs.

Due to the economic recession at the time, Carl enrolled as a plumbing artisan at the age of fourteen and commenced his career as an apprentice, employed by Hoffman Brothers in Johannesburg. During 1928, Carl married Emily Lillian Humphries, a young lady employed at the Ladies' Hats & Gloves Department of a local department store in town. Together, they were an ambitious team who cherished the idea of one day establishing their own business.

In 1929, Carl left Hoffman Brothers and, selling everything they jointly owned - including their home in Kensington, his Harley Davidson motorcycle with its side-car and her much beloved grand piano - he and Emily raised the capital required to purchase the bare essentials in order to establish CJ Fuchs (Pty) Ltd. The company's first workshop consisted of a basic shed, converted from an old stable that was situated at 149 Marshall Street, Johannesburg. Here, a large sign outside read: CJ Fuchs - Registered Plumber & Sheet Metal Specialist.



During these early years, the couple would make many personal sacrifices, working side-by-side with only one African employee and completing as many as three shifts around the clock. Initially, the company focused on plate-making and spray-painting, while during World War II, it also manufactured basic components for the military industry. Slowly, their hard work and dedication paid off and the company began to flourish.

Venturing into the production of domestic electrical appliances under licence from the American company Westing House Electric International, the business was relocated to a newly-built, large factory in Alrode, Alberton during 1948. The new line of appliances was branded "Fuchsware" and it proved most popular amongst South African consumers. These Fuchsware stoves, refrigerators, circuit breakers, geysers, enamelwork, stainless steel ware, etc would soon become trusted household names throughout the country. Later on, the company expanded its product lines to include industrial electrical equipment, electronic systems and colour television sets.

Until the mid-seventies, CJ Fuchs (Pty) Ltd would continue to grow into a multi-million Rand operation, employing thousands of people in several subsidiary companies within the group. After his death in 1976, the company was sold to the then Barlow Rand. During his later years, two honorary doctoral degrees were conferred upon Carl Fuchs, respectively by the Universities of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1973, he was also the first to be admitted as a Freeman of the Town of Alberton.

As no children were born of their marriage, Carl and Emily Fuchs established the Fuchs Foundation - a charitable and educational trust fund - on 1 August 1969. In their own view, founding this grantmaking foundation represented their actual contribution to the country and its people. By the time of her death in 1995, their joint efforts and hard work had not only managed to leave a legacy, but also inspired a vision: to improve the quality of life of all less privileged people of South Africa. Over the next 50 years, the Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation would grow into a significant philanthropic foundation within this country, while the continuing benefits generated by the Foundation along with its beneficiaries, remain a fitting memorial to two of South Africa's great sons and daughters - Carl and Emily Fuchs.