Eric Walker (right) with sons Max and Erin in front of pictures showing the early beginnings of the company that now consists of several Upington businesses
As Bill Gates of Microsoft said: “There is nothing like success to breed success.” And the Walker family in Upington is a good example of the truth of this. Ever since the father of the present owner of the 4 x 4 Mega and Walker Midas stores – plus several other businesses – took over the Upington Radiators and Motor Graveyard in 1959-60, they’ve become the first port of call for anyone looking for someone to take over an ailing business and grow it successfully.
After two years of teaching business science, Eric Walker had joined his father, a former pilot, in the family business in 1981. By 1986 the various enterprises also included a Midas store – then significantly smaller than the current building – which now houses a substantial, well-stocked, fishing section, as well as some camping gear.
Several photographs of their first buildings and later extensions, proudly give a pictorial overview of the company history and growth. Along the ramp, leading up to the offices, hang rows of certificates for “Franchisee of the Year”, “Marketing Man of the Year” and other accolades.
Camping sales have exploded over the past few years, says Walker, especially with gear used by 4×4 enthusiasts. “Outdoor has become a big trend,” with customers travelling from as far as Springbok, Prieska and Kuruman to shop at their stores.
Four years ago they opened their second Midas store in town, and two years ago, after they opened the Mega World store, they moved most of the camping equipment to that shop on the outskirts of town.
The floods didn’t have such a devastating impact on the town’s economy as some people believe, maintains Walker. The problem was that it was the earliest flooding of the Orange River yet and many farmers still had to harvest grape crops. “The export farmers were finished, but the grape producers for the local market suffered.” This year they delivered about 40 000 tonnes less than the 155 000 tonnes last year.
Walker’s two sons, Max and Erin, are also involved in the business – the latter is currently developing systems to ensure the smooth running of the various businesses that also include a garage, an agency for IVECO trucks, a workshop, wastepaper and scrapmetal works, a test station, to name a few.