AFTER THE SEED FOR CAPRICORN SOCIETY LIMITED WAS GERMINATED IN SERVICE STATON MANAGERS, ALL PART OF THE GOLDEN FLEECE FUEL STATION NETWORK I WESTERN AUSTRALIA, GOT TOGETHER FOR A COUPLE OF COLD BEERS IN A PUB IN PERTH. THE DISCUSSION TURNED TO HOW DEPENDENT THEY WERE ON THE BIG BOYS AND THEIR VULNERABILITY TO THEIR WHIMS IN BOTH SUPPLY AND PRICING. THE NAME OF THE BEER WAS APPROPRIATE; “SWAN” BECAME A TALISMAN FOR THESE BRAVE MEN, WHO OVER THE NEXT FEW DECADES, TOOK THEIR FUTURE IN THEIR OWN HANDS AND TURNED AN UGLY DUCKLING INTO A BEAUTIFUL SWAN. THE ORIGINAL GROUPING WAS KNOWN AS GROUP 11, AND IT WAS THE CATALYST FOR TODAY’S MULTINATIONAL CAPRICORN SOCIETY LIMITED.
Today, Capricorn is one of the largest independent automotive parts buying groups in the southern hemisphere, providing services to the entire automotive service and repair industry in Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of South Africa. From a light purple in 1974, Capricorn is now a deep purple and is the smoke on the water between the three southern nations, acting as a critical intermediary in the automotive value chain by facilitating strategic partnerships between its members and loading automotive suppliers, and operating under the seven international principles of co-operation – Voluntary and Open Membership; Democratic Member Control; Member Economic Participation; Autonomy and Independence; Education, Training and Information; Co-operation Among Co-operatives; and Concern for Community.
The idea behind Capricorn is simple – it’s all based on people working together, for the mutual benefit of all. This philosophy was on display in living colour, from mulberry to heliotrope, at Capricorn’s annual purple bash on 1st May 2010 at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng. The “year-end” function, which normally takes place in November each year, was postponed last year, due to the economic crisis, and is an example of the co-operative approach. Rob Mildenhall, outgoing Business Development Manager for South Africa, explained at the time of the postponement, “Capricorn is a pragmatic organisation that is not scared to take tough decisions for the good of the whole. We have decided to postpone our year-end function to April/May 2010, as we realise that 2009 has been a tough year, and this has put pressure on our suppliers and partners. 2010 will see growth return, and as our combined hard work bears fruit, we shall have our function to celebrate this fact”.
Trent Bartlett, CEO and David Fraser, and General Manager Automotive respectively of Capricorn had flown across the pond to share the moment with the South African suppliers and members, and in his address to the assembled purple people, Trent Bartlett gave the good news that the Capricorn Society continues to grow strongly and that international research has shown that co-operatives across the globe have continued to thrive despite the recent financial crisis, which is testament to the sound business model on which co-operatives are based. He added that the co-operative concept survives through the loyalty and steadfastness of its members, and the critical support of the preferred suppliers. Both the members and suppliers are responsible for the growth of society.