A journey through time, an emblem of innovation, a chronicler of culture; this is the essence of what CYMOT embodies and what you will find when stepping through the door to the recently unveiled CYMOT Museum. Housed in a refurbished corner of their head office in Windhoek’s northern industrial area, the CYMOT Museum celebrates 75 years of the company’s existence, and in many ways, 75 years of Namibian history itself.
Text Elzanne McCulloch | Photographs Sky Angula
From the Spring 2023 issue
A Storied Journey
From the moment you walk into the room, you’re greeted by a wave of nostalgia. Filled to the brim with artefacts and photos, the space comes alive with tales of achievement and perseverance. The walls narrate the company’s journey, resonating with the impact it has had on the nation.
On display is evidence of manual stock-taking systems from bygone eras, reminders of simpler times when lunchtime table tennis tournaments brought joy and camaraderie. Shelves upon shelves display classic photo albums brimming with memories. These pages of history don’t just recount the story of a company, but the story of Namibian people and their relentless pursuit of excellence.
Founding and Flourishing
It all began with Helmut Brass in 1948, with nothing more than his family and £600 in debt, they set off for South West Africa from South Africa in a new Hudson. Through desert sands and across vast plains they voyaged to an uncertain future. From selling Autolite car batteries out of his residence to opening CYMOT’s first official branch in 1950, the company’s journey mirrors Namibia’s growth itself. In 1958, groundbreaking innovation saw them importing and distributing Irvin Safety Belts, a testament to CYMOT’s commitment to pioneering change.
As you move through the museum, you’ll find evidence of this first ever car seat belt marketed in Namibia, along with a myriad of other vintage odds and ends. A 40-year old Engel camping fridge donated by Le Roux van Schalkwyk is displayed with pride of place. The fridge is still running today. The beers cheekily stored inside are perfectly chilled upon inspection.
Touches of History
The faces of 75 years worth of employees and their achievements add a human touch to the corporate tale. Alongside, an iconic box iMac, juxtaposed with Mr Claus Theissen’s secretary’s old typewriter, evokes a sense of transition from the old to the new.
A vintage bicycle, with automated turning wheels, is mounted against a feature wall, reminding visitors of CYMOT’s dedication and ingenuity in importing bicycles to Namibia. Each artefact tells a story of progress, of embracing new beginnings without losing touch with the past.
Legacy and Future
CYMOT’s history is a tapestry of growth, expansion, and innovation. From Claus Theissen to Axel Theissen’s 20-year service as Managing Director, leading to the current CEO, Ralph Ellinger, the baton has been passed with integrity and foresight. The new flagship branch at Hilltop Estate will stand as an example of the company’s ongoing commitment to growth and innovation.
As the museum reflects on the past, it also symbolises a bright future for CYMOT. A company deeply rooted in serving its customers, impacting local communities, and consistently innovating, it remains well-positioned to carry on its success story.
The CYMOT Museum is not just a place but an experience. A vivid representation of Namibian pride, industry, and human spirit. It is a celebration of 75 years of courage, resilience, and innovation. As you walk out of the museum, you carry with you a piece of Namibian history, a sense of shared identity, and an overwhelming inspiration to look towards the future with hope and ambition. CYMOT invites those who are eager to celebrate its 75th anniversary and the shared history of Namibia to come visit their new museum at their head office.