The need for independence and a passion for farming have been part of the Van Zyl family for generations. Willem, the Van Zyl ancestor from the Netherlands, worked as a fresh produce farmer for the Dutch East Indian Company in the Cape of Good Hope. He was fired in 1702 due to insubordination. He then bought a farm in Franschhoek where he farmed with fresh produce, wine and livestock. His descendants left the Cape during the 1830s and gradually moved north. Eventually they settled in the region east of Polokwane in 1880.
After the Anglo-Boer War in 1902 a regulation came into play where farmers received a registered number (branding iron) with which to brand their livestock. In 1903 the code ZZ2 was awarded to Burt van Zyl, the grandfather of Bertie van Zyl – the founder of the ZZ2 farming enterprise. At some stage the branding iron was used to stamp potato bags in red paint before sending them to market. The mark migrated over time from a branding mark for livestock to a trademark for all ZZ2’s products.
An early photograph of the Van Zyl brothers: From the left hand side is Bertie, Flippie and Hennie.
Bertie van Zyl was born on 16 November 1932 on the farm Boekenhoutbult in the Mooketsi valley in Limpopo Province.
Documented history is important at ZZ2. An archive was created at the head office on the farm Boekenhoutbult to preserve memorabilia for posterity.
Bertie left school in 1948 at the age of 16 to take over the farming responsibilities from his father. The farming activities centred on a mixed crop but focussed mainly on potatoes. Life was hard and the family barely survived. Enterprising by nature, Bertie soon realised that his neighbour made more money planting tomatoes than potatoes. The climate in the fertile Mooketsi valley made it possible to plant tomato crops year-round. Although convincing his father of the viability of tomatoes was not easy, his first successful tomato crop was harvested in 1953. ZZ2 was registered as a private company in 1966.
Tenacity, an eye for a business opportunity, a knack for communicating with labourers in their own language and an unwavering self-belief stood Bertie in good stead over the years.
At the time of his death in 2005, he had built up ZZ2 to a multi-million Rand farming conglomerate and had made his mark in public life – both in the agricultural sector and on provincial and national level. Today the ZZ2 brand is a well-known icon in South Africa and we are proud of its history.
The Sepedi/Northern Sotho phrase ‘Ke Tzwa Tzweo’ was added to our brand in 2014 and a literal translation is ‘This is it’. With this phrase we acknowledge the majority of the people in our environment who helped build ZZ2.