Release time : 2015-06-12 09:28:37
The Bearing Man Group (BMG) - previously known as Bearing Man - recently announced its rebranding and new look group logo at the Johannesburg-based Electra Mining Exhibition in September this year.
Originally founded as a bearings supplier, BMG has grown substantially and today, bearings comprise less than 40% of the total product offering. The company was formed in1974 and has grown to a current yearly turnover of R1,7-billion, servicing a wide variety of industry sectors.
A comprehensive customer survey identified the confusion surrounding the range of products and services offered. It became apparent that the company needed to be presented in a more seamless style, as a group offering a complete range of engineering components, along with a superior technical solutions service.
Speaking to Engineering News, CEO Charles Walters says, "Over the years Bearing Man has acquired many different product lines, some of which were sold under the Bearing Man banner, some under the Invicta banner and others were established with their own product identity. Two years ago, when I joined the company, and as a result of an intensive customer audit, it became evident that the Bearing Man branding had become ??confused and fragmented' within the various market sectors within which we operate. It was, therefore, a strategic decision to rebrand the company in order for all its divisions to promote a single, unified brand offering, hence the rebrand and new logo "BMG". Not only was this an essential strategy to undertake, but it tied in comfortably with the new ??preferred engineering solutions provider in Africa' philosophy that BMG is embracing".
Divisions that will form part of BMG, and their new branding include bearings, seals, power transmission, drives, belting, fasteners and filtration as well as the launch of a training academy, the BMG Academy of Excellence, and a technical division - technical resources.
Walters continues, "The engineering sector has grown considerably since the formation of Bearing Man. We do not plan to rest on our laurels, there is no room for complacency in our line of business. Our strategic objective is to double the size of BMG's business over the next five years through organic growth with existing customers and suppliers as well as seeking pertinent distributorships and value- adding acquisitions. We believe this is the correct formula to adopt and to this end BMG will be investing in not only the rebranding exercise, but also in skills development, and supply chain optimisation programmes."
BMG's mission statement is to become the preferred product supplier and technical solutions provider of choice in such diverse sectors as agriculture, mining, steel processing, robotics, sugar, paper and general engineering, as well as the automotive sector.
On the design of the BMG's new logo, sales and marketing director Ian King says, "The new BMG logo was carefully crafted and designed to represent our areas of expertise and to tie-in with our brand promise, that is: quality components; technical expertise and superior service. Each arc on the new logo is representative of our brand promise. BMG prides itself on the fact that we provide products and services of the highest quality to our customers, hence our ISO 9001:2000 accreditation. Our new BMG logo and corporate identity is a reflection of our commitment to our customers and the professionalism of the BMG team in the services and products they offer."
BMG Technical Resources Offerings
As well as unveiling its new corporate identity at the recent Electra Mining exhibition, BMG also had a separate technical resources stand which highlighted the technical expertise on offer to its customers.
Walters says, "The technical skills shortage currently experienced in South Africa provides BMG with the opportunity to not only sell quality products to customers, but also to offer packages of technical support services in terms of trouble shooting and advice; design, technical training and condition monitoring, all aimed at effectively assisting our customers to optimise their plant availability, thus cementing our position and promoting BMG as the preferred choice of engineering solutions provider."
BMG technical director Paul McKinlay mentions that the technical resources team will comprise a pool of the top technical people drawn from the various BMG divisions, into one unified unit and which will be marketed to customers. Its services will be chargeable; creating an income stream to enable BMG to reinvest in the attraction and retention of the top technical expertise in South Africa.
The Bearing Man Group Academy of Excellence
BMG places a heavy emphasis on skills retention and development, and in this regard, has established the BMG Academy of Excellence which is an in-house training academy aimed at providing accredited technical skills training, initially to BMG staff. This facility will, in due course, be offered to customers' staff where they might benefit from BMG's course curricula and expertise. The courses have been developed in conjunction with a well respected professor of mechanical engineering from Kwa-Zulu Natal.
The BMG Academy of Excellence will, in addition to technical training, also focus on sales, service, management and financial skills education.
BMG COO Abe Bekker says, "We believe the Academy of Excellence affords us the opportunity to establish a culture of learning and knowledge sharing throughout our group and customer-base. Management recognises that any investment in the skilling and up-skilling of its workforce has dual benefits of improved efficiencies and increased staff loyalty - and there is no monetary value that can be placed on staff loyalty."
"Courses initially will be at an introductory technical entry level, progressing over time to offer university entrance level curriculum. The system is web-based, allowing staff in all our locations to participate. The software registers each student, advises them of what courses they are qualified to tackle, and tracks their progress through the material. Customers must have confidence in our sales and technical personnel and their ability to assist with queries and problems competently. We believe that the BMG Academy of Excellence will equip our staff with comprehensive technical and commercial skills, as well as a vehicle to satisfy their own personal developmental aspirations."
The Academy will be administered from its head office premises located in Durban, in Kwa-Zulu Natal, and registration with the manufacturing, engineering and related services sector education and training authority is pending. Ultimately, the academy will offer day courses in major centres of the Republic with mentorship initiatives also on offer.
Customers of BMG will gain from the academy as it will be offering product knowledge and technical training courses designed with the customer in mind, and will be aimed at engineers, artisans, forepeople and related levels.
The BMG Academy of Excellence intends offering a recognised qualification to successful students at the end of each training module or course. R3-million has been invested in the establishment of this academy by BMG over the past two years.
McKinlay says, "The focus of the academy is most definitely to develop our own staff from within, starting off from a basic level. It will become a ??living' part of the BMG culture; it is not a once off project."
"As an engineering business, we believe we have a responsibility to train school-leavers who join BMG, for example, about forces, loads, measurements, temperatures, etc. all of which are relevant in an engineering concern. There will be a bridging course for the school-leaver, a foundation level course if you will, to start the new recruit off on the right footing for a career with BMG. Something that we at BMG will be proud of."
The Academy of Excellence will not replace on-site training, which the company sees as an essential component in its relationship-building with customers.
Corporate Social Investment
BMG has always believed in giving back to the community in the form of constructive assistance and its support to the Programme for Technological Careers (Protec) is a good example of its corporate social investment philosophy.
Protec is a non-profit organisation, operating on a national scale, promoting technological literacy and education in order to develop South Africa's technologically skilled human resource base. Protec assists learners from the previously disadvantaged communities to become successfully integrated into the work place in general, with an emphasis on the technological and engineering fields in particular.
BMG has assisted with ten Protec branches in the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mpumalanga. BMG has sponsored equipment and stationery in each of these branches, as well as hosting students at the BMG warehouse and offices, thereby exposing students to different working environments to assist in their career choice decision making.
With support from BMG, Protec has achieved, since 2005, a 99% Matric pass rate in Kwa-Zulu Natal, with more than 60% achieving a university exemption, and, since 2006, over 80% of Protec students have been successfully placed at tertiary institutions or on learnership programmes.
A Bit of the Story
BMG was started as a bearings shop in Durban, in 1974, by husband and wife team Greg Till and Lorelle Till, and from this small beginning grew the giant of industry that BMG has become. Today, BMG is the largest distributor of bearings, seals, power transmission components, electric and geared motors, belting, fasteners and filtration systems in South Africa and employs over 1 800 people.
McKinlay says, "BMG has outlets in Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique and we are looking at opportunities that may arise elsewhere in Africa such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar. Obviously our priority is the South African market but at present 9% of our business is linked into the Southern African Development Community region. Our regional growth ambitions are grounded in our basic success at home - which is having established a very reputable and professional springboard of operations."
King tells Engineering News that the company's impressive local and international presence is a reflection of sound sourcing policies and employing a technically skilled workforce that customers can rely on. "The workforce is only as good as the services and products on offer by BMG - we have made impressive strategic choices in regard to what products and services we will lend our distributor name to, and our new technical resources team is another step in our quest for excellence," he says.
BMG holds some of the most exclusive and well respected distribution agreements with brands such as NSK, NTN, Timken and IKO bearings; Hallite seals; Fenner power transmission components; Tsubaki chains; Esco couplings; Varvel, Nord and Sumitomo industrial gearboxes as well as Habasitlink plastic modular belting and Huck fasteners.
As BMG has grown, it has embraced the responsible corporate citizen philosophy and is dedicated to quality, safety, skills transfer and social upliftment. BMG achieved its ISO 9001 Quality Management System certification in 2003 with recertification confirmed until 2009. The importance of the provision of a safe and healthy working environment is reflected by the company's implementation of Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Sevice 18001 certification.
Bekker adds, "It is our objective to remain a powerful force in the engineering sector, providing superior technical solutions to our customers, with the supply of leading branded products and the best of technical skills available. We believe we offer a world class service - and BMG will continue to build on this success based on sound business and human development principles."
As BMG has grown it has become involved in various industrial boards and business trusts such as the South African Business Trust, a government partnered initiative which helps provide sustainable improvements in the lives of the under privileged.
Black Economic Empowerment
Changing times in a changing South Africa saw BMG commit itself to transformation and community upliftment, and BMG fully supports the South African Governments' broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) initiatives.
Walters says, "BMG has entered into a R116-million BEE shareholding deal with aloeCap Ltd and the Humulani Investment Share Incentive Trust. This transaction is based on sound business values in order to strengthen the group's customer base, empower and develop our staff and harness strengths from our new partners to achieve our ambitious growth strategy, benefiting all parties."
BMG has been audited at BEE rating Level 6, and is confident of reaching a BEE Level 5 rating in 2009.
Energy Efficient Power Transmission
BMG has launched a range of energy efficient power transmission components, designed specifically to reduce electricity consumption.
With its technical expertise and wide range of offerings, BMG is able to offer assistance to its customers in optimising their plant energy consumption and efficiency. Energy efficient products such as quality branded high efficiency (Eff1) electric motors, self-adjusting motor bases, frequency inverters, fluid couplings and synthetic oils ensure optimum efficiency, reduced power consumption, low maintenance and extended service life.
For example, Nord drives, designed by German manufacturers Getriebebau Nord, specifically with energy efficiencies in mind, are assembled locally by BMG Drives, and offer performance efficiencies in terms of mechanical speed control in demanding applications.
Nord drives meet local and international standards - including the European Eff1 norm and ISO 9001 specifications - and have established themselves internationally for reducing operational costs. Through the use of good design and manufacturing processes of motors, gears and electronic controllers, savings of up to 40% in operating costs have been reported.
BMG reports that owing to optimised gear design and the use of synthetic lubricants, mechanical wear is reduced in gears used in the Nord drive. Another positive to the Nord drive is the reduction of maintenance downtime.
BMG Drives also distributes the Danfoss frequency inverter which also enhances the division's ability to offer energy efficient products for system integration and automation solutions for industrial plants.
Danfoss variable speed drives have saved more than 20-million MWh of energy globally over the past few years - an equivalent to the yearly energy consumption of about five million houses.
Also on offer from the BMG Drives division is newly designed high efficiency motors offering a reduction in electricity consumption by some 35% and energy efficient self-adjusting motor bases offering easy and accurate v-belt tensioning.
In addition, Transfluid fluid couplings - for hydrodynamic transmission - are also exclusive to BMG. They are corrosion resistant fluid couplings and offer smooth start-up and reduced current absorptions during the starting phase with motor protection from jams and overloads are also available. A unique feature is that the drive can be started at low load conditions.
BMG is known for the distribution of quality products, and the locally manufactured Habot range of synthetic and speciality lubricants is another in its range. Owing to Habot's inherently stable molecular structure and its heat and oxidation resistant strengths, the synthetic lubricants have a longer service lifespan than traditional mineral oils. Wear and tear is also reduced as a result of Habot's higher film strength in its synthetic oils.
The New Frontier of Challenge
BMG has a customer base of over 20 000 customers ranging from the giants of mining to the cash-over-the-counter customers calling at over 120 branches throughout the Republic. BMG offerings touch every available industry in some form or guise.
Walters says, "In order to grow sales as a group, we are focusing on both organic growth as well as growth by acquisition. Organic growth encompasses the marketing and availability of our products and services to our customers; increasing their awareness of the full range of the BMG offering. There is immense scope for cross-selling across the range of products we offer .We have traditionally been a very effective importer and distributor of product lines, but we believe we needed to differentiate our service offering further by building on our technical services offering. We plan to enhance our customer relationships with our technical services and support package. Rather than being purely a very efficient and fast distributor and delivering the product to the customer on time, we plan to take it one step further by being available to the customers at their plant, to offer the technical support that they have been actively seeking from us."
"Finally, BMG is actively looking for ive value-adding acquisitions that complement our current package and build up our compelling solutions offering so that we can really provide our customers with more choice and more opportunities," says Walters.
BMG has made two fastener acquisitions in the last two years, making it now the leader in the South African fastener distribution market. The company has recently acquired Goldquest International Hydraulics enabling it to enter the fluid power sector. This is the first time BMG has entered the hydraulics and hydraulic related industries. The acquisition of Goldquest International Hydraulics has enabled BMG greater add-on value in terms of putting together and offering, for example, power pack solutions for customers.
BMG has also acquired the distributorship for Southern Africa for Pall Corporation, a global leader and specialist in industrial filtration.
The company's strategy is to become the number one or two player throughout all of the BMG divisions.
McKinlay adds, "We pride ourselves on obtaining quality distributorships and most of our product ranges are sourced from Europe, the Far East and the US. We are the only authorised distributor, for example, to assemble Sumitomo products outside of Japan. Quite a feather in our cap."
Walters says, "I am extremely proud to lead BMG into this new phase. I am excited and proud of our new offerings to our customers, particularly the technical resources service and total solutions packages we have developed. It will enable us to build the new BMG brand to its fullest potential, not only in South Africa and Africa, but elsewhere internationally as well."
"We, at BMG, have a great team with immense talent, not only professionally and technically, but as people with a sense of humanity and ethical standards that we work and live by. We are proud of our business acumen and the results of that show in how we have developed and grown our business and customer base over the past 34 years.
"Our holding company, Invicta Holdings Ltd, has been listed in the Top 100 companies in South Africa for the past 13 years and we offer no compromises in terms of our professionalism and work integrity. We look forward to the future as BMG with great enthusiasm and excitement, and our turnover for 2008 is expected to top R2-billion for the first time.
"We believe in the value of what we offer our customers, and we plan to grow with our customers. Growth at BMG is a strategic imperative - for our customers, our suppliers and our staff. We look forward to delivering on our new strategic vision as BMG - to be our customers' first choice and partner for all their plant requirements," Walters concludes.