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Bolt and Engineering celebrates its 40th anniversary: the good things never change, but keep getting better

THE Bolt and Engineering Distributors (B.E.D) Group, founded in November 1983, has been supplying the mining, agricultural, construction and engineering sectors with quality fasteners and equipment for 4 decades, celebrating its 40th anniversary in November 2023, embodied in the approach and motto of ‘the good things never change’

To this point, the Group has built its success on the power of people: from its valued internal B.E.D team members to equally valued and longstanding customers and suppliers. 

A good example of this approach is the company’s decision to retain its logistics in-house – products are delivered to customers by fulltime B.E.D drivers, in B.E.D delivery vehicles. 

“This is a physical manifestation of our belief in personalised service, and an extension of our motto and strapline ‘the perfect fit, fast’,” says Giltrow.

‘Bolted’ together for success

Giltrow set up the business with mentor and fellow entrepreneur Ernie Barnett. 

“I met Ernie in 1981 when I was in my early twenties. Ernie was 15 years my senior. Although there was quite an age difference, there was an instant connection. He had the experience and I had the raw passion and energy. I do not think we would have made it without one another,” Giltrow recalls. 

Giltrow and Barnett had worked together previously at a company which they exited to create their own business, Bolt and Engineering Distributors Group. Their boss at the time declared that the new venture would not last more than six months. 

“So, our initial aim was just to last seven months to prove him wrong. By the time we got past that seven month mark, we thought we might as well carry on,” Giltrow laughs. 

“Celebrating our 40th anniversary is very emotional for everyone concerned,” he remarks. “Apart from our wives and families – to whom we are very grateful for their unconditional love and support – few people knew of the massive sacrifices made during those early years. We had to put B.E.D first in order to successfully build the business. It was tough, and we knew it had to be done – it was all or nothing! 

Branching out

After 27 years working side by side, Barnett retired in 2010. Another like-minded industry professional, Jan Viljoen, ultimately took on the role of MD.  

“We met Jan when the B.E.D Group carried out its first acquisition of a family-owned company that became our Klerksdorp branch. After the acquisition, Jan became our operations manager and a shareholder. He brought with him a wealth of experience in the local mining industry,” Giltrow continues.  

People: the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the business

 Giltrow acknowledges that the company is very people-centred. ”I realised, from a young age, how important a role people play in your life. It is more rewarding to be a giver rather than a taker. Giving far outweighs receiving and one cannot put a monetary value to that.” 

“We have not always employed the best or most experienced people in a particular industry – but we have employed the right people. That can make a huge difference. There is more to doing well than just being the best. We prefer to have the right people who give of their best,” he explains.

Similarly, strong and lasting bonds with customers and suppliers have been built on respect, trust and loyalty. 

 “Without having a customer and doing a sale, you do not have a business. The customer might not always be right, but they are still the king or the queen.”

These strong relationships and positive attitudes have resulted in diversification and contributed towards the longevity of the company. 

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