Heavy-duty machines and services company Barloworld Equipment inaugurated a new 3 200 m2 showroom at its Isando campus, in Ekurhuleni, on Wednesday, and renamed its ten-year-old learning academy in honour of Peter Bulterman.
Barloworld CEO Dominic Sewela, alongside Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina and heavy-duty equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Europe, Africa and Middle East VP Nigel Lewis, as well as customers, dignitaries and Rosemary Bulterman launched the Peter J Bulterman Learning Academy, which Peter was instrumental in establishing.
Sewela spoke about the passion Peter had for training, linking it, as Barloworld does as part of its corporate strategy, to the sustainability of the company and the country.
"Peter's fingerprints can be found all over the learning academy, which has trained 1 500 Caterpillar certified artisans, as well as the culture of the company. It was his way to care about people and his customers, and to ensure that every interaction leaves them better than before," said Sewela.
Barloworld chairperson Dumisa Ntsebeza said the opening of the learning academy in 2009, at a cost of R120-million, was aimed at supporting skills development in South and Southern Africa. The academy also serves as the Caterpillar centre of excellence in Africa, he added.
"This investment in technical skills development was made during the economic downturn of 2008/9, and skills development has become an integral part of our strategy for the long-term sustainability of the business. We wanted the academy to contribute to the company's and country's broader transformation objectives and contribute to the availability of skills in the engineering and construction industries in South Africa," he said.
Barloworld also provides accommodation for students of the learning academy, and is focused on developing highly skilled staff for customers. However, Barloworld has employed 231 of the certified artisans that have trained at the academy, and a further 174 artisans are part of its Southern African operations.
Further, Barloworld also unveiled its new 4 500 m2 head offices that has been built on the Isando campus called Umbono, which means "vision" in isiZulu. This is part of the company's move from its Sandton offices, which have been rebuilt as a mixed-use precinct, Sewela said.
"The R170-million investment in the Isando campus offices and showroom is part of our goal to be closer to our clients, to provide them with expert advice in the showroom and provide them with buy, rent, or trade-in options within two minutes and provide feedback on requests for finance within 60 minutes."
Barloworld has held the Caterpillar agency licence since 1929, and Lewis highlighted that Caterpillar was also investing to support its partnership with the company. Additionally, Caterpillar financial services were available in South Africa, which enabled Caterpillar clients to get services and support for the full lifecycle of their machines.
"We are making the investment to ensure we continue to serve and provide solutions that our clients need. Some Caterpillar machines in the region are more than 50 years old, and this is the type of long-term service commitment we make through our investments. Caterpillar and Barloworld are striving to earn the business of clients for the next ninety years," said Lewis.
Highlighting the life and legacy of Peter Bulterman, Sewela said leadership was about integrity and delivering on what was committed to.
"Our investment in skills development and the new showroom is to improve the excellence of the service we provide to clients. We have all the service, parts and support on one campus. However, it is important that we invest in the communities we work in, have a positive impact on the environment and society, and leave all the people who deal with our business better.
"This investment is not just about our people working here currently. I started my career in Isando, in 1993. This investment is for the future of the business and continues the legacy of founder Ernest Barlow, Peter and all the people who are passionate about the 100-year-old business and who make contributions that will outlast their own involvement," concluded Sewela.