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Supplier gives insights on ensuring success

The above image depicts Jan Biljoen (right) and Mike Glitrow (left)

JAN VILJOEN & MIKE GILTROW Viljoen notes that they work well together, complementing each other in their managerial and operational styles

27th October 2023

     

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Commemorating 40 years of trading in November 2023, fasteners and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplier Bolt and Engineering Distributors (B.E.D.) MD Jan Viljoen says the company continues to make a mark within the industry, with Viljoen having played an integral part in the company to date.

“I learnt early on in my career never to rely on only one key customer or indeed market segment – so we have diversified, expanding our offering over the past 40 years from mining into the agricultural sector (and many others) to ensure that we are able to cater to more than one core industry in the region’s wider economy.”

He explains that B.E.D. has proudly introduced several innovations to service the broader mining and related industries, adding that service is a key driver of their success.

Viljoen – working closely with B.E.D. group cofounder and CEO Mike Glitrow – has aided in driving innovation in product offerings such as bearings, PPE, paints and thinners, with “great success”.

The company has grown into a network of nine branches countrywide, as well as an exports division and two cutting and welding centres in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Viljoen explains that, with the conclusion of negotiations, his family business was acquired by B.E.D. – the company’s first acquisition in 1988 – and was later renamed the B.E.D. Klerksdorp branch.

Glitrow comments that the acquisition allowed B.E.D. to retain Viljoen’s services as the operational manager, bringing his knowledge of the region and its potential opportunities, and aiding in B.E.D. establishing the operations and a solid footprint in this key mining area.

He adds that having the new branch run by the right person with an understanding of the area’s culture and industries was an important part of B.E.D.’s strategy, allowing the group to provide “bespoke” solutions.

Glitrow further explains that the strategy was successfully duplicated in other branches countrywide thereafter.

“In [Viljoen], we fortuitously acquired both an excellent operations manager for the Klerksdorp branch, and the future MD of the entire company,” notes Glitrow, noting that

Viljoen became MD in 2012, further cementing his relationship with Glitrow.

Viljoen notes that they work well together, complementing each other in their managerial and operational styles, adding that twice a year he and Glitrow undertake a roadshow visit to all of the branches, meeting with managers and employees, discussing the branches well-being and where they can assist.

“I am a strong believer that if you look after your employees’ welfare, as well as their career growth and development, then they will look after the business. Motivation and training is something I am passionate about,” states Viljoen.

He has been honoured twice by the Klerksdorp Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Businessman of the Year award in 2001 and 2011.

Regarding lessons that he learnt along the way, he notes, “I have realised that no one is truly indispensable, and that a solid business is usually able to go on, even in the absence of a key person.”

He adds that he subscribes to the mantra that “the customer is king”.

Viljoen says that, to remain viable and successful in business, the secret is to be adept at adapting and reinventing as required to assist customers and ensure that their businesses will remain sustainable.

He concludes that even as the country’s economy and infrastructure face challenges, B.E.D. will continue to make a positive difference to its customers and the industry as a whole, in whichever way it can, but primarily by maintaining a focus on customer service, innovation and solutions.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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