Barloworld Equipment, which is the distributor and service supplier of US earthmoving equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, celebrated a 90-year partnership with Caterpillar in South Africa at the end of last month.
The anniversary coincided with the official opening of a new 60 000 m2 distribution warehouse near Johannesburg, which aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes for customers to order and collect spare parts for their machines.
The partnership stemmed from a 1927 bet between Charles ‘Punch’ Barlow (the eldest son of Barloworld founder Billy Barlow) and a sugar cane farmer on whether a Caterpillar tractor could “out-plough” a span of oxen. The mechanised machinery won the challenge and the farmer, in accordance with the wager, subsequently bought a Caterpillar tractor.
After making the historic Caterpillar sale, Charles Barlow travelled to the US to negotiate with Caterpillar to acquire a licence to make the Barlow name the sole and official sales and service Caterpillar dealer in South Africa.
The official agreement between Charles Barlow and Caterpillar was signed on August 17, 1927, leading to the opening of dealerships in Durban and the Free State. Barloworld Equipment has gone from strength to strength, employing more than 5 000 people.
The Caterpillar machines that Barloworld Equipment supplies to customers are used at mining and construction sites, either helping to extract minerals or assisting in building roads, dams, power stations, airports, harbours or other crucial logistics infrastructure that powers economies and facilitates the transportation of goods and people.
Barloworld Equipment is also currently one of the global role-players that supply heavy earthmoving machines through the 90-year partnership with Caterpillar that has been the foundation for Barloworld Equipment’s expansion beyond South Africa and into ten Southern Africa markets, as well as other regions, including Iberia, Siberia and Russia.
According to Barloworld, the introduction of the Caterpillar brand in South Africa in 1927 played a key role in the development of the country’s mining industry and physical infrastructure.
Parent company of Barloworld Equipment Barloworld Limited CEO Dominic Sewela says Barloworld Equipment’s success as a company is rooted in its close and long-standing partnership with Caterpillar. As a result, he says, Caterpillar and Barloworld Equipment have both become global brands. “We believe that this relationship will endure for another 90 years and . . . grow even stronger as Barloworld Equipment works towards achieving its vision of becoming a leading Caterpillar dealer operating in more territories.”
Barloworld Equipment intends to become a centre of excellence for other Caterpillar dealers, providing enhanced service for customers and investing heavily in training staff to meet the requirements of a rapidly changing world characterised by the unfolding digital revolution.
“The product quality and superior after-sales support that Caterpillar and Barloworld Equipment deliver are second to none in the industry. Our people take great pride in this shared drive for excellence, innovation, continuous improvement, an intense focus on customer needs and a dedication to meet those needs with a sense of urgency.”