B.E.D. Cape Town: cultivating customer relationships for a harvest of growth and success in the Western Cape agri sector

Grain SA’s NAMPO Cape 2023, held in Bredasdorp between 13 and 16 September, proved the perfect platform for Bolt and Engineering Distributors (B.E.D.) Cape Town – not only to showcase its diverse product range – but also to sow the seeds of important new customer relationships within the Western Cape agricultural sector, according to B.E.D. Cape Town’s Area Sales Manager, Ruan Willers.

Established in 2010, B.E.D. Cape Town services a large and extremely varied agricultural region that extends as far as Bredasdorp, a town in the Southern Overberg region of the Western Cape: “In the Overberg region, there is a lot of canola, hops and barley; while sheep and dairy farming are typically prevalent in the Malmesbury and Swartland region. It is a very large and extremely diverse sector with a large geographical footprint throughout the province,” Willers explains.

Local is lekker

Agriculture is one of the highest earning sectors for B.E.D Cape Town, accounting for approximately a third of its business over the past year. The sector not only includes farmers and farmers’ co-operatives; but also wholesalers and retailers servicing this sector, as well as local manufacturers of agricultural equipment.

Willers says that local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) make up a particularly important segment of this market. 

Partnering with agricultural suppliers – many of which are located in the smaller and more remote Western Cape towns – is another win / win”: “This is our route to market and enables them to stock top international brands that they would not have been able to make available to their customers without their partnership with B.E.D,” he notes.

Willers adds that, since making new customer contacts at NAMPO in September, he has closed several deals and will regularly be visiting areas close to Swellendam, as visitors to B.E.D.’s NAMPO stand had opened his eyes to opportunities within the area. 

An ear to the ground

Willers points out that NAMPO 2023 was excellent, notwithstanding the weather challenges which did impact visitor numbers this year.

“Exhibiting at the show enabled B.E.D. not only to connect with different customer segments and with potential new customers – but also to develop a clear understanding of the many challenges facing the sector.

For example, there is a general feeling of uncertainty due to the ongoing energy crisis, turbulent economic times and weather related issues. With waterlogged lands, farmers cannot plant or spray crops. This means that yields are down, while production costs are climbing. As a result, there was a certain amount of reticence when it came to spending on big ticket items at NAMPO,” Willers comments.

“That said, smaller items often pave the way for bigger business further down the track – and B.E.D.’s excellent customer service is always a favourite. Brand exclusivity also proved an asset: having the spares and knowledge to service older machines attracted significant interest, which is an important entry point that could ultimately lead to more enquiries and business further down the line,” he adds.

At NAMPO 2023, B.E.D. showcased a range of brands and products, including established names such as Fronius and SKF. “We also used showcased Metabo, an international supplier of industrial power tools, grinders and impactors which we are introducing to the Western Cape’s agricultural sector,” Willers adds. 

Live demonstrations, which included the use of the Metabo grinders and impactors, and extended to sheet metal nibblers and glass grinding, were particularly well received by farmers and their families. 

“All in all, this was a good way to ensure our products were noticed, and to attract a crowd. NAMPO is a very dynamic event. There are so many farms and ways to reach farmers and the agricultural sector as a whole – and NAMPO is one of the best,” he enthuses.

Taking stock

Willers describes the Western Cape farming community as “real, honest, authentic and human.”

He says that community, continuity, flexibility, reliability and prompt service delivery are key to cementing bonds that can last years. As a result, he listens closely to the needs of farmers and his other agricultural customers, and has built up a portfolio of popular products,  supported by a stockholding at all times.

“Right now, everyone is ready for harvesting season and, if we cannot get that single bolt needed for one of the rollers, for example, it can cost a farmer a day’s labour. Good stockholding has enabled us to give faster service, and to keep production going. This is all about fine-tuning our operation to cater for what our agricultural customers need. Bolt and Engineering is always available and always here for them,” he maintains.

Growing fruitful relationships

Juan van Zyl, Operations Manager at B.E.D Cape Town concurs, pointing out that, in the agricultural sector, it is important as a supplier to think in the same way as one’s customers, with a human rather than a rigid corporate approach.

For van Zyl, B.E. D’s mantra ‘We care, and you matter’ applies. That starts during first time engagements (such as NAMPO) and follows through to customer service delivery.

“This is all part of the B.E.D. ‘100 / 0’ ethos which sees employees taking 100 percent responsibility and accountability with zero excuses. Add our ‘#CGB’ or ‘Continually Getting Better’ call-to-action and customers can expect good service from every single interaction,” he points out.

The company’s caring mentality also extends to their long-standing national corporate social investment (CSI) partnership with Cancervive. At NAMPO in Humansdorp and in Bredasdorp this year, B.E.D donated a Kengirl 77-piece pink toolbox for auction to raise funds. 

Farming forward

While stereotypically, farmers can be portrayed as being conservative and set in their ways, B.E.D. has found that they are in fact open to new technology, products and brands.

“We are able to assist agricultural customers in this regard. New technology ticks important boxes when it comes to efficiency, productivity and cost containment. What sets Bolt and Engineering apart, is being able to introduce new technology, products and ideas without sacrificing the warmth and character for which B.E.D. has always been known and loved for the past four decades. With this mindset, we look forward to consistently partnering in – and furthering – the growth and success of the agricultural sector in the Western Cape,” Willers concludes.