Barloworld Equipment Botswana – Building for The Future

In this article, we look at the history of Barloworld Equipment Botswana, their current operations and plans for the future.

On 30th October 2021, Barloworld Equipment Botswana officially celebrated its 57th anniversary as the country’s Caterpillar earthmoving dealer: a major milestone and one that reflects a rich history of private and public sector partnerships that have helped to shape the country’s mining and infrastructure landscape since 1964. In this article, we look at the history of this company, its current operations and plans for the future.

The first registered Barloworld Equipment entity in Botswana was known as Construction Equipment Supplier Company, established on 12th September 1964. Then in 1971, the name changed to Botswana Earthmoving Machinery Co (Bemco). The existing head office in Francistown was expanded to support major mining activity at Selebi-Phikwe and Orapa, which today remain key copper and nickel, and diamond centres, respectively.

Then in 1981, the head office relocated to Gaborone to provide support for Debswana’s newly established Jwaneng mine, which became fully operational in August 1982. Bemco subsequently became Barlows Equipment, finally transitioning to become Barloworld Equipment Botswana. The current staff complement is around 260.


Mining remains the major contributor to Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and from inception, Caterpillar machines have played their part in unlocking the value of existing and greenfield projects. The same is true for infrastructure programmes, with a large portion of Botswana’s original national road network post-independence in 1966 built by a succession of contractors using Cat equipment.

In terms of mining machine milestones, Botswana was the first country in Africa to receive delivery of the Cat 7495 electric rope shovel, which has an operating weight of approximately 1 388 000 kg and a payload capacity of 109 tonnes, making it a three-pass loading match for ultra-sized off-highway mining trucks. Three Cat 7495 units were commissioned at Jwaneng during 2012 for Debswana’s Cut 8 expansion project. (Jwaneng is the richest diamond mine in the world by value.)

Training to support these and other Cat units is a core focus at Barloworld Equipment to keep pace with the growing machine population. Training takes place at the Gaborone branch. This is combined with practical and theoretical components at Barloworld Equipment’s PJB Learning Academy in Isando, Johannesburg. Barloworld Equipment, as an affiliated member of the Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM), also works closely with the BCM on developing training programmes for industry through the BCM Technical Working Group (TWG).

Skills development prepares the way for expansion plans within Botswana’s mining industry, as well as the creation of the Small and Medium Enterprises needed to stimulate micro-economic growth.

Allied to this is Barloworld Equipment’s active involvement in Corporate Social Investment and community initiatives in Botswana. These include the refurbishment at the Nata RAD Hostels that accommodates students from ZOI (Zone of Influence) Mosu, Mokubilo etc settlements/cattle posts. Barloworld Equipment is also a regular contributor to Debswana’s annual ‘General Managers’ Sponsored Walk’ at Orapa, which raises funds for underprivileged members of the community in the Boteti region.

Pierre Hill, the country manager for Barloworld Equipment Botswana has seen the company develop over the years “As I see it, my role is being responsible for managing all keyholder interest and customer expectations as well as creating a sustainable business that can assist in the growth of the Botswana economy.”

Standing out

When asked how Barloworld Equipment Botswana stands out from other companies in the construction and mining industries, Pierre feels they add more than their rivals “We are the dealers for CAT, a world-renowned brand.  This is achieved through enhancing our customer experience and offering tailor-made solutions to meet production requirements.”

This is something that he believes makes customers come back to Barloworld Equipment “When looking for a potential partner, customers should look for reliable partners and products, something that we provide.  One of the examples includes Debswana Diamond Company, which we have been trading with for over 50 years in Botswana.”

As with a lot of companies, a major challenge that Barloworld Equipment faced was the onset of COVID and the disruption it created. This meant that their approach had to change and they needed to adapt, something that Pierre further outlines “COVID-19 had a big impact on our business. It meant we had to look at what we were doing with regard to our operations. This meant changing our business model, having to diversify our revenue stream and be less dependent on one customer and commodity.”

Investing in people

Pierre is passionate when it comes to discussing how to spot talent and finding the best staff for the business and its growth “It is important that you look at the potential of the employees you have. To get the best from them, we develop individual development plans and implement a well-developed performance management system in building a high-performance organization.”

He also believes that Barloworld has a strong reputation for looking after its employees and it is something that needs to be maintained to provide a positive working atmosphere “Staff must be properly looked after and not taken for granted.  Our company has a good reputation for this and we believe it is important that staff can achieve the ideal work/life balance.”

This is further broken down on the company website with three key points that address employee satisfaction. The first is appreciation, making sure that staff feel that they are appreciated for the effort they put in. The second aspect of this is security, putting effort into understanding employees so that their personal and professional needs are fulfilled.  Finally, there is a push toward creating a reward-based culture that encourages and inspires employees to push forward and motivates them to achieve more.

This commitment to improved quality of life also extends to community outreach projects, including the Nata RAD Hostel refurbishment project in Botswana to help enrich the lives of underprivileged children. The company is keen to find ways to improve their local community and has a specific process for it as Pierre explains “We have an established a CSI Committee that meets regularly every month, evaluating community projects in the local area and assessing how we can help to improve the life of the community we operate in, adding to our organisational mission of building nations. We are passionate about it and it is something that we will continue to do in order to see how we can provide for our local community more effectively.”

Building a new future

The desire to maintain connections with the local community in Botswana does not end with charity or community service projects, even though these are important and have value. The company is developing a new head office in Gaborone, a statement that Pierre insists highlights their commitment to Botswana “We believe that investing in our new head office facility in Botswana was important, to show all our stakeholders that our commitment to the local area is for the long term and not just for the short term. It is our objective to be here for another 57 years.”

Barloworld Equipment Botswana is also expanding their local footprint with the delivery of a new Caterpillar fleet to the T3 Motheo Copper Project in the Ghanzi district. “We are very excited about this opportunity which is aligned to our key objective to diversify our revenue stream and customer base as well as their commitment to development in Botswana. On the company’s website, there is an indication of what their ethos is and the motivation behind their actions and how customers keep coming back to them “We’re doing it by driving customer satisfaction, by ensuring you always feel understood, valued and appreciated by our team…you’re dealing with the most reliable, accessible and safety conscious company and by making your experience as effortless as possible.”

In short, it feels like Barloworld wants to establish an ethos that goes beyond the equipment that they sell. The approach is commendable and hopefully, they will continue to provide a solid support for their local community in addition to the service that they provide for their customers. In the long term, here is hoping they can continue to build on this approach.

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