Mining’s young guns Crushing their way to the top

BG Holdings has been crushing it in their first year

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BG Holdings has been crushing it in their first year, with better than expected year-end financials, giving charismatic directors Zack Beukman and Brett Pritchard plenty to smile about.

In fact business is going so well that they’ve had to turn down some lucrative tenders in order to maintain their high standards. The worst thing that any new start-up can do is accept every new job, thus spreading themselves too thin and ultimately hurting their reputation.Both directors encapsulate the next generation of boardroom mavericks who fully embrace holistic skills development and employee satisfaction, coupled with a tireless work ethic. Beukman and Welshman Pritchard met on the hallowed turf of Hamilton’s rugby club. Pritchard was immediately impressed with Beukman’s leadership skills, who at the time was enjoying a flourishing career as a lawyer for a large law firm in Cape Town.Pritchard explains how the two met: “It started with us playing for Hamilton’s Rugby Club and he showed good leadership skills, he was actually our captain. I definitely saw something within Zack that I wanted to take forward into friendship. We chatted for a long time and back and forth it went for quite a few months. Then when I presented him with a small offer to jump onboard, the transition didn’t take long for him to finally come across full time.”

Bumper first year

BG Holdings have enjoyed a bumper first year in business with demand outstripping supply, which is the ideal scenario for any new business venture, not to mention in the volatile mining sector. Pritchard goes on to outline some of the challenges and the opportunities they have encountered thus far.“Currently the main challenges are in asset finance, in generating enough finances to actually conduct the work that you have on the table, because we’re two young guys in the industry and we’re finding work left, right and centre. Some good work, some bad work but in general there’s a lot of work on the table and it’s quite difficult to service that without the correct funding.”Beukman adds: “Our problem has never been getting clients or getting work, we were lucky to be profitable from very early on, it was purely a matter of getting the right assets to carry out the work that we need to carry out. We had our first contract before we actually had our first machine, and we have luckily grown to a place where we don’t have to scramble and run around anymore.But in order to take on the bigger and more lucrative work you need to make sure you’ve got the assets to produce the work.”Mining is often seen as an Old Boys Club, and breaking into some of those circles can be difficult for start-ups that are big on ambition but with limited experience. Refreshingly enough, they have not found it difficult to pick up new business, making new connections and learning from some of the old guard

First impressions

Pritchard reflects: “Not too bad actually, it’s a perception in life: there’s a lot of markets, a lot of industries that you potentially feel you can’t have access to but it comes back to two youngsters, hard work, lots of time, effort, and persistence and it allows you to break into that market and eventually you get there.”Beukman adds: “I found the majority of clients and suppliers in the markets have been very open to giving advice, to giving us a chance, to lend a hand here and there and sometimes you’ve got to repay that favour to them by giving them work and giving them better rates and being a bit flexible. The challenge has been being young, you’re often seen as inexperienced and the guys across the table are people who have years of experience behind their names. They soon find out that you can produce a service and if you’re professional and can back up what you say, then there’s no problem. Also, special thanks our suppliers who have worked magic for us thus far: Innovexx, RDK Plant and Pilot Crushtec.”

Key differentiator

Being young, full of energy and eager to make their mark, no job is too big or small for this team. And Beukman believes that is the key differentiator in the growth of the business thus far.“It is an industry where a lot of guys have done very well and there’s a lot of very, very big work out there, there’s also smaller pieces of that pie that some people aren’t interested in.We’ve never shied away from any work. Sometimes we get the big jobs as a result of that, you can do a smaller project for someone and if you perform well enough the next time they’ve got something big on the table they will look to you.”

Flexibility

In the modern era of mining technology, speed and mobility is everything. BG Holdings have focused on making their entire crushing and screening equipment mobile, giving them the ability to do business wherever the need arises.“Depending on your operational requirements we can have the relevant and adequate plant transported and set up ready to provide material within two days,” says Pritchard proudly.Beukman adds: “We have been working hard with an app developer to create an app specifically for our operations to monitor and record every aspect of our business, from our operations on site to employee hours and financial information. We are hoping to incorporate this into our business in the very near future and expect to see a big improvement in terms of control and forecasting trends as a result of it.”

Skills development

You can have the best equipment and systems in place, but if your staff are not fully trained and engaged in the project you are not going to get the best out of them. Beukman is all about treating his staff well and with respect in order to achieve the best results. A prime example of this is their “employee of the month” acknowledgement.“Getting the right staff was something we took really seriously and you’ve got to put a lot of trust in your staff, so we’ve tried to do it as differently as we can, we’ve really tried to have a better relationship with them, pay them better and make sure that we are continuously developing their skills. For example, when you send someone out to the Eastern Cape and he lives in Cape Town, sending his family up there every now and then to go and visit him and making sure he’s got all the relevant certificates, licenses and training that he needs and then hoping you get the best out of him because of that.”Pritchard adds: “They’re extremely happy working for us and this is not just because we’re doing an interview now, but we have pride in our business and look after our own, it’s such a pleasure to say we actually do look after our people.

Agility

Being a small business BG Holdings is able to act more swiftly and decisively than the larger companies that have become a little plump around the midrift. “It’s the simple fact that we’ve dealt with big companies who can’t make decisions, you’re dealing with someone who’s got red tape all around him, and we’ve definitely seen the benefit in having a smaller team,” says Beukman.Speaking of red tape there’s a fair amount in South Africa’s mining and obviously Beukman’s background in law must help.“There’s places you can trip up all around you, and you need to make sure that you do your homework before you go in, you can’t just run in blindly and chuck machines on sites, you need to make sure that procedures are in place. Clients are often demanding and they want results and they want production to start straightaway.”

Mining in Wales

Pritchard is from the once mining superpower of Wales, which has slowly moved away from a mining dependent economy in the last 30 years. What is the state of mining in Wales currently?“It’s quite interesting, we’ve been looking at opportunities in Wales. I was back a few months ago and an opportunity presented itself when one of my close family friends who has an underground mine there—an anthracite mine—which is currently non-operational for certain reasons, approached us. It has presented us with an opportunity which we are speaking to the guys in South Africa about.

Advice to mining’s next generation

The two boardroom prodigies end off with some advice they’d give to other youngsters looking to start their own business in the mining sector.Pritchard says: “Do your homework, and get as much work as you can under the belt and work hard, and don’t think any mountain is too big to climb, get stuck in, really enjoy what you do and surround yourself with good people.”The knowledgeable Beukman concludes: “People are the most important asset of your business and you need to make sure that the people around you are reliable and can help you grow.One of our guiding principles is to always find a way, to just start.So many people have such great ideas and energy but their ideas never take off because they never give themselves a chance.”

 

 

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