With a track record extending more than 60 years in the sales, hire and servicing of construction equipment for the mining, quarrying, construction, petrochemical, material handling, road building and forestry industries in southern Africa, Babcock required an individual who could uphold the company’s promise of ‘trusted to deliver’ – it seems that the company has found this in Derek Smythe, who intends to “grow the business footprint by providing a platform for future growth into new markets and industries simultaneously creating a strong team of motivated people at the top of their game, proudly building the Babcock name as the leading distributor of world class construction equipment brands.”
Babcock currently operates throughout Southern Africa with a client base spread across the mining, construction and industrial supply industries, ranging from world class mining clients to small start-up mining entities, large construction companies, smaller contractors, plant hire and other related industrial companies. The company provides a range of services from sales / supply of construction equipment, mobile cranes, welding and construction plant. A full range of value add services and support, including full maintenance contracts, warranty support, component rebuilds, unit refurbishments, operator training and many other services are provided in support of customers.
The Equipment business unit that Derek fronts is the exclusive distributor for Volvo Construction Equipment and Winget concrete handling equipment in Southern Africa. Babcock also holds the exclusive distribution for SDLG Construction Machinery in Southern Africa. In addition, Babcock distributes the well known Tadano crane range. The industrial arm of the business provides aftermarket support for the full range of Volvo Penta Industrial engines and Lincoln welding machines and related consumables. The current total staff complement of the Equipment business is 440, with current plans to grow this to over 500 in the coming year as some of the opportunities in the pipeline industry materialise.
Derek Smythe’s wealth of experience in the ‘yellow metal ’ industry gained over the last 30 years working as an engineer at a KZN quarry and a local construction equipment manufacturer, where he excelled as a hands on manager, with experience gained from the shop floor, to main board level together with his vast international exposure within the industry, will bring in a new dynamic to the Babcock business.
A believer of giving something back to the community in which one lives, Derek participates at board level with Zikulise Community Upliftment Project, an NPO based in Empangeni that provides skills to enable rural people to develop into micro entrepreneurs within their own communities.
In his role as CEO, Derek will be responsible for ensuring compliance with all Babcock Safety, Health, Environmental, Risk and Compliance requirements (SHERQ), leading and challenging his experienced team to achieve the goals and aspirations of the main board, shareholders and all stakeholders. His mandate is to grow the overall business, through increasing existing product lines, outlets and distribution channels, to improve internal efficiency and servicing the customer base more effectively.
Derek Smythe was adamant in saying, “This is an intensely customer centric business so I intend to utilise my skills in building people relationships, conceptualising opportunities, and bringing them to fruition as revenue generating activities. I will be guiding my leadership team to meet the challenges and opportunities of operating in the ever changing South African business environment. Our challenge is to create wealth for our shareholders, stakeholders and the entire Babcock team, as we focus on ‘blue sky opportunities’ that will add value to our customers and the business growth targets into the future.”