Bell celebrates a record number of long service achievements

Published: 05 December 2018

Globally Bell Equipment has two-hundred and seventy-five employees who achieved long service awards in 2018 – the largest group in the history of the company. One hundred and ninety-eight are based at the Richards Bay factory and celebrated earlier this month at a traditional luncheon ceremony at Zululand Chamber of Business Foundation’s Community Park.

The presentation of a 40-year award to Brian Percival, a Machine Tool Specialist in the Machine Shop, was a highlight of the afternoon that was marked by a standing ovation by his colleagues in recognition of a lifetime of service. The other awardees included 176 employees with 10-years of service, two with 20-years of service and 15 employees with 30-years of service.

Bell Equipment Group Chief Executive Officer, Leon Goosen, paid tribute to the group: “On behalf of the board, management and all 3 230 team members, thank you for your commitment and dedication to the company over the years.”

He also thanked the Bell family and acknowledged the important role played by employees’ partners by referring to the Bell motto ‘strong reliable machines, strong reliable support’. “Without dedicated and proper support, even the best machines in-field are just not good enough. Using this analogy, our Bell team members are the strong reliable machines, and the strong reliable support is provided by the supportive wives, husbands and partners. It is important that we recognise this, so from me, the directors, and all our other Bell team members, we thank this special group for their dedicated support.”

Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Lethukuthula Shezi, a Full-time Shop Steward who celebrated his 10-year anniversary, reminisced about his childhood in Madedeni (Newcastle) where the local municipality used a Bell Tractor pulling a container to collect refuse. “When we were doing art as boys, we would make this tractor and the container out of wire and then we would go around picking up waste. When I joined Bell Equipment as a welder I was physically in the plant that manufactures equipment that I thought came from overseas.”

Thirty-year awardee, Bhola Wudraj, an Expeditor in Axle Fabrication said: “Bell Equipment has played a significant role in my life for the past 30 years and it helped me mature, gain experience and become the responsible individual that I am today. My heartfelt and sincere appreciation and thanks goes out to the Bell family for awarding me this opportunity 30 years ago.

Another 10-year award recipient, Mandla Manqele, a Welder in the BAE Workshop, recalled arriving at the factory as a learner welder and his experience the first time he handled a welding machine. “Today I am no longer a learner welder, I am a Level 3 welder and today is the day for celebration. I would like to thank the Almighty. It’s because of Him that we are all here. And I also thank the Bell family because it’s due to their vision that we are here today. I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me to grow into the man I am today.”

Ruth Adams, a Cutting Operator in Mat Prep with 10 years of service, said: “I started my journey at Bell in 2004 as a contractor, working as a workhand assisting a bending operator. Within three years I was promoted to a bending operator. In 2010 I was moved to the lasers. I had no idea where to start but I took each day as it came, willing to take on this new challenge and learn something completely new. Within the next couple of weeks, I became the master of the laser machines.

“Today I stand here and I am honoured to be part of the Bell family. I wear my uniform proudly each day knowing that I am going to work and make a difference. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow and develop in this company. I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else but exactly where I am today. We say thank you Bell Equipment for giving us 10 great years!”

Director of Engineering, Pieter Goosen, has been with Bell for 20 years and said: “Over the last 20 years I’ve seen and been a part of some amazing growth that has happened in terms of new technology and new products, new systems, factory expansions into Europe and going global. It’s been a privilege to have been a part of what’s happened within Bell these past 20 years.

“The one thing I’ve enjoyed the most at Bell were the times I spent with Peter Bell in the cab doing software design. It was such a humbling experience to see him getting so excited, like a child with a new toy, every time we were able to control the truck doing something new. It was really exciting and made me want to stay at Bell and not even go home.

“So often I get the opportunity to take customers and suppliers through the factory and as you walk through there you are really bursting with pride to be part of the factory and everything that happens in there. This is a South African company started on a small farm and it is really unique.”

The 20, 30 and 40-year employees and partners were taken on a tour of the factory by our Group Chairman, Gary Bell, Group CEO, Leon Goosen, and Director: Group Human Resources, JJ van Wyngaardt.

30-year awardee, Bruce Calverley (left), and his wife, Mary, take time for a photo with 40-year awardee, Brian Percival (right), and his wife, Patty, during the traditional factory tour.