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34 www. bus- ex. com July 09 Just 15 months ago Aard Mining Equipment emerged from beneath the protective umbrella of mining services giant Boart Longyear. Managing director Alistair McGillivray talks to Gay Sutton about the challenges and excitement of the fi rst year of independence Saltof theearth

Aard Mining Equipment I t was on 1 March 2008 that Aard Mining Equipment came into existence as a self- contained and separate entity, but the company was certainly no newcomer to the industry. It had grown and developed over many years, beginning as a mining equipment maker and then a business unit within the company we know today as Boart Longyear. Boart itself had been a wholly owned subsidiary of Anglo American, but when it was sold to private equity firm Advent in 2006, the decision was made to concentrate on core business activities and divest those that were non- core. " And we were told we were non- core long before we were actually sold," says managing director Alistair McGillivray. After thorough due diligence, the private equity arm of a local South African bank and a black empowerment investment company put up the money, and for around fifteen months now the company has been standing alone. " It has been a great year for us," McGillivray says. " The timing was very fortunate because it took place during the mining boom, and the market has remained very buoyant throughout our first year. The only changes we've had to make within the company are to accommodate growth which has been fairly substantial, and we are in the process of looking for larger premises." The experience has been liberating both for the company and its staff, putting an end to the uncertainty of the previous two years. And the normalisation process has been helped considerably by the development of a true company identity. The name aard is an old Afrikaans word meaning " earth"- most appropriate for a mining equipment company. " When we were looking for names, the first few names we chose were already taken, and I have to say they were fairly generic, uninspiring names," McGillivray explains. But it was one of the local employees who suggested using the word aard, which had, by sheer happenstance, become closely associated with the company." Way back in the early 1990s one of its products, a small load haul dumper ( LHD), had been affectionately given the name " Aardvark" by its users. " It was a very descriptive name. It was a small underground load haul dumper that scurried around. Then as we developed the product line, we began to give our products the name Aard something. For example, we developed the Aard Major, which was a slightly bigger LHD, and the Aard Master, which was a drill rig. So Aard essentially became a product name. And it has become a much better name for us as a company than any of the generic names we could have chosen." Aard also benefitted significantly from the fact that it had been allowed to operate fairly autonomously within Boart Longyear- or as McGillivray describes it, as an orphan child. Many of Aard's customers had watched the sale of the July 09 www. bus- ex. com 35