Graeme Cooper appointed MD of WD Hearn Machine Tools

WD Hearn Machine Tools, one of the oldest and largest machine tool companies in South Africa, offering a wide agency portfolio that covers virtually all metalworking and metrology needs, have announced that Graeme Cooper, son of owner Ray Cooper, has been appointed Managing Director, taking over from his father who will now take up the position of Chairman of the group of companies under the umbrella of Drury Machine Tools and includes WD Hearn Machine Tools and Lead Machine Tools.

In his announcement about the structural transition at WD Hearn Machine Tools and sent to staff, customers and suppliers, Ray Cooper said he sincerely thanks all his business associates, staff, customers, friends and family that have supported him over his journey of selling and supporting machine tools.

“It has been a truly memorable trip for me. There are too many occasions and instances for me to single out any as I have been around for some time and will still remain passionately involved with the industry. Besides the technological advances in general life, I have been fortunate to witness the great strides that have taken place in our metalworking industry,” quipped Ray Cooper.

The new MD of WD Hearn Machine Tools Graeme Cooper with Ray Cooper, who will now be the chairman of the group

“I served my apprenticeship and training in Coventry in the UK, where I qualified as a jig and tool design engineer. After some work experience I decided South Africa could be a great place to live and I arrived here in 1972 with a wife, two daughters and 10 English pounds in my pocket.”

“Fortunately I found work relatively quickly at Plessey in Cape Town, working as a project engineer. After three years I moved to WD Hearn Machine Tools, a company that I have been with since 1975 and now own.”

“The company’s origins stem from 1937 when it was started by the well decorated Brigadier W.D. Hearn, the late Officer Commanding of The Queen’s Own Cape Town Highlanders. The Brigadier was one of the Frontiersmen from the Manchester Squadron who served with the 9th Belgian Lancers in 1914, receiving the Ysier Medal from the King of the Belgians.”

“After WD’s retirement the company had various owners up until 1985 before myself, Don Brenton, George Mills and Bob Hamilton acquired the company in a ‘management buy-out’ after we realised that our futures were insecure.”

“Myself and George Mills were eventually the sole directors of the company until 2015 when George retired and I took full ownership of the company.”

“I will continue try to add value to the company and guide Graeme as he takes full control of running the company as Managing Director.”

“I would like to express my absolute thanks and gratitude to Ray for his mentorship as a boss, friend and father over past 20 years of my business career and I guess the 20 years before that. He has had to listen to my anxieties every lunch time while serving my apprenticeship, and then again having the patience to listen to all my gripes and weird ideas, while I was working my way up at WD Hearn.”

“Ray’s guidance with wisdom, calmness, fairness, strength and humour has set a near perfect foundation for me and the company to grow from. I can’t express enough how much I have valued, and continue to value, working with and learning from Ray. It has meant the world to me.”

“I often reflect on our special relationship and I wish it could go as it was, forever; but such is life, change is the only constant. The regular travelling to the Far East and Europe visiting factories, strategising on what to sell and what not to sell, whom we want to represent and not, the memories created will be with me forever, and I sincerely hope that Ray and I have a couple more trips together in the coming years.”

“With the base that Ray has laid for the company I know that we can take the company to even greater heights and strengths, together, over the coming years.”

“I look forward to creating new memories and adventures together with everyone, and most importantly I want us to enjoy what we are doing, this is one of the biggest lessons we can all take from Ray, work hard and play hard.”

WD Hearn Machine Tools has offices in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg. The company represents companies such as Kitamura Machinery, Renishaw, Mitsubishi Electric, Siemens, LK Metrology, MAG USA, Fermat, FFG Group (Rambaudi, Jobs, Sigma, Hessapp, Huller, Boeringer), Flow Waterjet, Leadwell, Ermaksan, Starrett, Mahr, InspecVision, Scantech and Sanco, selling and servicing a range of CNC machine tools, measuring equipment and engineering accessories.

For further details contact WD Hearn on TEL: 021 5345351 or visit