Thursday, November 05, 2009
“Essemtec Benelux Exceeds Our Expectations”
Press release, November 05, 2009
Interview with Peter Müller, Area Sales Manager at Essemtec
In May 2009 Essemtec, the Swiss manufacturer of production systems, founded its own subsidiary Essemtec Benelux on the ruins of bankrupt Contax, its former distributor. The strategy has been successful. After only a few months, the new company is in the black and has realized a profit. Adrian Schärli interviewed Peter Müller, the responsible Area Sales Manager for Essemtec Benelux.
Adrian Schärli (ASC): Contax went bankrupt and the industry is in crisis: Why was this the right time for Essemtec to found a new company?
Peter Müller (PEM): It was the right time because the problem of Contax Benelux was its high fixed costs: administrative duties, which they had to pay to their parent company in England. Basically, we had very good people in the Benelux and the market showed a huge potential. This was an opportunity we did not want to miss.
ASC: The new company was up and running in just one week. How was this possible?
PEM: We could motivate the whole team from Contax Benelux for the new company: Tom Van Tongelen, managing director, and also personnel from administration and service. Therefore, we could start the very next day. We were able to take over open projects, customers and existing orders. Customers have even welcomed the fact that they can now deal with Essemtec directly. With Contax’s bankruptcy, we have lost a little but overall we got off lightly.
ASC: What benefits did you expect from your own subsidiary?
PEM: First, the closed collaboration with our distributors is very important for us. Second, we gained greater proximity to our customers. Third, our brand is strengthened in the market and fourth, we have realized that if people work 100 percent for our products, we gain power in the market.
ASC: How is Essemtec Benelux faring after half a year?
PEM: Very well ― in fact, Essemtec Benelux has exceeded our expectations. The turnover was doubled by the end of September and Essemtec Benelux is in the black.
ASC: How do you explain this success?
PEM: The team can now fully concentrate on our products, and our presence in the media has been strengthened. The Essemtec brand is now better known in the Benelux and customers know about our turnkey solutions.
ASC: Turnkey solutions?
PEM: That means we can provide complete production lines from one source: machines, process and know how. Essemtec Benelux sells our entire product range of printers, pick-and-place systems, dispensers, ovens and handling equipment. Also, special machines are offered: modified standard machines or customer-specific machines designed by Essemtec Solutions. Additionally, Essemtec Benelux sells stencils from Koenen, Germany.
ASC: The subsidiary company seems to have great freedom in the portfolio design?
PEM: Of course, we are a solutions provider. If Essemtec Benelux believes that additional services or products are beneficial for the customer, there shall be no handicap. For example, the stencils from Koenen are very high quality and fit well with our products.
ASC: It appears as if your competitors are not doing as well. What does Essemtec do better than others?
PEM: Today, customers mainly invest in the manufacturing of small to mid-size series, and this is where our machines fit perfectly. Furthermore, we adapt our marketing approach to the local situation; we do not try use the same concept everywhere. This is especially important in a market such as the Benelux because you need to speak the local language. This allows us to provide our expertise to the customers and build up confidence.
ASC: Do you have an example?
PEM: This October we held a print technology seminar near Utrecht, together with Koenen, the stencil manufacturer, and Koki, the leading solder paste supplier. We had more than 45 registrations and visitors from all over the Benelux. This is an example of how we transfer knowledge and innovations: together with industry partners because the SMD process requires all skills including the machine, the process, stencils and paste.
ASC: What is new in printing technology?
PEM: Step stencils are becoming more popular. If you have very different pad sizes on your PCB, then you can achieve much better printing quality with a variable thickness stencil. Previously, such stencils had to be manufactured by welding thinner pieces into a thicker stencil. But today, Koenen has developed a patented process with which step stencils can be produced in one piece.
There is also news of printing machines. At the seminar, we presented the new semiautomatic SP150. This machine has a very good price/performance ratio and is ideal for small and medium batch production. This printer features vision, stencil cleaning and an electronically controlled squeegee pressure regulation like larger printers. We will premier this machine at Productronica in Munich.
ASC: Rumors say that you will present more groundbreaking products at this exhibition. Do you know more about it?
PEM: I do know more about it, yes. It is true that Essemtec is about to start a new era in electronics manufacturing. I recommend that you visit us in booth 358 in hall A3 at the Productronica exhibition in Munich.
ASC: I will for sure do that. And for Essemtec Benelux, what are the next targets?
PEM: We will grow further based on the positive results of the first half year, and we will further strengthen our brand in the market. Additionally, we plan to introduce our solutions in the solar and LED industries. We are sure that we will be able to enthuse many more customers in the Benelux with our solutions.