Nedschroef Machinery in Herentals builds machines that make fasteners, primarily for the automotive and construction sectors. CEO Marc Van Opstal explains why he chose Cloud for Customer with TheValueChain.
“All quotes, their status and the associated email communications are bundled together into one user-friendly system. It’s easier for sales personnel, and clearer for management.”
There are very few people who talk about their business as passionately as Marc Van Opstal. Two years ago, he ascended from Finance & IT manager to CEO of Nedschroef. “We build cold forging machines. Literally: our machines make nuts and bolts, among other things, from steel wire without using heat. They press the steel wire into the required shape.”
“You can machine bolts using lathes and mills, much like a sculptor would. But this produces waste. Our techniques don’t waste anything. We mould the steel. Using only pressure, the steel is forced into a mould with the right shape. A smith needs fire, because he cannot get steel into the right shape using physical strength alone. Our machines can exert up to 800 tons of pressure. They get the steel into the right shape without using heat.”
200 screws per minute
“Our customers show us sketches of what they want. Then our engineers get to work. Most of our customers come from the automotive sector. But we are also active in the construction sector. Our machines are only interesting for customers who use enormous volumes. They produce 200 screws per minute. We are talking about investments from a few hundred thousand to a few million euros.”
Most Admirable Brand
“There are only a few companies in the world doing the same thing as us. We supply 30 to 35 machines per year globally. Germany is our biggest market, because of its thriving automobile industry. We also have a service centre in Detroit. Wherever there is industry, you will find our machines. Since our company was founded we have made more than 2000 machines, of which 1400 are still making products, even though some of them are more than 50 years old.”
“In China we were awarded the Golden Screw in 2016, an award for the Most Admirable Brand. In comparison with the Chinese market, we supply top quality products. Their machines cost one tenth of what ours cost, but the quality, accuracy, speed, etc. are not comparable. You could call us the BMW of cold forging machines.”
“Our machines last for decades. Machines that we built in the sixties are still running. The second-hand market is significant. Some machines are sold on as many as ten times. We don’t see that as a problem. We sell spare parts, or the machines come back to us for maintenance. A large portion of our activities consist of repair or restoration of old machines.”
Following up customers and potential customers
In Herentals, Nedschroef employs 130 people, of whom half are workers and half are support staff, mainly engineers. There are six people in the sales team. “We work with SAP. A customer only appears in the ERP system when they purchase a machine. Our sales personnel used to work with an outdated, messy and incomplete database. They needed a customer relationship management system that also contained information about potential customers.”
Overview with Cloud for Customer
“For us, a traditional CRM system was too large. In our niche market you don’t have thousands of customers, so there was no need for a large, integrated system. We create new customers in our systems manually. However, we did want a clear system to keep a structured record of all customers and potential customers. Cloud for Customer (C4C) gives us this overview and more.”
“Using C4C, we keep a record of which machines are owned by which customers, and we store all information about competing products. Using a simple dashboard, we can quickly see how things stand with regards to leads and quotes.”
All quotes in one system
“For 99% of our needs, the standard application is sufficient. No additional development was required, just configuration. In the future, we can expand or connect C4C with our SAP ERP. But we don’t have to. One advantage is that all quotes and different versions are now bundled in one system. Our machines are never bought on an impulse. A sale takes place over a long period of time. With C4C, we can properly follow up on the status of quotes and structurally keep track of associated information after customer visits.”
“Thanks to the connection with Outlook, we can easily bundle all email communication with each quote. This is also an advantage, since double registration must not occur. Naturally, we can also use the tool to send emails to specific target groups. For example, German customers who recently came to have a look at our machines during a Hausmesse (open house) organised especially for them.”
Ready in 20 days
“We usually wait for a while before upgrading our systems. TheValueChain regularly checked whether the time had come, without being pushy. When they suggested Cloud for Customer, I immediately saw the benefits. The fact that TheValueChain uses the application themselves was the deciding factor for me. A lot of vendors use different systems than they sell. That compromises your credibility.”
“We are happy with the implementation. Often, a senior member of staff will come to sell the product, then a junior will implement it. I’ve worked in the consultancy world, so I know how it works. Nothing like that happened with TheValueChain. They know their trade inside out. They carried out a lean and mean, on-site configuration of the requested specifications in efficient, short workshops. After less than 20 consultancy days, we were finished.”
The Nedschroef group, with its headquarters in the Dutch town of Helmond, is the largest European nut and bolt manufacturer for the truck and car industry. Its history goes back to 1894, when the company started out as a manufacturer of rivets for the shipbuilding industry.
Nedschroef Machinery, based in Herentals, is a subsidiary that focuses on the development and production of tools and moulding machines for the production of metal fasteners such as nuts and bolts. The company has customers all over the world. Nedschroef Machinery is a bit of an outsider in the group, and even supplies machinery to Nedschroef’s competitors for example.
At the Nedschroef Academy, the company offers courses about cold forging. “Cold forging is a skilled profession, and demands years of practical experience. Even most university professors of materials science barely know how the moulding process works. That is why we started providing training at our Academy.”