Discovering the Netherlands

You may be aware that several of the major players in our industry have European facilities in Holland, including Mycronic and Kulicke & Soffa and some of the leading PCB makers are here.

But, it is also home to major multinationals like Tesla, Philips, Bosch, Boeing and ASML, the Netherlands’ high-tech industry is among the most innovative in the world. Fuelled by world-class, open innovation R&D, the sector consists of more than 1,700 firms involved in materials-related research and development in the Netherlands.

I have been very lucky as key people have been interested in joining us at the time when they could have a real impact on company growth.

At the heart of Dutch high-tech innovation are robust public-private partnerships and cutting-edge R&D ecosystems such as the High-Tech Campus in Eindhoven. Considered the smartest square kilometre in the Netherlands, and possibly the world, the campus promotes open innovation and collaboration among more than 100 companies and institutions, including Philips, NXP, IBM and Intel, employing over 10,000 people. A little-known fact is that 90% of silicon chips have their roots in Dutch R & D facilities.

■ Maurits van der Laken and team at Partnertec.

This open approach to research and innovation, combined with an excellent business infrastructure and a highly-educated, dynamic workforce makes the Netherlands an ideal location for high tech business expansion and acceleration.

With its rich history in electronics, high tech materials and data innovation, the Netherlands is a leader in the field of automotive and mobility solutions. From truck platooning and smart charging infrastructure, to power electronics and new materials, the Dutch are developing products and expertise across the value chain that are meeting the challenges of tomorrow.

So, what does this mean to the local electronics supply infrastructure?

I spent some time chatting with local success story to understand how all this innovation feeds local manufacturing.
So Maurits a long time ago there was DEK Benelux from 1997 until 2004 you were General Manager and saw huge growth even this early, then you realised the huge potential in the Benelux and set up your own distribution company. With the support of DEK you quickly gained other principals and very soon had a large portfolio giving you a good basis, but it was a real leap of faith.

Yes, in the early days it was tough, but we established good relationships with the main players and all was going well, until the end of 2007 when the crash came, but orders kept coming and in March 2008 we got a huge order from Philips, but it became tougher, but we kept the relationships with our customers and suppliers.

In 2014, DEK was sold to ASM which was tough thing for us to hear, but it turned into something which has resulted in a huge growth in our business as we were asked to become a distributor for ASM pick and place, the first time we sold this product.

■ Maurits van der Laken.

After being able to work with all the P & P players were you now only able to partner with one, this must have changed your way of working.
Yes, and we had to adapt as we were now an integral part of ASM, but it was actually a big advantage, and this brought us business very quickly. It meant now we could offer complete line solutions and very soon we got our first request for a line solution worth €1.1m which we won and would not have been in the game without ASM. It was a big change for us and a real challenge to our organisation as we had not sold this kind of kit before. However, things took a further turn for the better as two years ago one of the best local P & P sales guys came on board and this plus other key appointments gave us much more strength.

In 2016, we had a great year and in 2017 we doubled this result, so we are doing great in 2018, P and P has made a great difference as did the purchase of a small consumable distribution business in 2012, so we are now a complete solutions provider, with high technology products across the board. This is important for the Benelux market as the companies here invest in quality and reliable products. Customer quality increases year on year and a lot of our business is customers trading up on quality. Companies like Philips are replacing equipment which is less reliable or capable of handling the latest components. As companies need to improve yields and reduce change over and down time to remain competitive.

We continue to grow and have just recruited a new sales engineer, mainly for the consumables business. We will also further improve our customer support system, adding software and management systems, we need to mirror our customer base by becoming even better in what we do. We are looking to be more efficient and also focus on Industry 4.0 solutions and of course the Hermes standard.

Partnertec has a great team spirit, we are now 11 people and probably need to add a few more to round out the organisation, I have been very lucky as key people have been interested in joining us at the time when they could have a real impact on company growth. The whole environment in the Benelux challenges the suppliers, so we invest heavily to keep our skill sets current and the geography also helps as we are close to many of our principals. This allows us to stay close to our customers and stay at the forefront of technology both key requirements for success in this challenging market.

Another key growth area is in our marketing where we are focusing on electronic media and social networks, this keeps our customers in touch with us and our brand is still getting stronger. We have been known in the market for a long time, but this effort is bringing rewards and giving the market details of our success stories and technical information and white papers from our principals too. Our regular newsletter is very widely distributed, and we do all we can to make it interesting and topical.

–Keith Bryant

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