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17th Nov 2015


I went to see them on a crisp November morning in Poznan and chatted to their Product Manager, Radoslaw Berlowski, who told me about the latest happenings in their company and in the Polish industry generally.

What stage are you at with your new building? What was the main reason behind building it? How has it improved the service to your clients?

As you can see the new building is now completely ready. You came just in time as yesterday we received the final permission to move in. In a few weeks we shall move out of the old building from the other side of the road.

We have significantly increased our warehouse and office areas by more than 3 times. The new office area is 1400m2 and the warehouse 1700m2, which also accommodates 3 storage levels.

We have built an automated internal transport system which will collect parts from the whole stock range. If an order comes through before 3pm, we’re able to ship the goods on the same day.

What are your challenges?

We made a big investment in the new warehouse, which includes production machines for cutting, and also chamfering and grinding for linear shafts and rails.

We hope that the new facility will help us to build up our position in the Polish and European markets.

We want to be one of the best suppliers in terms of product availibity, delivery and technical support.

As a distributor, do you feel supported enough by your suppliers?

A good relationship between supplier and customer is a big part of creating a successful business.

We have seen a trend in the past 3 years where all the brands have extended their efforts to be in touch with resellers. They know our customers and they try to understand our daily problems.

We are happy that we receive this kind of support from Accuride.

What was more important to you when choosing your brand partners – well known names that consumers might recognise or the level of support you'd receive from the company?

This may sound odd, but when we started cooperation with Accuride in 2007, we really didn’t know the Accuride brand. We wanted to include some kind of telescopic slide in our portfolio to widen the offer for our clients with different solutions.

In the beginning we didn’t have any expectations about how much support we would get from a supplier. But I am sure today's success could not have been possible without close cooperation and support. Today we cannot imagine Albeco without Accuride.

Do you see yourselves as a MRO (maintenance repair operation) distributor or as a design solutions provider?

We are mainly roller bearing and linear solution suppliers. We work intensively in the MRO market, but we also have a lot of customers where we can suggest a product for a new application.

We can offer an idea, but at the same time we basically deliver components and not always complete solutions.

What effect does the internet have on your business?

We sell plenty of our products thanks to the internet.

We have approx. 40,000 product lines in stock and from our web shop the clients can very easily and quickly find what they need. This is especially important for the MRO market where drop-in replacement parts can be vital to keep a business running.

Our web shop was primarily created for smaller resellers rather than end users or private individuals. But the on-line world is changing very quickly and we need to be able to cover all kind of market sectors and users, so we constantly need to improve.

www.albeco.com.pl

Do you see B2B e-commerce taking over the traditional face-to-face meeting with clients? If not, why not?

I don't know how it is in other countries, but in Poland a few years ago young people used to play outside. Now they are sitting inside chatting and ‘facebooking’ with their friends via the internet.

This trend can also be seen in business. Many clients are looking for ideas and solutions from the net. Nevertheless, we need to remember that when faced with more complicated problems and projects, or when specific technical help is required, people still prefer direct contact.

With B2B clients you still need traditional face-to-face meetings.

Which new technologies do you see having an impact on engineering? What’s new in the engineering world, for example, new products and materials?

In general, the biggest pressure is to reduce the price of the final product.

Manufacturers are trying to use cheaper materials, for example, plastics instead of metal, to provide the same reliability.

Obviously not everything is always possible. But using plastics can reduce the maintenance costs by offering better corrosion resistance and reducing the component weight.

What are the new market sectors or trends you expect in 2016 and what effect would these have on your business?

As I mentioned before, many engineers are changing existing products for low cost versions without compromising the functionality or durability of the product.

Trends in industrial industries don’t change as fast as in the fashion or interior design business. The product life cycles tend to be much longer.

We can sell a bearing that has been around for 40 years and if that is what the customer wants and is happy with – great! But of course we keep in touch with the market changes and client needs and react to them and new ideas accordingly.

How is your market looking in general?

The market is still growing in Poland, with no crises on the horizon.

The Polish gross national product is 3,5%. Albeco’s increase is nearly double of that.

In general we feel that it is harder and harder to employ well educated staff in bigger towns. Foreign companies like VW „wipe” the employee market clean. For example, Amazon has organised transportation for its employees within a 90km radius.

What is your favourite Accuride product and why?

In my opinion, the light duty DZ2431 is my favourite. It has a fabulous smooth movement without any noise and almost no friction.

Our top heavy-duty sellers are the DZ9301 and DZ9308 telescopic slides – suitable for just about any heavy-duty application you may need!

What is the most unusual application you have ever come across?

Accuride has a little marketing gadget – the bottle opener.

It is actually a two-way travel slide and it initiated an industrial application. In a modified version, with steel balls and zinc finish, this slide has been used in a train cabin as a guidance lever for the driver.

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