Forward integration: “Multifix develops with the customer”

Forward integration: “Multifix develops with the customer”

“We are shifting more and more towards complex assemblies. Through this forward integration, we help our customer with their increasing complexity, but the work also remains interesting for us.”

Arno Heesters is Commercial Director at Multifix, he was the first employee at the time and was allowed to set up the sale of fasteners. A lot has changed since then, the relationship with the customer is also based increasingly on knowledge: “Even though it’s their product, they ask us for advice and support. That is a compliment.”

How did Multifix perform this forward integration?

“We started in the late 1980s as a wholesaler of stainless steel fasteners, later we expanded to other metals and special fasteners. Because we imported a lot from the Far East, we increasingly received questions from customers whether we could also manufacture in that region for them. At the end of the 1990s, we started to focus on the production of metal components, in addition to selling fasteners.”

“In 2000, we founded Multifix Special Products, to shape this forward integration. Since then, that division has grown rapidly, mostly for customers with whom we have been doing business for a long time. Specials is now the largest division within the Multifix Group, the products have also become a lot more complex over time. We have high-quality components, according to the customer’s tailormade specification and according to their own test protocol.”

When did you decide to also start assembling?

“We noticed that customers were using our components to assemble their products, we could of course do that for them. At that time, we were thinking about who we ‘are’ and what value we wanted to add. Because if you don’t add value as a company, you are doomed. During the crisis of 2008, we viewed all our divisions from a strategy perspective and determined the basic shape of what Multifix is now.”

“We therefore wanted to complete our services with the assembly of mechanical and mechatronic components. A few years ago, we took over the company Essit and renamed it Multifix Assembly. From a strategic point of view, we have therefore gone from nut to end product, but we can also do everything in between. Including logistics and quality.”

Did you also develop in fasteners?

“Indeed, within the Fasteners division we have also started Windfix, fasteners for wind turbines. It is a separate company, because it often concerns large projects with very different types of customers, often global multinationals. It is also an unpredictable market in distant countries, especially in China, India and currently Russia.”

“The fasteners are still important to us, it is the foundation of Multifix. We have also expanded our added value from our network in this market, fasteners are ideal for market penetration and as a starting point for forward integration. It is more difficult to start assembly directly with a new customer, you have to build up and expand trust slowly.”

Which markets does Multifix target?

“Our focus sectors are internal and external transport, agriculture, healthcare, food processing and renewable energy. We already have customers in those sectors, from whom we have learned a lot. We do not supply our own product, we provide a service where we put the customer first. We take away the concerns of the customer so that they can focus on their core business. We don’t call that ‘unburdening’ (‘ontzorgen’ in Dutch), I hate that word, haha.”

“I have been with Multifix since 1991, I started here immediately after High School. I knew the founder Arthur Burgmans, he asked if I wanted to set up the sale of fasteners. I decided to try it; if it didn’t work out, I could still go back to school. It has always been challenging, there was always something new. We are an ambitious and dynamic company and as long as we keep doing new things, I will stay on board.”