Arthur Burgmans is director of Multifix, the company he founded in 1988. His motto at the time? No does not exist. “If a customer called on Saturday evening for bolts he needed on Sunday, I would bring them before midnight.”
Arthur’s drive forms the basis for Multifix’s success, his motto has become the company’s trademark. By constantly pushing boundaries – literally and figuratively – Multifix expanded its range, the customer base became larger and the workforce also grew rapidly. Multifix Group now consists of four divisions, the company has four branches and 400 employees.
How were the first years of Multifix?
“Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My grandfather was the founder of Bouwbedrijf Burgmans; all of his children eventually started their own company, nobody was surprised that I got involved in entrepreneurship after high school.”
“I liked the trade in fasteners. I was able to build relationships with the companies I had as customers. I listened carefully to their wishes and wanted to provide optimal service for them. That’s why I didn’t sell “NO”, I did everything in my power to satisfy the customer. “
“In 1995 a windmill factory started in the Northern Netherlands, for which we supplied the fastening materials. The Netherlands was far ahead of its time, but unfortunately the company soon went bankrupt due to the rigid regulations. The molds of their blades went all over the world after the bankruptcy. That offered opportunities to us, because the buyers also wanted our fasteners. That’s how we ended up in Asia.”
“When I traveled to China for the first time, I immediately recognized: this is the place to be! We opened a branch in Hong Kong, but later moved to Shanghai because the metal industry is more strongly represented there. We were pioneers and ventured into uncharted territory. I also took quite a bit of risk, but I believed 100% that it would succeed. Doing business with China was still very unusual in the 1990s.”
Did the quality immediately meet your standards?
“The quality of materials and products from China has improved enormously in the past twenty years, but that did not happen automatically. In the beginning we had to constantly insist on our quality standards, which the suppliers were not used to. If they delivered something that wasn’t right, they’d rather give a discount. We now have an extremely reliable network of professional suppliers and the quality control is optimal.”
“The early years of Multifix were a wonderful time, we were a small group of hard-working people. There was a lot of stress because of the growth, but you get used to that. We are no longer a small club now, but we are still working hard and the team spirit is still very important.”
“As a director I no longer determine all the details myself, we now have a management team for that. I can indicate whether I agree with plans or not. That requires some adjustment, because letting go is not my strongest trait, but this new approach also brings a lot. I now have the time to get to know all the people who work here better, for example. I regularly walk around the warehouse to chat. I think that is very important, because the people make the difference here.”
How do you see the future?
“As an entrepreneur I constantly focus on new opportunities in the market. I will continue to do so, it is very important for the continuity of the company. I have a good feeling whether we can do something with the things I notice, but also with the people that cross my path. They are Multifix’s most important capital.”
“When I told my uncle Jan at the time that I was going into the fastening materials, he was not really enthusiastic: ‘so many businesses already do that’. But with the right attitude it worked! “
“Knowledge is important, but only when you are really working on it 24/7 and really go for it, it will get off the ground. We have proven that with Multifix.”