Over the last five years Bodegraven Metaal has experienced continuous expansion, establishing itself as a key player in the threaded rod market. Editor Will Lowry spoke to Managing Director Martijn Wirken about this meteoric growth and the challenges it brings.
Bodegraven Metaal NV (also known as BOMET) has been located in Lommel, Belgium, since 1981 and specialises in the production of threaded rods DIN 976-1 and associated products. The company supplies a whole range from M3 to M60 in lengths of 1m, 2m and 3m, as well as cut to size – exporting across Europe and around the world.
“Since BOMET was founded there has been continuous reinvestment into the business and its capacity for production,” explains Martijn. “This has helped us grow within the market and build a reputation as the leading supplier for threaded rod.”
From 2014 onwards, BOMET experienced substantial double-digit growth year-on-year. “Due to our ability to produce high-quality products in the heart of Europe, with a quick and reliable service, we have achieved growth every year, which culminated in significant growth last year,” states Martijn. “However, this unprecedent growth was far beyond what we had predicted and when combined with geopolitical impacts, as well as the supply of raw material, it led to delivery and production challenges towards the end of the year.”
To combat this BOMET has invested €4.5 million in additional machinery, as well as more production and storage space, which has enabled it to get back on track and reach the high supply performance its customers demand. “We added an extra 9,000m2 of space for storage, packaging and cutting, which was crucial,” explains Martijn. “A key factor in our growth, and the reason customers bought material from us, was our service levels. Therefore, it was vital we continued to supply this level of service to enable us to grow together with our clients.”
Cutting to size
Included in BOMET’s investment is a separate building dedicated to specials and cutting threaded rod to specific sizes for individual projects. “You will find almost every wholesaler will say they have their own cutting department and that they can cut to length according to customers’ needs,” mentions Martijn. “However, our strong point is we can be very competitive, because we have the capability to cut to different sizes very quickly. We can either produce to size, which can take up to 5 – 6 weeks, or we can cut to size and deliver it in 2 – 3 days. If we produce it to size it will be in price per tonne or per 100 pieces, whereas cutting to size is a little bit more expensive due to the quick turnaround.”
Martijn adds: “We can also tailor what we deliver depending on the customer’s needs. For instance, if they have a project for 50,000 pieces, which they need in four months, we can produce it. However, if they need the products in 2 or 3 weeks, we can just cut it to size from production. We have seen a huge increase in demand for the latter in recent years and our ability to run two shifts has helped us offer short delivery times and means customers get their products sooner.”
The quality factor
When it comes to threaded rod, quality is a key factor and something BOMET takes very seriously. “If we deliver a product, we have tested it and we have fully checked it,” reports Martijn. “We have our own laboratory where we can carry out chemical analysis and tensile testing of the material, as well as check layer thickness with X-ray. Plus, we have a profile projector and hardness tester, as well as a range of other state of the art equipment. We also track every batch of raw material and we have a quality system that ensures we have full traceability of the product that goes to our clients.”
Martijn continues: “The key factor with threaded rod is you don’t necessarily know where it is going to be used – it could be an easy installation or it could be in a critical application. That is why we only supply products according to standard, so customers can use it anywhere – there is no compromise.”
Previously there have been concerns within the market regarding threaded rod and products not being according to standard. “Companies were being supplied with lower quality threaded rod that had a different pitch of thread, to save on raw material costs, but these products were not to standard and were potentially dangerous,” states Martijn. “At BOMET we have never and will never compromise on the quality of the product and always guarantee it is according to standard.”
“We are therefore very vocal about the differences in these ‘b grade’ products. I am not saying they are not useable, because you can use it for certain non-critical applications. However, they are not to standard and there is a difference in strength and how the threaded rod behaves, which could have huge repercussions. Suppliers often don’t know the applications the wire rod is being used and if the rod is not to standard it is a risk. The bigger wholesalers and end users are now aware of the differences, but there is still a huge percentage of ‘b grade’ threaded rod imported into Europe.”
Optimising the process
As a manufacturer based in Europe, BOMET is focused on producing the highest quality products in the most efficient and effective method possible. “Selling threaded rod on a pallet is quite easy, but producing threaded rod is one by one, and this needs to be continuous if it is going to be cost efficient,” explains Martijn. “You therefore need your production to be constantly running. The strength of BOMET is we produce from our own production plant into our warehouse, which helps us make sure we always have enough stock to deliver. We look to develop long-term cooperation with customers so that we can guarantee consistent production and maintain the competitive price level we are able to deliver.”
Another vital part of the production process is the coating procedure, with BOMET having a close relationship with the coating company Duroc NV, which helps it offer real benefits regarding zinc plating. “If we need to get some material urgently coated then we can give Duroc a call and, because we have the connection and the relationship, we are able to get finished products back quickly,” points out Martijn. “This helps us control the risks and control the stocks, which makes it easier for us to operate and deliver to customers.”
For customers that have an annual volume of over 400 tonnes per year BOMET is also able to provide a private label service for a whole range of products. “Offering the private label service is about making it easier for our customers,” mentions Martijn. “We also change our inventory according to their needs so we are not producing to order, we produce to demand. We have a lot of key customers that are taking advantage of this service and it is something we are looking to develop in the future.”
BOMET has plans to continue investing in the business with the company setting up another production plant in Europe. “We want to reduce the risk of only having one production plant for our bigger clients,” explains Martijn. “Having two production sites will help us increase our capacity and enable us to optimise our production. It will also mean we can be even more competitive on what we already do.”
Another big project for BOMET is the introduction of a new web portal, which will enable customers to see stock and price levels, 24 hours a day. “We have been working on the system for over a year, as we needed to change a lot of article numbers and make sure it fully works with our inventory,” points out Martijn. “Once it is launched the web portal will provide all the information our customers need so they can order online via a computer, laptop or even their mobile phone. Private label customers will also be able to see their own stock standing, so they can adapt really quickly on their supply demand. It has been a big challenge for us, but we needed to introduce the system to keep up with the needs of our customers.”
Martijn concludes: “All our investments across the business are about keeping up with demand, consistently producing a high-quality product, and ensuring we offer a complete service to customers. By doing this we can grow with our customers and continue to lead the market in threaded rod.”
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.