Van Leeuwen
Smart interaction with suppliers is the basis for a good customer relationship

Smart interaction with suppliers is the basis for a good customer relationship

Simona Prášilíková,
Van Leeuwen, Vyškov, Czech Republic

The revival of the steel market and the global increase in economic growth are resulting in the increased demand for our products. Following a period of contraction, our suppliers are switching gears. That is why we are working with them on proactive solutions designed to avoid extended delivery times and shortages in the stocks of materials for our customers. That is our most important role as a link between customer and tube mill.

As purchasing manager of Van Leeuwen Czech Republic, I am responsible for the procurement of tube material for our local stocks as well as for large orders we deliver to customers directly from the mill. Together with our Purchasing Department I closely monitor the market and our customers’ wishes on a daily basis. The close cooperation with suppliers, with whom we share this knowledge, enables us to consequently close the best deals and avoid a scarcity of materials.

Challenging market conditions

Due to the crisis of prior years, many mills have reduced their production capacity and personnel complement. Now that the demand for steel products is once again growing fast, they are not always able to cope with this demand. That results in longer delivery times. At times there is even a lack of materials, which in turn drives prices upwards. A complex situation that affects the entire sector and that is expected to continue for a while. This is one of the challenges which makes my job so interesting.

Link between mill and customer

I talk to my suppliers on an almost daily basis and closely monitor their developments. Where possible, I establish contact with new suppliers, although this is not as simple as it sounds. The European steel and pipe market is consolidating, and the number of remaining suppliers is steadily decreasing due to acquisitions. Mills are of course also looking for opportunities to further increase their capacity. For example, they are starting to produce larger batches, because this is more efficient. However, mills are becoming less flexible as a result. As a distributor this provides us with new opportunities. Due to our many warehouses in Europe, we function as a buffer to bridge longer periods between two rolling batches. And so, our customers benefit from short deliverytimes nevertheless!

Protectionism of Trump

I expect that the global economy will continue to grow and therefore the demand for steel as well. At the same time, the supply and demand market mechanism is being threatened by protectionism. A very obvious example is of course the import duties mr. Trump has raised on steel products in the USA. As a reaction, Europe has taken anti-dumping measures as well. They fear large quantities of Chinese steel would otherwise be exported  to the EU instead of the USA. This has one positive side effect: because of this artificial stability, European steel mills are once again prepared to invest.

Helping customers by sharing knowledge

Taking everything into account, I am positive about developments in our business. Our role as stockkeeping distributor is more important than ever. By continuously working on a good relationship with our suppliers, we can help thousands of customers with the production of their machines, steel constructions, pipeline systems or any other application. And by sharing ideas with our customers as early as in the design phase, we can help them to improve their production process. For that, our knowledge of possibilities at mills forms the basis!



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