Van Leeuwen
Van Leeuwen invests a lot in product knowledge

Van Leeuwen invests a lot in product knowledge

Chris Taekema
Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Zwijndrecht

Product expertise is one of our core values. Therefore, Van Leeuwen invests a lot in keeping the knowledge of its staff about tube products and applications up-to-date. In this way, customers can be assured that they get the right product for their application. Product knowledge is mainly built up by experience. Luckily, most of our employees are loyal to the company for many years, so a lot of knowledge remains available. However, at a certain moment, the highly experienced colleagues retire from work. In this blog. Chris Taekema (37) explains about how we secure the continuity of product knowledge.

I started at Van Leeuwen 9 years ago as a purchaser. In this role, I learned a lot about our products already. Two years ago I switched from purchase to sales. I now serve customers in the steel construction market. Last year, I was appointed as product specialist for hollow sections as well.

Square and rectangular hollow sections

For all main product groups and material treatments we have appointed product specialists at Van Leeuwen in Zwijndrecht. These specialists take care of continuing the product knowledge in our company and keeping it up-to-date. My specialism is the product group square and rectangular hollow sections. They can be hot formed according to EN 10210 or cold formed according to EN 10219.

For the way how to deepen my knowledge I have made a plan. Van Leeuwen makes the required time and resources available. The importance of investing in product knowledge is self-evident at Van Leeuwen!

Optimal advice for our customers

In the end, we only have one goal with maintaining and expanding our knowledge: to serve our customers in the best way possible. Helping them to find the right pipe, tube, fitting or flange that meets their specifications and required delivery time.

As product specialist, I am the central contact person for all my colleagues who have a customer question about “my” product that goes beyond their knowledge. In this way, I put my knowledge at the service of all my colleagues and help to improve our collective knowledge.  I also give advice for the composition of our stock assortment and for new purchase specifications. By talking to customers daily, I know a lot about their demands. When these demands change, we adjust our supply accordingly!

Building up knowledge in theory and practice

I gain a lot of knowledge in practice. I sell to customers in the steel construction market daily, where a lot of hollow sections are used. Right now a lot of distribution centers are being built in the Netherlands, in which hollow sections are applied. I already booked a number of these projects and managed them from start to finish. That really added a lot to my knowledge.

I also gained practical knowledge by visiting mills that produce hollow sections. The difference between hot and cold formed hollow sections - an important topic in this product group - becomes a lot clearer when you see how they are made. Moreover, I plan to accompany an inspector who performs additional material tests on hollow sections.

I have expanded my theoretical knowledge by studying the Euronorm standards for hollow sections. I know what possibilities the standards offer when customers have special or additional requirements for this product. I also attended a special training for hollow sections at one of our main suppliers.

Frequently asked questions

A square or rectangular hollow section may seem a simple product, but customers can have a lot of different and often technical requirements. One of the most frequently asked questions concerns the corner radius. That is because this radius is different for hot and for cold formed hollow sections. It is specified in the applicable standard EN 10210 and EN 10219. I can explain this difference and illustrate why, for example, the corner radius of a hot formed hollow section 100 x 100 x 8 mm is sharper than the corner radius of the same dimension in cold formed execution.
Questions about other dimensional tolerances also pop up frequently. For hollow sections, this means for example tolerances on straightness, torsion or on wall thickness. Small deviations are allowed, but the Euronorm exactly specifies what is OK and what is not. This knowledge is on top of my mind.

Not only technical questions come along. Commercial questions about availability of hollow sections are also important. When customers ask for a hollow section with an unusual dimension or specification that we cannot offer from stock, I know which mills to contact for production possibilities. Also, I can advise an alternative product that we do stock.

Product specialism has made my job even more interesting and challenging. I am proud to be able to help colleagues to offer the best possible service to our customers.

Do you have a question or would you like more information about hollow sections? Please contact us here.



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