Hardware and more: Passing on knowledge

Interview with Achim Heyne, Managing Director of api GmbH

Api Non Plus Ultra Training
Non Plus Ultra Training

As a wholesaler of IT hardware, api GmbH based in Baesweiler near Aachen not only supplies its customers with products but also with services – and, last but not least, with knowledge. For managing director and founder Achim Heyne, this is a logical consequence of a 30-year success story. In an interview with Wirtschaftsforum, he explains why.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Heyne, you are also the founder of api. How long has the company been around?

Achim Heyne: I started distributing IT hardware during my apprenticeship in 1992. In 1993, I opened a retail store and founded api a year later. So, this year marks 30 years in the market for us.

Wirtschaftsforum: How has the company developed during this time?

Achim Heyne, Managing Director of api GmbH
Achim Heyne, Managing Director of api GmbH

Achim Heyne: We are now present at eleven locations in Germany, as well as in the Netherlands and France. api employs 850 staff members, in addition to another 100 with temporary employment contracts. Our annual turnover amounts to 1.3 billion EUR. With one exception, we have grown every year, even this year, although the times are not easy for anyone in light of the Ukraine war and the preceding coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus period was mixed, but overall okay for us. Retail stores and supermarkets were closed, but we recorded strong demand in the home office sector.

Wirtschaftsforum: Please tell us about your portfolio.

Achim Heyne: It encompasses more than 100,000 hardware products. In addition to sales, we offer services for our customers. These include network configurations, selecting the right products, laser engraving names on laptops, as well as fulfillment for our customers, meaning we take care of delivery to the end customer for them. Our clients are system integrators, internet retailers, retail chains, Amazon, and other e-tailers and electronics stores.

The corporate headquarters of api in Baesweiler
The corporate headquarters of api in Baesweiler
Api - Fully Automated Warehouse
Flexibility and high availability: The fully automated warehouse

Wirtschaftsforum: In your opinion, what have been the success factors for api after 30 years in the market?

Achim Heyne: In 2016, we moved into our new office and logistics complex in Baesweiler. Here, we have a highly automated warehouse with an extremely high storage capacity and availability, which allows us to deliver very flexibly and reliably. In the company, we have short paths of communication. Our customers always have direct contact through a dedicated contact person. There is a substitute for him, and another substitute for the substitute. Internally, we have developed measures to constantly improve. They address the four factors of new customers, regular customers, the product portfolio, and the employees. Over 30 years, we have also gained a lot of know-how. We will now offer this as a service.

Wirtschaftsforum: Can you give an example of this?

Achim Heyne: The issue of skilled workers is very current. We now know how recruiting works. In 2022 alone, we hired 100 employees. We will now also offer our recruitment services to our customers. We have our own internal department that deals with social media. After all, when our customers' business grows, our business grows as well.

Wirtschaftsforum: What role does sustainability play at api?

Achim Heyne: In terms of products, this is less relevant for us, as we have no influence on it. Internally, however, sustainability is an important issue. We are trying to avoid plastic with a new packaging model. This also reduces the volume, which is advantageous in terms of transport. We have converted our company fleet to electric vehicles, and we will install a solar system on our roof.

Api - Non Plus Ultra-Network Meeting
Connect companies: Non Plus Ultra-Network Meeting
Api - Logistics Area
Logistics on 20,000 m2: View into the warehouse

Wirtschaftsforum: What topics will be important to you in the future?

Achim Heyne: Growth and the development of new business areas. When it comes to corporate growth, a first-class network is a solid way forward. On the basis of trust, new ideas, innovative ways, and friendly relationships emerge. The perfect foundation for overcoming challenges more quickly and efficiently. That's why we created NON PLUS ULTRA, a network where everything revolves around the topic of growth. The monthly after-work seminars cover topics such as new customer acquisition, recruitment, expansion of existing customers, and employee retention.

Wirtschaftsforum: What goals do you have for the company?

Achim Heyne: The focus will be on sales. And what I have learned about growth, I want to pass on.