European Business: Mr. Stammberger, machine parts is a pretty broad description. What exactly is MISUMI’s area of expertise?
Stephan Stammberger: We have over 17 million products in our portfolio in the area of automation technology. Some of these we manufacture ourselves in our 24 factories around the world, others are produced for us under contract by over 800 Asian and 42 European manufacturers. Our products are used exclusively as components in machine building and engineering and the portfolio is composed of 13 different product categories. Mechanical components includes parts for linear motion, positioning, fastening, goods conveyance, transmission, moving and rotating, and coupling, all of which can be configured and ordered online. We also carry a broad range of products for car bodywork, powertrain and packaging technology. Of course, technical advice forms an integral part of the service.
European Business: You mentioned online configuration. How does this work?
Stephan Stammberger: We are in the business of category C goods (low volume, high mix), and process is important. There are three key themes: quality, cost and delivery times. These are also very transparent in our webshop. Customers configure their goods online and the delivery time is shown immediately. Normally, clients have customized goods within four to seven working days. The configurator is our best sales tool. We are continuing to develop it – user friendliness is a top priority. Of course, customers can also look through our full catalogue online too – we also keep this as simple as possible.
European Business: Your aim is to become the number one engineering platform for automation technology. What gives MISUMI its competitive edge?
Stephan Stammberger: I would say, above all, the consistent application of our business model and concentration on our core business – configuration, fast delivery, and top quality products. We buy our products from around the world but quality is completely consistent. Every single piece is quality controlled. In addition, we understand our customers. Our credo is ‘It’s all about time’. In the automotive and mechanical engineering industries, the current market situation means that lead-time is the only route to success. Time often beats price. Whoever delivers first has won. We try to put our customers in pole position.
European Business: To what extent has this philosophy brought success?
Stephan Stammberger: MISUMI Europa was founded in 2003. To celebrate our 15th anniversary we held a fabulous event for all our staff in our new European headquarters in St. Martin’s Tower, in Frankfurt. We have been achieving growth of some 20 to 25% per year, which looks set to continue over the next four years at least. In 2018, we are targeting a turnover of around 100 million EUR; we are incredibly proud of this, particularly as our growth has been exclusively organic.
European Business: Besides online configuration, what other technological developments are affecting your business and the industry in general?
Stephan Stammberger: Of course, Industry 4.0 is having a massive impact. Factories are becoming networked, huge amounts of data are being exchanged, and design and drawings are already largely system-based. As a result of our broad portfolio and our expertise and experience, we are naturally at the forefront of new developments
European Business: You have been with MISUMI since July 2013. What is your personal view of the company?
Stephan Stammberger: I was completely convinced by the concept from the outset. I believe MISUMI offers huge value to our customers. We don’t compromise quality for the sake of price, we take a holistic approach, and offer all round value. That makes our portfolio much more attractive than many of our competitors. We discuss this theme extensively with our customers, along with process costs and savings, to understand their motivation. I believe that those who are able to offer up-to-date process technology to the right standard and at the right cost, provide their customers with the greatest value for money.
European Business: How do you see the future for MISUMI Europa?
Stephan Stammberger: Our overriding aim is to be the number one engineering platform for automation technology, through the combination of our transaction platform and engineering service. This means broadening our standard range and developing application-specific technology in the areas of car body work, powertrain and packaging. To further improve lead-time we are constantly increasing our stock items, up to 500 k products over the next few years, in our newly established distribution centre in Frankfurt. We are also increasing our production capacity in Europe in the direction of CAD-CAM and, of course, we are bedding in digitilization, which is where I believe we can really lead the field in the mechanical engineering industry in the coming years.