Our cooperation with Dutch companies, customers and suppliers is good and based on long-term collaboration
European Strut&Support Manufacturer (ESM) is a Dutch company founded in 2013 under the name Todebo, with production facilities based in Serbia. ESM engages in serial production of metal construction parts and components for wholesalers and wholesale customers. We talked with Tom de Boer, the Company’s Founder and Managing Director, about how the coronavirus pandemic affected the company’s operations, business development and cooperation with other Dutch companies.
How did ESM survive the year of the coronavirus and what kind of effect did it have on business?
In terms of production, 2020 was a year rife with challenges. Apart from the “nervousness” on the CRU (metal stock exchange) and a slight increase in the price of steel, it was business as usual until March. However, right at the beginning of the lockdown, when the forecast for Q2 2020 remained unchanged, I consulted our customers about how they saw developments and they all had the same message – “please, continue to produce and deliver”.
“One of the first plans is to find a new location in Sremska Mitrovica where we will expand in accordance with the increased volume of work and our production needs”
The message was clear and at the Zoom meeting with our team Serbia, I said “take care and charge full steam ahead”. Despite many uncertainties, internal challenges and our trucks, that transported raw materials and finished products, being delayed for several days at the EU borders, we successfully delivered goods on time, which in 2020, brought us excellent OTD and PPM customer ratings. This success is largely due to my colleagues, of whom I am very proud, and who have continued to work in extremely difficult circumstances while following the Covid protocol.
What lessons did you learn in 2020?
Many of them. I do my business mainly from the Netherlands, and almost all of our customers and some suppliers come from the EU, so we are already quite used to video calls. We have also expanded network communication within our organization, which we also want to continue doing in the future. It wasn’t always personal, but it was quick and efficient. The corona time was a big test for our five ISO standards because we had to avoid as many personal contacts as possible and hence we were much more dependent on those procedures, instructions and related processes that were not really corona-proof. All in all, we simplified the communication, production and logistics system, which resulted in us working faster and more efficiently.
How would you rate your cooperation with Dutch companies and what is the advantage of doing business with them?
By the way, we classify ourselves as a Serbian company of Dutch origin, and so do my colleagues, because 99% of our customers and a large segment of suppliers come from the EU. Our cooperation with Dutch companies, customers and suppliers is good and based on long-term collaboration.
The company’s name – European Strut & Support Manufacturer (ESM) – is recent and says a lot about your business.
True, the new name speaks more about the company than the earlier one – Todebo (an acronym of my name) – and is key to preparing and realizing our other expectations and plans. The new name tells you exactly what we are – European, strut support and manufacturer.
Since founding the company, you have been constantly investing and working on improving your business. Do your clients know how to appreciate that?
Yes, that was a difficult decision, but I believe that the only way forward is to constantly invest in people, systems and partially automate. Last year, we invested more than ever. We implemented a robot welding cell and changed the NC for CNC machines. Accordingly, we will increase our capacity and guarantee continuous quality in all circumstances. Our common goal is that together we can produce easier, faster and more while, at the same time, facilitating the production process for our production colleagues.
What are your plans?
We have recently defined short- and long-term plans for the next 5 years. To begin with, I can say that one of the first plans is to find a new location in Sremska Mitrovica where we will expand in accordance with the increased volume of work and our production needs. We will be happy to inform you about other news and plans in one of your next issues.