Interview with Timo Klerks, Barbas Bellfires

The collaboration between Driessen and Barbas Bellfires goes back a long time. We’ve produced a large part of their product range at one time or another. “This applies, incidentally, for all our suppliers here in the Kempen, with whom we’ve had a good relationship for years,” says Timo.

Yet some years ago Barbas made a different strategic choice and it was decided to insource all production. This resulted in a production company that many sheet metal suppliers would be jealous of. “It was certainly not a cost consideration and we certainly didn’t think we could do it better, but the biggest factor was time. We needed to save as much time as possible, so that our people could act more flexibly towards the customer,” says Timo.

All in all, this proved a successful process. “Of course we did run into some issues, such as the fact that we now had to solve our own manufacturing problems. Or the fact that we have to bear the uncertainty of economic downturns ourselves. But the advantages in terms of shorter lead times outweigh these negatives. And we currently manage to produce about 400 stoves a week,” says Timo.

Very good relationship

Despite this process, the relationship with Driessen has always remained very good. One reason is that both parties manage expectations in close consultation. “We’ll never have all the technical possibilities in-house,” indicates Timo. “There will also always have to be ‘intermediate operations’ in the supply chain as a result of which outsourcing will be an advantage.” Timo also sees a future role in this for R&D development and start-up series. “Our production machinery isn’t really equipped for that”.

When we ask about one of the biggest frustrations in a customer/supplier relationship, Timo says firmly that not getting answers to questions can frustrate him very much. “Fortunately that’s never an issue with you. We always get a good, fast and honest response. And sometimes the best answer you can give is no”.

When we ask for an overall mark, he gives us a firm 8.0. “There will always be things that can be improved. For example, in the future we may be able to look more closely at the intermediate stocks and transports in the chain. We still lose some time in the chain. But I’m confident that we can tackle this together because I’ve followed your internal improvement processes with interest and I know that we’ve the same ideas about matters such as QRM. Your strength really lies in speed and flexibility,” Timo tells us. This also provides a solid basis for a future-proof collaboration!

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