‘Eindhoven’ goes for Demcon formula 100%
Demcon Zuid, set up nearly five years ago at Science Park Eindhoven, is growing steadily. ‘We have won customers that we would have found hard to serve from Enschede (Demcon’s home base, ed.)’, says managing director Toon Hermans. One reason is the Demcon culture. ‘Lots of talented engineers and project managers are attracted by it. We are able to pique their interest and get them to commit to us.’
We won’t achieve our growth targets with ‘steady Eddies’ who keep on ploughing the same old furrow.
High-end technology supplier Demcon has its roots and home base in Enschede. Founders/owners Dennis Schipper and Peter Rutgers aren’t about to dispute that. And why would they? Since its foundation in 1993, Demcon has grown year-on-year and currently has 250 people on the payroll. Toon Hermans: ‘Demcon started out with contract R&D and was very strong in mechatronic development. That is the basis of the company, that’s what we owe our success to.’
From idea to product
Initially, Demcon relied heavily on orders from OEMs in semiconductors. Those customers remain important, but in order to become less dependent on that cyclical market, the firm also started tapping into other markets. Successfully so: today, medical systems are one of the biggest business units, with customers worldwide. And the industrial systems business unit, which has been operating in industrial automation and specialty engineering for the past two years, is also finding success. They too serve a market in which solutions for complex systems play a crucial role.
Demcon became a systems supplier thanks to the development of Demcon Production, where the prototypes are built and (mass) production take place. The extensive customer portfolio reflects the demand for a systems supplier that has all competencies in-house. And by acquiring promising firms and start-ups, the competencies within the Demcon are being expanded further. Examples are: Finapres Medical Systems (non-invasive continuous blood pressure monitors), Macawi Medical Systems (respiratory equipment), Inbiolab (measuring muscle tension), Nymus 3D (visualisations for medical scientific and other purposes) and Bunova (thermal and structural analysis and design). With the acquisition of Finapres and Macawi, Demcon became a fully-fledged OEM.
Diversification led to the opening of sites outside Enschede: in Amsterdam, Oldenzaal, Groningen, Eindhoven and Münster (Germany). These subsidiaries maintain intensive contacts with the parent firm, emphasises Toon Hermans, managing director of the Eindhoven site. ‘In Enschede we have specialists and competencies which are hard to find elsewhere in the Netherlands. We would be crazy if we didn’t make optimum use of them. And we foster our Demcon culture; talented technicians and customers are attracted by it.’
What is that culture? Hermans: ‘I think of it as being enterprising and sharp. Present a problem to Dennis Schipper and Peter Rutgers and you get a razor-sharp analysis of the business side – Dennis’ strength – and the technical side, in which Peter excels. That enterprising spirit is also expressed in the room afforded to the project managers and engineers. ‘Customers come to us with technologically tricky, challenging questions. If it’s been done before, they don’t ask us. So the way our projects develop is often not predictable. Our project managers are good at managing that.’
Toon Hermans spends at least one day a week in Enschede in order to make sure there is ‘a single face to the customer’. And every Monday the project managers in Eindhoven discuss the best approach to projects – which are generally carried out by mixed teams. Hermans: ‘Our strength is that we do it together. It shouldn’t matter to customers whether we implement their projects in Eindhoven or Enschede; the most important thing is finding the best solution. Striking a good balance, that is our challenge.’ Naturally, subsidiaries do certain things and the parent company does other things. ‘We went to Eindhoven because customers said: you can only do bigger projects for us if you move closer to us. Fine – by
moving here we kept them and won new customers. Without compromising the Demcon formula – thanks to that formula, in fact.’
The Eindhoven Demcon site now employs 40 people. Toon Hermans’ aim is to grow that number to 60-70 in the years to come. ‘But only with the very best people. We won’t achieve our growth targets with ‘steady Eddies’ who keep on ploughing the same old furrow.
Read also the other Articels in Link magazine, South Netherlands special 2016