Van Merksteijn buys in wire rod imports due to lack of availability within EU

Wednesday, 20 July 2016 09:54:42 (GMT+3)   |   Istanbul
       

Van Merksteijn has been in the business for more than seventy five years and has witnessed the darkest and brightest days of the steel business in Europe and globally. Could you give our readers a brief history of the company?

Van Merksteijn International is a family company doing business in the steel processing industry. For more than 75 years already, Van Merksteijn International has been active in the steel processing industry, starting with a steel construction company but soon developing into one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of reinforcing steel products and fencing panels. Van Merksteijn International has three state-of-the-art production facilities in the Netherlands, Belgium and France and fifteen other warehouses all over Europe. Its expert staff - more than 700 dedicated people - ensures seamless services within and beyond Europe. Van Merksteijn International has an outstanding reputation thanks to the superb quality of its products, excellent service and competitive pricing which have strengthened the mutually fruitful relationships the company has with its more than 700 clients all over Europe.

What products do you supply to which markets and could you evaluate the demand situation in the markets in question?

Over the last few years we have seen stable demand from our customers who are mainly to be found in the building industry. Van Merksteijn International is the largest independent mesh grade wire rod processor worldwide and offers a wide range of reinforcing steel products and fences. We see a lot of new opportunities. This is why we are permanently investing in innovation so that we are able to service our clients all over Europe and beyond.

Could you give us some figures regarding your production capacity? Overcapacity in steel production continues to be one of the main problems overall in Europe. Do you see a familiar problem in production of your products?

On a yearly basis, we currently transform 1.2 million tons of wire rod into reinforcing steel products, galvanized wire and fences. Our production capacity is well over 2.3 million tons if we have a constant and reliable supply of wire rod. The main challenge today is a shortage of mesh grade wire rod in Europe due to the fact that a number of fully integrated steel producers are willfully creating a disruption in the market, making use of some very unorthodox methods. 

What percentage of your sales volume goes to the European markets and what percentage goes to the non-European export markets?

95 percent of our sales volume is for the European market. Five percent is destined for the rest of the world.

As far as we know, your company pays great attention to the quality of its service to customers. Could you tell our readers about the advantages of your service regarding distribution and logistics to create just-in-time deliveries?

Our company always listens to the needs of our customers. We actually see them as our partners and therefore want to provide them with all the necessary tools to be successful in their business. We invest permanently in the whole range of reinforcing steel products to deliver to our clients just-in-time and to give them an all-in-one solution, supported by highly qualified back offices and strongly integrated transport companies. Through just-in-time deliveries, we assure our customers they can do their business with low stock levels. Our well-organized facilities and trained staff throughout Europe make deliveries within 12 to 24 hours possible, together with our long time logistics partners. We keep improving lead times between order entry and actual delivery of the material through continuously optimizing our internal processes and improving our software tools to inform our customers in a proper and professional way. This means we inform our customers 24/7 about the status of their contracts and pending orders with our group. This helps our customers to run their business operations successfully.

How do you view the first half of the current year? After prices had seen a rapid increase, the market experienced a downturn later. How do such ups and downs affect your business? How do you stay safe in a fluctuating market situation?

So far 2016 has been an exciting year for us! The first message we received at the very beginning of this year was an announcement from one of our suppliers telling us that he would not be able to supply our plant in France due to technical and other problems. So we were forced to close this facility for some weeks. 

More important is the fact that we, like many other non-integrated steel processing companies, are being confronted with a huge shortage of raw materials within Europe which has led to disproportional prices and forces us to look for wire rod outside of the European Union. 
 
On top of all that, there are rumors in the market of a threat of an antidumping case against Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey. According to these rumors, a number of fully integrated steel producers want to close European borders to these suppliers of wire rod. If the antidumping threat were to become a reality, this would lead to enormous market disruptions and finally would mean the end of many non-integrated steel processing companies and their many clients as well. In other words, a handful of integrated companies is planning to misuse the EU antidumping rules to destroy many competitors.  At this very moment, we are, together with other non-integrated steel processing companies all over Europe, busy creating a brand-new European association of non-integrated wire rod processors in order to defend our justified interests.

Could you inform us about the ISO 14001 certificate you received recently? Why is it important?

Not only ISO 14001 but also our ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 certificates are of great importance to us. Besides the fact that this is more and more a justified demand from our many customers, it also means that we care about the health of our staff and about the global environment. We are committing ourselves to continuously improve our processes. As you know, we are audited on a regular basis by external companies, so having these certificates means living by them. Van Merksteijn International shows that it is also an ethical and credible organization that really cares about the environment in the world.

Any final words to our readers?

As far as strategic options are concerned, 2016 will prove to be an enormously important year, not only for Van Merksteijn International but for the whole steel processing industry in Europe and beyond. The whole landscape will be subject to revolutionary changes. We are also surprised in many positive ways about our many new suppliers outside of Europe: they prove every day their ability to deliver high quality in a flexible way and at a correct price. And this is exactly what we are looking for: reliable and professional suppliers on which we can always count. Despite - or better, thanks to - the many challenges it meets, Van Merksteijn International, more than ever, is determined to persevere!


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