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Martijn Loijen: ‘Creating pride and a positive experience with our suppliers’

It’s better to have 10 long-lasting relationships with suppliers than 100 once-only contracts. Strategic procurement officer Martijn Loijen knows exactly what he wants for Heras and why. ‘I wholeheartedly believe in working in partnership and see procurement as a process of managing relationships. I also want suppliers to be far more involved in the development of our product. Why? So we can create the best conditions, alongside a sense of pride and a positive experience.’

Martijn says involving suppliers in projects at an early stage provides a range of benefits for Heras: ‘It is, for example, very valuable for both the engineer and the supplier to be at the table during the design phase. This is because the supplier possesses a wealth of knowledge. When we clearly explain at an early stage what we want to make, the supplier can actively join in the thought process to determine the best design for our product. But it’s also a way for us to show that a supplier is important to us. So if then something unexpectedly goes wrong along the way, it’s easier for us to work it out with each other.’

Specifying agreements

Not only do suppliers join in the dialogue with engineers whenever possible, procurement also has a place at the table. ‘The earlier I’m engaged in the process, the more effectively I can ensure we enter into sound agreements with the right organisations,’ says Martijn. In addition to early involvement, specifying agreements is a key responsibility of procurement. ‘If I want a chair with four legs and I don’t specify that, then I shouldn’t be surprised to get a chair with three legs. Because that’s a chair too, right? I provide the engineers with clearly specified information so that the suppliers know exactly what we need.’

Understanding what the engineer wants

Martijn’s educational background in mechanical engineering comes in handy in his position as strategic procurement officer: ‘I understand what the engineers are saying. So if they refer to tolerances, I know exactly what they mean. On the other hand, I also think it’s important that the engineer has done his homework and can provide the supplier with the right information. Thanks to my background, I have that extra bit of knowledge and can ascertain whether we’re all on the same page. That’s how we avoid miscommunications. And it naturally also works the other way around. It’s an easier conversation when you know, for example, what types of steel a supplier is talking about.’

Professional knowledge and the right partners: a golden combination

Martijn works with two other strategic procurement officers and his manager at Heras: ‘We’re each responsible for our own product groups. I focus mainly on the mechanical components, the aluminium casting, injection mould products and sheet metal parts. What makes Heras such a great company is that we’re an exceptionally diverse manufacturer. We manufacture high-quality products and we’re proud of our work. People know us from our fencing, but we do so much more. Sliding gates, CCTV, detection products; it’s the total package that makes us so strong. The fact that we combine our professional expertise with partnerships with the right suppliers is specifically what enables us to provide our customers with optimum service.’