Huh? An engineering firm that sells measurement systems? (20/50)
We don’t advertise it, but the niche measuring systems market around the world is fully aware of the quality of M+P equipment. For senior advisor Fred Reinink and measurement technician Patrick Boelens, the sale of measurement systems is only a small part of their daily work, but they know exactly how a consultancy office ended up marketing its own systems.
It’s tempting, but it’s not obvious
In principle, the sale of ready-made measuring systems seems odd for a consulting engineering firm. So why do we sell them then? Fred is happy to explain: “At the end of the 1990’s, we were doing more and more research into quiet road surfaces. In order to comply with ISO standards we developed our own systems, which included the CoMeT CPX system. This noise measurement trailer measures the contact noise between tyre and road. After several years and countless measurements, we could finally say that we had successfully optimised our CPX system. And then foreign companies started to make enquiries: “We could develop a measuring system like that ourselves, but yours is already great; can’t we buy yours?” It sounded tempting, but did we really want that? External sales means a number of things have to be in order. For example, the software may be straightforward for us to use ourselves, but it may not be so easy for customers; in that case, it has to be user-friendly. In addition, we would need to set up a helpdesk service to offer support with questions or problems.”
The ball started rolling
At the beginning of 2001, M+P decided to market the CoMeT CPX system as a product. After 2 years, we received our first orders from Norway and Spain. Then things really started rolling, both in the rest of Europe and beyond in Japan, China and South Korea. Patrick says: “We supply our own system, which can be adjusted on demand: slightly larger, slightly narrower, or with customer-specific software. Over 20 years, we have built 25 to 30 trailers. And in recent years we have also sold around 10 of our self-developed FLaSH 3D laser measuring systems. These systems measure the texture of the road surface. And there are even more measuring systems on our website beyond what has already been described.”
Everyone has their job
With 27 years of experience as a consultant, Fred handles customer contacts. “Sometimes, if the customer has read the documentation thoroughly and has experience with the equipment, the sales contract can be signed within six months. But the process between first contact and contract signature can also take between 3 and 4 years. But this makes sense: it's not a small expense.” Patrick, who has been mainly taking measurements and maintaining M+P equipment for 13 years, is responsible for the practical part. “It takes me 2 to 3 weeks to complete a CPX trailer. The shell comes from an external party and I build up the system with all the specific parts – microphone supports, cabling, and so on.” In addition, his colleague Erik van Gils is responsible for the software and acting as first contact person at the support desk.
People know how to find us
“We don’t do active PR,” says Fred. “But because we are part of the Müller-BBM group with offices in various countries, all our potential customers can get in touch with us easily. For example, we also work with resellers in South Korea. M+P now has quite a bit of name recognition. This is down to us being members of the various ISO working groups that bring specialists together from all over the world, which means we can quickly reach the right people with interest and knowledge. Moreover, word of mouth works very well in this small world.