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A winning formula

Published: 29 March 2012 - Michelle Winny

When David Phillips, Managing Director of Binder UK took to the challenge of establishing a UK subsidiary for the German interconnect product specialist, Binder, it was an intensive test of management skills, market knowledge and drive toward proprietorship with compelling results as Michelle Winny, Editor of Electronics found out.

A connector may seem somewhat innocuous even simple but the often high-reliability applications that demand these devices require sophisticated technology that has impeccable durability. Like the connector, dynamics behind running a company specialising in these products is anything but simple; especially when it is it is one where the reigns have been fully entrusted along with the set-up funding.

For many this is a situation that could quickly have become a case of sink or swim but for David Phillips, Managing Director of Binder UK, tasked with the challenge of establishing a UK subsidiary for German interconnect specialist, Binder, it become a test of market knowledge and management skills that paid off.

Phillips joined Binder in February 2009, having previously been Head of UK Sales & Marketing at Quadrant Connections, a former UK agent for Binder since 1988. Phillips said: “Having known the Binder company for many years and as a highly respected and successful family owned German company, with a reputation for quality and ideas I jumped at the opportunity.”

Phillips took the first steps to this mammoth task by choosing a suitable location for the company to operate out of and Hemel Hempstead, north of London, was the winning choice owing to its convenient links to the motorways, airports and closeness to home for Phillips.

The objectives behind setting up the UK subsidiary were to create a presence for the company brand in the UK along with increasing market penetration, generating new OEM sales in ­traditional and new markets and to operate a coordinated strategy for ­distribution. This investment in recent years has taken place during times of recession and as Phillips commented: “is the sign of a strong and successful working company.”

The Binder brand originated as a family run business specialising in interconnection solutions in Germany by Founder & MD, Franz Binder who was later joined by son, Markus Binder who assumed the role of CEO.

The company has since come to recently celebrate 50 years of innovation in the industry and has grown to employ in excess of 1100 staff internationally across two business groups; Binder Systems Group and Binder Connectors Group.

The parent company based in Neckarsulm, Baden-Wüttemberg in Southern Germany is the mother ­company of the group and Phillips advises is nestled in the heart of German wine country with a turnover in excess of 1100 million. Much of the ­connector products, which are all manufactured by the company in Germany are sold into German industry.

A penchant for family business

Some of the core success rendered from the establishment of the Binder brand could be attributed to the sense of traditionalism that has spirited the company through the years. Phillips advises that like any traditional German business, 'keeping it in the family' or offering employees an opportunity to be a close-working part of the business creates a sense of ownership and has been elementary in achieving the results it has.

This is in combination with its committed staff having a vital and intimate knowledge of the local market in each subsidiary area. This sentiment translates into the company's strategy for setting up international subsidiaries. By taking people who know the local market and who know the product ­creates a strong business dynamic that has driven profitability and serviced local customer demand with compelling results.

Commenting on the motivation behind this business agenda Phillips said: “It is the strategy of Franz Binder GmbH (parent company) to have the most appropriate sales channel in-place for each international market. In many countries an agent or distributor may be sufficient, however some ­markets may be better penetrated and served via a Binder sales company.

“As a result the company has in recent years established subsidiaries in markets where in their view, the market potential is not being realised: China (2001), USA (2005), France (2008), UK (2009), Sweden (2010) and this year there will be another in northern Europe.” 

Product quality and service are among the most important objectives of any company when it comes to meeting customer requirements and Phillips advises that the key to success is “making the company fit the market and not the market fit the company.”

However setting up the UK subsidiary was an ambition achieved with a catalogue of challenges but with rewarding results.

For Phillips one of the biggest challenges was getting the sales infrastructure in place and appointing ­distribution partners. This was to support the market whilst managing the transition from the complex supply routes to market, which existed before Binder UK. This has come a long way to arrive at the markedly consistent and clear channels, which exist now for either direct supply, through one of the specialist partners or via one of the major catalogue distributors.

As an experienced sales manager & marketing professional with several years familiarity as a company director prior to joining Binder, the last three years have been hugely challenging and rewarding for Phillips. But as any effective manager will condone and as Phillips advises: “Having the right staff is vital with delegation and ­prioritisation a must.

As a man who is in tune with his surroundings and utilises this to be reflective and reactionary, Phillips rounds-up with the summary for a ­successful formula of management with: “As Ronald Reagan once said: “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out.”... “Now I can't argue with that.”

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