Christoph Böttcher, CEO of TREX.PARTS
Versatile and dynamic global parts supply company TREX.PARTS' CEO Christoph Böttcher talks about the recent formation of the company, its achievements, and directions for the future.
Christoph, almost exactly one year ago, you started as managing director of TREX.PARTS. How did you find the first year?
For me, it is first an honour to have been involved in building up TREX.PARTS from the very beginning. From the project status in 2017, through the approval and foundation phase in 2018 and the first full business year in 2019, we all did not know what to expect. The expectations of the market and of the parent companies were and are justifiably high. After the first steps, we look back with pride at what we have achieved so far, but then quickly turn our attention to the future, where many tasks and challenges still await us.
On January 07, 2019 we went live with the web shop, our birth so to speak, only then we could see if what we had been planning for months would pass the practical test. Not everything worked out as planned; in particular the system-side processes and coordination took a lot of time to adjust.
The independent dealers and customers perceived our market entry really well. There is still a great deal of potential lying dormant here, but we have already been able to exploit it noticeably better in recent months. For me, this is a very good sign that the free market accepts TREX.PARTS as a new partner. We can build on this very well.
Moreover, of course, one of the highlights of the year was the LogiMAT trade fair, which took place very early in the year, where we presented ourselves publicly for the first time. Being an absolute newcomer, we were quite curious on how customers and visitors would respond. All doubts have been dispelled on the first evening, when what we had planned and hoped for became reality: The acceptance, the encouragement and the demand for an alternative on the market for spare parts for forklift trucks was overwhelmingly great and so was the crush and interest in our stand. I personally and the whole team are already looking forward to LogiMAT 2020, where we will of course be back again. Come, visit us, and get to know us personally!
Can you briefly summarise the milestones you have achieved in the first 12 months?
The most important thing for me is the team. We started out with 15 employees and expanded the team with many skilled and motivated people. In the meantime, with almost 40 colleagues, we have put together an excellent team to master the challenges of 2020 and we are prepared for the rapidly growing volume.
Then the expansion of the product range is surely another important milestone. Here we have not only expanded the original parts supply capability and added further brands such as Clark, Hyster, and Yale; but also have we gained many new articles and suppliers, especially in the identification and original equipment sector. At the beginning of the year nobody knew TREX.PARTS, supplier contacts were tough.
Today we are in the position that new suppliers approach us on their own initiative, existing suppliers meet us at eye level and perceive us as an important and strong player in the market. I consider this expansion, which will also be ongoing in 2020 and the coming years, to be one of the most important success factors for TREX.PARTS. We do not want to be a niche supplier, but rather the go to partner for all parts.
Ultimately, all product ranges are only good if customers get them as quickly, as possible, i.e. with a guaranteed availability. This includes, on the one hand, the stock, which we are expanding continuously. However, the logistics chains must also be right. We already deliver to more than 25 countries and have almost 60 different freight forwarding variants to choose from - from standard parcels to pallets, express delivery and even boot delivery. Here, too, we are continuously expanding and improving our range of services in order to become even faster and more reliable.
The aim of the foundation is to establish an alternative on the open market for spare and wear parts specialists for material handling equipment. Where do you see your advantages in a highly competitive market?
A monopoly is never good. Except for the monopolist. The market knows this and nobody wants to accept this dependence for himself and his company. Nevertheless, as there was a lack of alternatives up to now, the customers had no other choice and this is exactly where we see our big chance. For me, however, this is by no means enough. In the long term, it is not enough to be only the second, albeit long awaited, player on the market. We want to be better. We have two decisive starting points for this:
Transparency is the first and crucial issue here. A customer can clearly see what he is buying in our web shop. He makes a conscious decision to choose an original part or just as consciously to purchase a high-quality Ident-part for a repair of an older machine in line with its current value. There is no surprise when the package arrives and. From the very beginning, we transparently display what we offer and the customer has the choice. In our web shop, we list the quality level of each item: Original - Original Equipment Manufacturer - Ident. In addition, the customer can be assured by our quality promise that no matter which part he chooses, the quality is right.
Moreover, just as important for us is the second point, the partnership. We do not want to force anyone to work with us by dominating the market, but we want to convince him or her of us. This only works in a partnership-based cooperation. The positive response from the market and the continuous feedback takes us further every day. Finally, we remind ourselves constantly that our customers are most important and they deserve transparency and partnership.
Therefore, we are close, we are accessible, and we are honest.
One year after the foundation of the company, you are surely still facing many construction sites (loose ends). Where do you see the biggest challenges for the coming months?
For me, loose ends are simply the opportunity to achieve further improvements. The volume and the positive response from the market did surprise us. This rapid growth is the greatest challenge for us. As the number of customers grows, so do the demands for technical advice, additional product ranges, additional markets and logistical solutions. We have to grow within our organisation as well as externally in the market. To achieve this, we must expand our product ranges and further develop our team in order to serve customers with their legitimate expectations in the way they expect it. The biggest issues in the coming months will be the expansion of the product range, especially in the OEM area, the resulting need to increase the number of product management staff and the expansion of the capacity in technical consulting.
Overall, we are very much looking forward to the year 2020, which got off to a very good start in January and will have many more highlights in store for us. In a few years we will look back with a smile on this initial period, it is simply a pleasure to be part of the development of such an enterprise from the very beginning.
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