Let's dive into a conversation with our production partner Martijn Poepjes from QoCreators. For the past 17 years we've enjoyed working with Martijn and his team with great pleasure and success. Where we focus on the design and functionality of a product, Martijn takes care of the production in series. Because what actually happens to our designs after we finish the last technical drawing?
How did it all start?
Way back, when Theo was the owner of Fabrique Invent, he was contacted by Martijn. Martijn offered us to take care of the prototypes of our designs. We could then use these prototypes for testing and to see if our ideas worked as we envisioned them. Theo then connected one of our customers to Martijn by ordering the aluminum milled prototypes through him. Subsequently, this customer decided to have the entire production set up by Martijn and the collaboration was born. The success of this interaction is to work together based on trust. In addition to production, Martijn can also offer his customers to create designs through Fabrique Invent, whilst he can also in return realize production and prototyping for our customers. Due to our long-term cooperation, the combination of these services also offers a solid basis for a long-term partnership and continuity. This is very pleasant for the customer.
Link between China and Europe
QoCreators serves customers in Europe (mainly the Netherlands, Germany and France) from its office in the Netherlands as a production partner in Shanghai, China. From Haarlem, Martijn and his two colleagues mainly focus on the production of hardware for products and industrial semi-finished products, made of aluminum, steel or plastic. They are specialized in a certain complexity of products, and they remain in the range of a series size between 500-10,000 pieces. In addition, they also mill quick prototypes in their factories and also arrange the assembly. In addition to the office in Haarlem, there is also a QoCreators in Shanghai. This makes the line to the network of manufacturers short, and it also makes it easier to visit for communication or quality checks.
And what exactly do you do?
Martijn takes care of new customers and arranges production for existing customers. The first year in which the serial production of a design is set up is the most intensive. The drawings must be finished for production by the correct parties. Subsequently, the delivered products are checked and tested with regard to assembly tests, quality checks and checking the dimensions and tolerances. If approved, the step to serial production can be made. Once the production line is completely set up, it is a simple push of a button for Martijn to order a new batch and have it produced. He has been the link between companies and their production for 17 years and already has a lot of regular customers, including Fabrique Invent.
What are some major challenges currently facing the sector?
On the one hand you have the rising material prices. Raw materials are becoming limited; this affects prices. However, this is a worldwide problem and so everyone is affected by it. The shortage of raw materials is something that we must all solve together. Another challenge QoCreaters has faced over the past year has been rising logistics costs. Where a container on a ship previously cost €4,000, the same ride now costs €13,000. This tripling in price was caused by a combination of circumstances. Causes of this are delays in production due to Covid-19, empty containers that are stuck in the United States, a monopoly on the logistics market and the blockade in the Suez Canal last year. This makes delivery times from China to Europe a hot topic in the industry. It is also difficult to predict whether this is a temporary problem or whether this will continue for a longer period of time. What can we do about that? We try to look at the big picture. We take these additional factors into account when determining what is best for our customer when setting up their production line.
What are the future plans of QoCreators?
Of course we just keep doing what we are good at. In addition, we would like to put our own product on the market in the future by participating in a start or scale-up. Investing in a party with a good idea and sharing our knowledge, experience and network would be a great next step. We keep our ears and eyes open in the search for a great party that we want to work with, but so far we have not had any success.
Martijn is proud of the BU50 grow lamp and the light fixture for Dutch Lighting Innovations that we have developed together. We make the designs and test, Martijn has the prototypes milled and the series production rolled out. He estimates the costs of production, whether this is feasible and whether this fits within the cost price of the product. He also advises us on the feasibility of the production techniques we want to use. Thanks to open communication and quick interaction, we were able to bring beautiful, high-quality products to the market in record time.
This interview was held with Martijn Poepjes. Martijn is Managing Partner at QoCreators.