The BUHLMANN subsidiary DYLAN, based in Oud-Beijerland in the Netherlands, has been through eventful years and structural changes since its integration in 2015. Jean-Philippe van den Berg, for example, took up the position of Director Sales at DYLAN at the beginning of 2018. In an interview he tells us about the changes which have occurred in recent years and why the Dutch subsidiary has emerged significantly stronger.

(B) GLOBAL // Mr. van den Berg, you have been with DYLAN for almost two years now. What have you experienced so far, and what makes DYLAN a special company?

Jean-Philippe van den Berg // You can still feel the DNA of the founder Roland Brix, a great entrepreneur whose market and client approach continues to be an example for many with regard to creativity and client focus. As a result, DYLAN is still as passionate, professional and flexible as ever and is able to adapt to the increasing market demands. The company has always aimed to be more than just a firm bringing a pipe from point A to point B. We develop and deliver value added services throughout the entire logistics process. That makes DYLAN a complete business partner. We want to be where the client is, always and everywhere. And since we’ve become a part of the BUHLMANN GROUP, DYLAN grows even stronger than before.

Stronger in which way?

DYLAN has belonged to BUHLMANN for almost five years. The advantages as a group member are huge and in the meantime the improvements have been noticed. Just a few examples: We used to have our own in-house machine shop, but now we can also access a coating shop, a test laboratory with numerous possibilities, and, above all, a huge stock in the Netherlands and Germany. Daily shuttle services also guarantee fast track deliveries. In addition, the group is very healthy and strong and is headed by a young and very ambitious CEO: A Buhlmann of the third generation.

What are the major changes?

First, at the beginning of the year, we introduced a Central Backoffice, where all sales-supporting activities are concentrated. We talked for a long time with all parties involved in order to obtain broad support for the project. The departement is now fully established and operations are running smoother with each day. It goes without saying that all changes lead to efficiency improvement and thus to happier clients.

Secondly, DYLAN has always had their main focus on the Offshore and Oil & Gas market. Due to the energy transition, we had to reconsider our strategy and adapt to the current and future market requirements. We are now acting proactively. Many customers and competitors were not prepared for this change and have already disappeared from the market in the last years. This will not happen to us.

Last but not least, we have intensified our efforts towards a more sustainable way of entrepreneurship. An exciting development is the focus on Operational Excellence. Roughly speaking, this means that the corporate strategy optimizes its processes in a customer-focused way. Here, for example, we faced the challenge of handling the increasing number of small orders with a minimum of logistic movements. Together with our customers we want to tackle this problem. Quite a challenge, since interests do not always correspond with each other.

What other strategic and internal changes were there?

We are aiming for sustainable growth and new options. We want to be where our clients are and act as a responsible partner for them – but also for our suppliers, employees and their families, in fact society as a whole. We, for example, cooperate with universities in order to create an exchange of knowledge and to learn what is important for younger generations. So we are open to young people, their ideas and ambitions.

In addition, we at DYLAN created small groups with young people who meet every two weeks for brainstorming – without managers. This allows them to create new ideas unhindered. One of the things we want to show is that the piping industry is not boring. On the contrary, the challenging circumstances appeal to the creativity of people and make our business very exciting.

A lot of very interesting changes – is there room for more plans and goals?

Yes, I want to continue to use all the potential that we have here at DYLAN. By this I mean not only by means of our warehouses and infrastructure, but also our human capital. We remain a trading company and it is mainly people that make the difference. You see I am still eager and very determined to reach certain goals with DYLAN – despite of the fact that I turned 60 last year and have completed most of my professional career. Nevertheless, I would like our clients to regard DYLAN as an undisputed business partner. That we are a responsible member of our society with our focus on sustainable entrepreneurship, that our colleagues start their working days with a smile and find enough challenges to explore their creativity, and that the BUHLMANN shareholders regard acquiring DYLAN as their best decision ever. Then I will be a happy man and can prepare myself for retirement. But not today!