Kinder & Co
As far as ‘How To’ business advice guides go, Braeside-based bulk materials handling experts Kinder & Co recognise that “10 Ways to Murder your Conveyor Belt” will certainly capture the attention of their customers and stakeholders.
Education and training are central to the Kinder offer and family business owners Neil and Christine Kinder have built a sound industry reputation as much as a strong business since Kinder was first established in 1985.
What do you do?
Kinder designs and supplies solutions and products for conveyor systems to more than 3,000 customers around Australia. The company also delivers on-site and in-house training for customers.
“It’s our primary point of difference – none of our competitors offer the training, It is a key value differentiator for us in what is very much a niche industry,” explains Christine.
“This means our subject matter experts are constantly interfacing with our customers, helping them with the products and advising on best practice in real situations applicable to each individual customer.”
Such is the importance of the training that Kinder are the preferred providers for industry organisations including the Institute of Quarrying and the Construction Materials Processors Association and Box Hill TAFE, as well as training customers at their locations.
How big is the company?
Kinder occupies a 3,000m2 warehouse and office complex in Braeside, with a 20-strong team managing a product inventory of more than 4,000 conveyor system items for customers in heavy industries including mining, resources and agriculture.
Where would we see your products / services?
Some of Kinder’s main customers include resources giants Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortesque Metals Group (FMG). Kinder also supplies conveyor parts products to a variety of other industries, including fertilizers, grain and woodchip as well as quarried products.
Key challenges and issues you’ve faced in business?
“Currency changes are always challenging,” explains Neil. “We purchase and import 80 per cent of products from overseas, but we want to be continually sourcing innovative products and staying ahead of our competitors.”
Keeping abreast of the latest technology in bulk materials and best practice engineering is another key challenge, which requires Kinder to constantly reinvest and update in its skill base.
“We have regular strategic planning meetings and brainstorms involving all staff – this helps us keep on top of all the things we need to be doing,” adds Neil.
How do you market the company / products?
With many of their customers in obscure, hard-to-reach areas, email is an important part of the marketing mix for Kinder. Ultimately, however, nothing can beat the brand awareness and brand loyalty-building that comes through the stakeholder education and training.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time now and we have gradually built a name for ourselves. It’s an additional benefit to have the family name as currency. It is part of our brand reputation and there is a huge sense of pride in that,” says Christine.
“There’s a great sense of satisfaction, too, in winning preferred supplier contracts, to have customers continually coming back.”
Any business lessons or wisdom to share with other enterprises?
Neil says Kinder has never relied on one industry and the company is always striving to stay on the move.
“One year, it’ll be a big grain year, the next a big year in the sugar industry, then salt. We’re able to turn our attention to those changes.
“Nothing lasts forever in business. It’s a process of constant reinvention, of finding ways to be better at what we do. What we have today is not a guarantee of what we will have tomorrow,” Neil adds, philosophically.
“You can’t look back at what you had because that’s gone. You have to look ahead.
“You cannot make assumptions. Everything is constantly evolving. At the end of the day, the world revolves and you have to keep moving in business, too.”
An apt sentiment, given that Kinder & Co’s stock-in-trade after all is in continuously moving parts.
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