The success story that eSAB Bröckskes - Cable solutions for the worldmerged from the crisis
It’s all about having the right connections. Something that appears to be a commonplace truism fits lock, stock and barrel at SAB Bröckskes. The company from Viersen has been producing cables for over 60 years. If cables were the only things this family-run business were offering, it would long since have been driven off the market. But today it is still holding its own because it doesn’t just produce cables; it delivers solutions to problems too. These days, six new products are sent to the production plant every day. What’s more, these are not mass-produced goods but individual cables that bring together several applications in one flexible sheath. SAB offers its customers made-to-measure solutions: custom-made products that you only need 500 to 1,000 meters of, not umpteen kilometres. Discounters from Asia won’t even touch orders of less than 10 kilometres. Naturally, custom-made products mean a lot of manual labour. But in Viersen-Süchteln, highly motivated staff with years of experience are standing by and they immediately know exactly what has to be done. Before a client has even explained what they want elsewhere, SAB has already delivered. The company has been a training company too since 1984. Its fully qualified cable production mechanics have been among the best in the country for years.
Managing Director Peter Bröckskes is proud of his staff. He says it is not easy to find companies with such a good working atmosphere everywhere in the world. Overall the company has 65 years of experience. The machinery park works like clockwork. Anyone thinking, “Well, a cable is just a cable,” isn’t aware of the challenges involved in making cables for modern machines. The cables made at SAB can be rotated by up to 720 degrees and can also withstand extreme conditions. In lifts, for example, where the cables are permanently moved and flexed, and yet the wires must not be allowed to snap off. One cable for a harbour crane in Rotterdam was weighed down with a strip of lead so that it remains stable even when there are strong winds. Cables are used for everything from smelting furnaces to deep-freeze plants. However, standard cable sheaths don’t work at all temperatures. A PVC cable cannot be used for de-icing equipment for planes, since the material cracks very quickly when there is frost. SAB supplies the right cables for this, as well as the balancing circuits for keeping the food cool on the luxury liner Queen Mary 2. When the Dutch recreation park Six Flags needed a 30-meter long new cable for a driving unit, SAB was able to assist quickly. And when Mercedes had a cable problem while developing the A-Class, SAB came to the rescue. The special cable they needed was made in three hours and delivered to the customer in just eight hours.
At the site in Viersen they work round the clock using a four-shift system. They also manufacture regularly on Saturdays. This enables great flexibility and speed. SAB has firmly established itself worldwide as a specialist for niche products in various sectors. Everything is made locally, and about 50 percent is exported to 40 other countries. Sales offices in France, the USA, Mexico, the Netherlands and China look after this side of the business. SAB is in the middle of preparing to hand down the business to the next generation. The daughter Sabine Bröckskes-Wetten, who so far has been the technical director in the company, has taken over 90 percent of the company’s shares. Her father Peter Bröckskes is now an employed managing director and is looking forward to improving his golf from the middle of next year.
This means SAB will remain a family business – now in the third generation – as it has always been. After the war, Peter Bröckskes senior, who was originally from Cologne, ‘got stuck’ in Süchteln. While out dancing he met a girl from there and moved to the Niederrhein. He then turned his big dream of becoming self-employed into reality in 1947. He became a sales representative for signalling equipment. He received his first order from Brüggen-Bracht. It was for an electrical facility for monitoring the temperature while firing roof tiles. But drawing up a plan for one piece of equipment and then throwing it away once it was built didn’t seem a very efficient way of working to Bröckskes. That’s when he had the idea of building the thermal elements himself. He bought the cables he required direct from a factory in Rheydt. But when he learned that it was going to take 24 months for them to be delivered, that was all he needed to decide to make them himself. Then they began making control wires for machines too, which were supplied to the entire German electrical industry via wholesale.
Peter Bröckskes junior first worked at De Beukeler in Kempen for three years after gaining his degree in business studies in 1977. When his father, who had built up the business from scratch, turned 60 he asked him if he would like to join the family business. Father and son then worked together initially for SAB Bröckskes – until the father died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1989 at the age of 69. Together with his brother, Peter Bröckskes junior then took over the company completely. In 1991 the company reached a milestone in its history. Peter Bröcksjes made a far-sighted decision. The increasing concentration in the electrical industry was pushing down prices. The company had to find a way to resist this pressure. The solution was direct sales, in other words, offering problem solutions instead of just supplying standard cables. If this decision hadn’t been made, Peter Bröckskes now recalls, the company wouldn’t exist anymore, at least not in its current form. Hence, today, in a building complex in Grefrather Straße, where to begin with the Reich motorbike factory was housed, which was then used to pack brown bread into tins for the German armed forces, cable solutions for machines all round the world are manufactured on a daily basis.
SAB Bröckskes GmbH & Co. KG
Grefrather Straße 204-212 b
Tel.: 02162 - 898-0
Fax: 02161 - 898-101
At at: February 2014