When did Altek Lammertz become Altek Beissel?
The trademark has been licensed from BMN Biessel Machinennadel GmbH from the year 2006. So Lammertz will henceforth be called Beissel. And Altek needles will be marketed under the global brand name Beissel.
Why Beissel? Why did you choose Beissel name?
We make quality needles, the old fashioned German way. We export them to all corners of the globe. We have a loyal clientèle who keep re-ordering without much persuasion. The reputation our products have earned in the last 10 odd years set us thinking. We asked ourselves, why not launch a global brand of needles that will bridge exacting new age demands with old world charm and quality. The name Beissel had just the right pedigree and positive connotations. So we chose to associate with BMN Beissel Machinennadel of Germany. We are aware that this name will create expectations. Just like, say, the name Rolls-Royce. But we are sure we have the wherewithal to exceed these expectations.
But how do you expect to compete with well entrenched giants from Germany and Japan?
The needle market is a huge pie. There is space for anyone who offers quality. So we are not really worried about competition. In fact, we think the competition has every reason to fear us. Because we've made German precision more affordable. Our successful business model has forced our competitors to shift their manufacturing base from Germany to India. We take this as a compliment. As imitation is the best form of flattery.
We see your needles are cheaper than German and Japanese brands but why does the needle prices of competition coming down?
Needles manufacturing is a labour intensive operation. Labour cost is lower in India than in Germany. Import duties and other taxes make imports more expensive than those made in India. German and Japanese needle manufacturers have been consistently reducing prices over the last 10 years in spite of rising costs due to competition. This by itself is proof that the prices of imported needles have no relevance to cost but only to competitive pressure. Rolls Royce does not reduce price due to competitive pressure. Why is it then the German and Japanese brands are reducing their prices? Only due to Beissel's top quality needles at challenging prices.
We see price as your edge. Isn't that a risky proposition?
It would be a gross misrepresentation to project price as our only edge. Beissel is not a price warrior. We are a quality player who passes on the benefits of business process innovation to our clients. We are able to offer the same quality at a sweeter price thanks to our geographical location. You see, our factory is located in South India, a region renowned for its affordable pool of highly skilled labour. Another factor that keeps our cost low is we happen to belong to the exclusive club of needle makers who offer both household and industrial sewing machine needles. So economies of scale work in our favour.
If price is not your selling plank, what is then?
At Beissel, we don't see ourselves as plain needle makers. We see ourselves as allies of making fashion more fashionable. What this approach means is Beissel will closely work with clients to develop stitching solutions for fashion problems rather than just deliver needles. It's a whole new way of thinking. The big challenge will be to change our worldview from a precision tool company to a completely customer focused nimble needle brand. Once we do this, the 'Beissel inside' tag will automatically get popular.
Your needle is not made in Germany. How do you expect to execute this plan of fashion fashionable globally?
Beissel is centuries old German brand sought after all over the world. Beissel is exported to Germany and to all continents of the world. Beissel is the first German needle company to start manufacturing in India. All other German companies have now followed Beissel's example and shifted to India (but give the impression that they are made in Germany). This is violation of law as many countries have stipulated that the packaging should carry the place of manufacture as per packaging commodities act. Beissel is the only brand that carries the manufacturing address on their packaging. Beissel is participating in all the key global fairs. Fairs are a neat way of reaching our to informed buyers. We'll use there fairs to communicate our fresh approach. Once people walk into our stall, I am sure they will be able to see, touch and feel the new zing in the all new Beissel needles.
Making Beissel a global brand is not an easy task. How do you expect to pull this off?
Nothing comes easy. It will involve a lot of sweat. A lot of listening. But it's worth it. This customer friendly approach has worked in other categories. I see no reason why it shouldn't work in the needles segment. At the end of the day, we must remember that very few people want to know that went into your needle. They'd rather like to know what your needles can do for them.