Fast Four & NetSuite Provide a Platform for OHiS to Change the Game: Elevating Customer Service Through Efficiency
OHIS manufacture, sell, maintain and repair lifting equipment, including overhead cranes, hoists, jib cranes, slings, grippers, radio controls and security systems. Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, Christophe Bontinck, had become frustrated and concerned by the seeming lack of urgency, and priority given to customer experience in the sector.
In 2019, along with two partners (Ralph Krips and Luc Kremer), and two employees, OHiS launched with the aim of redefining industry standards; introducing efficient, responsive and transparent processes from quotes, through to production, invoicing, and ongoing proactive maintenance of quality products.
Within 12 months, the company had exceeded €1 million turnover, including some large contract wins against well-established competitors, and had taken on only two additional staff by the end of their first year to fulfill demand.
The Challenge – Efficiency as a Differentiator
Launching a business is always challenging. However, launching a business in a highly competitive industry of well-established, large, reputable manufacturers means that you really have to do something special to differentiate yourself in order to compete, nevermind succeed.
There are usually two options to achieve this: do something completely new; or, do the same things markedly better than your competitors.
For OHiS, the option was clear: produce high-quality products for customers but act like an e-commerce company, not a legacy manufacturer. The challenge for the business however was not just to be responsive and agile (two things which are arguably easier to accomplish as a small business) but to ensure that they could scale, at pace, without disproportionately adding to the non-production side of the business, which would inevitably introduce unnecessary cost and complexity for OHiS and their customers.
Christophe Bontinck, Founder of OHiS explains:
“There are a lot of costs to launch a manufacturing business: premises, machinery, stock, and ofcourse staff. We made a strategic decision to build our business on a foundation of automation. Our focus was to be fast and ensure that any work being done in our business was productive, creating value for our customers and ultimately driving revenue for the business.
“This meant that we had to find a system which managed all aspects of OHiS. We needed something which facilitated a simple flow of data from A, to B, to Z, and gave us, as directors, visibility of critical information to make informed strategic decisions.”
Implementing the Solution
“There were two critical factors in making our decision. The system itself, and the implementation partner. We considered SAP, Odoo and NetSuite, and we opted for NetSuite due to the end-to-end functionality it offered, combined with the fact we could actually get our hands dirty and start using valuable aspects of the system within weeks and months, not years.
“Fast Four’s experience in our industry was key, as was their passion for our business. Jan and the team were clearly invested in the success of OHiS beyond the system implementation. They didn’t just deliver what we asked for, they listened to what we were looking to achieve and then advised us the best way to go about that, both for the immediate and longer term. They did not overcomplicate things, instead they focused on getting us using NetSuite and driving positive behaviours in our business, which we could then build upon as we grew. Our relationship with Fast Four has been invaluable”
The Outcome: smart growth
Since launching, and implementing NetSuite, OHiS have grown at an impressive rate, exceeding €1 Million turnover, adding only two staff and an additional two vans to the original set-up. Serving customers of all sizes in different countries with a relatively small team means that all hands are needed on pumps at all times, and with plans for further expansion, this requirement is only likely to increase.
Mr Bontinck continues: “People are the most important thing to our business, and we need them to be doing things that our customers need people to do, not filling spreadsheets or pushing paper. We have had feedback from customers that we have actually delivered solutions to them before our competitors have even managed to reply to a request for proposal…that is what we set the business up to be.
“Automation is key to that. It means we can focus on selling cranes which is what we’re good at. Plus, scaling is more straightforward as the foundations are there and the processes are automated, so there is no additional back office effort to manage increased production.”
Jan Snyers, Managing Director of Fast Four says: “OHiS is such a great story. Christophe and the team are building something really special and we are excited to be a part of that. Fast Four, as a business, was founded from our own experience of implementing NetSuite and witnessing first-hand the unrivalled power NetSuite offered businesses to create efficiencies, improve the use of data, and ultimately drive a better outcome for customers. This project and our ongoing relationship with OHiS is a great example of what we do, and our whole reason for being.
“Increasingly, we are seeing in the manufacturing industry that ‘how’ you create and deliver your product is just as important as ‘what’ you create. Customers like to be loyal, but if someone can produce the same quality of product quicker, more sustainably, ethically and/or cost-effectively, then loyalties can change, and quickly.
“To keep up with change, and drive further improvements, manufacturers need people to be engaged, innovating and adding value at every stage. This is what we specialise in, and what we will continue to support OHiS to achieve as both businesses grow.”