Martín Berakoetxea: “The enthusiasm with which we worked on the project got everyone on board willing to contribute with ideas and solutions”

Last October, GH Cranes’ homemade ‘Astebatean-1week delivery’ project hit the ten-year milestone. As its name in Basque indicates, guarantees delivery to the customer within a week. To celebrate this anniversary, we spoke with one of its main promoters, Martín Berakoetxea, Industrial Director of the Components Unit at GH Cranes & Components. 

Tell us how the Astebatean service was born 
Its birth is closely linked to the global crisis of 2009. On the one hand, sales of standard cranes had fallen in the domestic market, on the other, there was a need from our subsidiaries abroad to improve delivery times in terms of what mechanisms are concerned. This led us to carry out an exhaustive analysis and to realize that, with a good organisation, we could reduce the deadlines considerably, and more considering that we had the commitment from the Management to maintain the workforce so, therefore, we had available resources. Another relevant factor in the birth of Astebatean is that at that time the first steps were born from what today we call “Business Units”, the Lantegis. They organized GH into teams of people oriented to their markets and customers. At GH we understood that the crisis represented an opportunity at the same time, and, thanks to this advanced service, we were able to adapt to what the market demanded of us at such a delicate moment. 

“Thanks to this advanced service, we were able to adapt to what the market demanded of us at such a delicate moment” 

The idea was to reduce lead times from five to six weeks to just one. It is not surprising that, at first, many had doubts … 
Indeed. The first meeting on the 22nd July 2009 was not easy, even tense I would say. As is often the case with all changes, a part of the team viewed the initiative with suspicion and doubted its chances of success. However, when they heard the arguments we had, the vast majority were convinced. Therefore, as soon as we returned from vacation, we all got down to work. 

Tell us about the team that carried out the commissioning of the service. 
It was made up of twenty-seven people who we divided into three teams to analyze the process from offer to delivery: the first was in charge of the start, offer, order, etc. … the second of the manufacturing and supplier processes, and the third of managing the expeditions. From those days I remember the intensity and enthusiasm with which we all worked. A hoist requires a very high degree of customization so hundreds of details had to be polished and many meetings with teams and suppliers had to be held. The goal was not easy, but the enthusiasm with which we worked on the project made everyone want to contribute ideas and solutions. The success of the Astebatean service is the result of the excellent joint work of the three teams and the people who worked in them. 

“From the beginning of the project I remember the intensity and enthusiasm with which we all work” 

How was the service received by customers? Was the promise ‘One week’ been fulfilled from the beginning? 
The service was very well received. If the first Beasain hoist came out on October 27, by December we had already made almost thirty deliveries under the Astebatean service. The clients also immediately congratulated us. We knew that in order to have credibility we had to fulfill the one-week delivery promise and we have done so from the beginning until today. In these ten years we have delivered more than 3,500 kits and hoists and in 90% of them we have met the deadline of one week and, the one that has not done so, has an average delay of one day. 

How has this service helped GH over the years? 
In the difficult time in which it was born, it contributed to the development of the subsidiaries and to GH expanding its commercial network by being in the market with innovative products. Today it represents a differentiating value compared to the competition. 

Astebatean helped GH expand its commercial network in a very difficult time” 

Coincidentally, the Astebatean service celebrates its 10th anniversary in another especially difficult year. How has the pandemic affected you? 
The service was only affected the first two weeks of the crisis. At that time, we did not have all the necessary guarantees to meet the deadlines and, before failing, we decided to stop. Nowadays, however, the service works with total normality and efficiency. 

What improvements do you plan to make in the future? Reduce deadlines perhaps? 
From the beginning we set up a monitoring team of ten people who, in addition to guaranteeing compliance with deadlines, works for the continuous improvement of the service and for gradually expanding the range of products available in it. 
At the moment we have not considered reducing the deadlines because we believe that it would not add value. It would only increase the risk of missing deadlines and we believe that this service should be deeply associated with the idea of ​​compliance. It is a guarantee and the main value. 

Although Martín Berakoetxea has been chosen as the protagonist of this interview, both hi and the management of GH Cranes & Components want to thank the team for their great work and effort to make ‘Astebatean’ possible:

Onintza Jáuregui, Aitziber Sodupe, Jon I. Bikuña, Marcelino Ormazabal, Juanjo Lazkano, Gorka Zabaleta, Alazne Gabarain, Bittor Azurmendi, José A. Astigarraga, Juan Miguel Ayestarán, Peio Odriozola, José Antonio Guerra, Víctor Guerra, Eneko Bermejobe, Fidel Guerra , Joseba Auzmendi, Miguel Intsausti, Yoli Fernández, Iñaki Sudupe, Ainara Igiñiz, Mikel Ruiz, Alex Guerra, Asier Etxeberria.

Eskerrik asko! Thanks a lot!

 

 

Martín Berakoetxea: “La ilusión con la que trabajamos en el proyecto hizo que todo el mundo quisiera aportar ideas y soluciones”

El pasado octubre ‘Astebatean’ cumplió diez años, un servicio de GH Cranes que, como su nombre en euskera indica, garantiza el envío al cliente en el plazo de una semana. Para celebrar este aniversario hablamos con uno de sus principales propulsores, Martín Berakoetxea, director industrial de la Unidad de Componentes de GH Cranes.

 Cuéntanos cómo nace el servicio Astebatean
Su nacimiento está íntimamente ligado a la crisis mundial del año 2009. Por un lado, las ventas de las grúas estándar habían bajado en el mercado nacional, por otro, había una necesidad desde nuestras filiales en el extranjero de mejorar los plazos de entrega en lo que a mecanismos se refiere. Esto nos llevó a realizar un exhaustivo análisis y a darnos cuenta de que bien organizados podíamos reducir los plazos considerablemente, y más teniendo en cuenta que contábamos con el compromiso por parte de la Dirección de mantener la plantilla y, por lo tanto, teníamos recursos disponibles.  Otro factor relevante del nacimiento de Astebatean es que en aquel momento se dieron los primeros pasos de lo que hoy son las Unidades de Negocio, los Lantegis. Estos organizaron GH en equipos de personas orientados a sus mercados y clientes. Desde GH entendimos que la crisis representaba al mismo tiempo una oportunidad y, gracias a este avanzado servicio, pudimos adaptarnos a lo que nos exigía el mercado en un momento tan delicado.

“Gracias a este avanzado servicio, pudimos adaptarnos a lo que nos exigía el mercado en un momento tan delicado”

La idea era reducir los plazos de entrega de cinco-seis semanas a tan solo una. No es de extrañar que, en un primer momento, muchos tuviesen dudas…
Así es. La primera reunión el 22 de julio de 2009 no fue fácil, incluso tensa diría yo. Como suele ocurrir con todos los cambios, una parte del equipo vio la iniciativa con recelo y dudó sobre sus posibilidades de éxito. Sin embargo, cuando escucharon los argumentos que teníamos, la gran mayoría se convencieron. Por eso, nada más volver de las vacaciones todos nos pusimos manos a la obra.

Háblanos del equipo que llevó a cabo la puesta en marcha del servicio.
Estaba formado por veintisiete personas que dividimos en tres equipos para analizar el proceso desde la oferta a la entrega: el primero se encargó del inicio, oferta, pedido, etc… el segundo de los procesos de fabricación y proveedores, y el tercero de gestionar las expediciones. De aquellos días recuerdo la intensidad e ilusión con la que trabajamos todos. Un polipasto requiere un grado de personalización muy alto por lo que hubo que pulir cientos de detalles y mantener muchas reuniones con equipos y  proveedores. El objetivo no era fácil pero la ilusión con la que trabajamos en el proyecto hizo que todo el mundo quisiera aportar ideas y soluciones. El éxito del servicio Astebatean es fruto del excelente trabajo conjunto de los tres equipos y de las personas que trabajaron en ellos.

“De los inicios del proyecto recuerdo la intensidad e ilusión con la que trabajamos todos”

¿Cómo fue acogido el servicio por los clientes? ¿Desde el principio pudo cumplirse la promesa ‘aste batean’?
El servicio fue muy bien acogido. Si el 27 de octubre salió el primer polipasto de Beasain, para diciembre ya habíamos hecho casi treinta entregas bajo el servicio Astebatean. Los clientes además enseguida nos felicitaron.  Sabíamos que para tener credibilidad debíamos cumplir la promesa de entrega de una semana y así lo hemos hecho desde el principio hasta hoy. En estos diez años hemos entregado más de 3.500 kits y polipastos y en el 90% de ellos hemos cumplido el plazo de una semana y, la que no lo ha hecho, tiene un retraso medio de un día.

¿En qué ha ayudado este servicio a GH durante todos estos años?
En la complicada época en la que nació contribuyó al desarrollo de las filiales y a que GH ampliara su red comercial estando en el mercado con productos innovadores. A día de hoy representa un valor diferenciador frente a la competencia.

“Astebatean ayudó a que GH ampliara su red comercial en una época muy complicada”

 

Casualmente el servicio Astebatean cumple su décimo aniversario en otro año especialmente complicado. ¿Cómo le ha afectado la pandemia?
El servicio únicamente se vio afectado las dos primeras semanas de la crisis. En ese momento no teníamos todas las garantías necesarias para cumplir los plazos y, antes de fallar, decidimos parar. En la actualidad, en cambio, el servicio funciona con total normalidad y eficacia.

¿Qué mejoras tenéis pensado introducir en el futuro? ¿Reducir plazos tal vez?
Desde el principio implantamos un equipo de seguimiento de diez personas que, además de garantizar el cumplimiento de los plazos, trabaja por la mejora continua del servicio y por ir ampliando el abanico de productos disponibles en el mismo.
De momento no nos hemos planteado reducir los plazos porque creemos que no aportaría valor añadido. Solo incrementaría el riesgo de incumplir plazos y creemos que este servicio debe estar profundamente asociado a la idea del cumplimiento. Es una garantía y el principal valor.

Aunque Martín Berakoetxea haya sido elegido como el protagonista de esta entrevista, tanto él como la dirección de GH Cranes quieren agradecer el trabajo y esfuerzo de todas las personas que hicieron posible Astebatean:
Onintza Jáuregui, Aitziber Sodupe, Jon I. Bikuña, Marcelino Ormazabal, Juanjo Lazkano, Gorka Zabaleta, Alazne Gabarain, Bittor Azurmendi,  José A. Astigarraga, Juan Miguel Ayestarán, Peio Odriozola, José Antonio Guerra, Víctor Guerra, Eneko Ayerbe, Fidel Bermejo, Joseba Auzmendi, Miguel Intsausti, Yoli Fernández, Iñaki Sudupe, Ainara Igiñiz, Mikel Ruiz, Alex Guerra, Asier Etxeberria
Eskerrik asko! ¡Muchas gracias! 

“Since I travelled to GH Headquarters in Spain, now when I look at product, I picture the person putting everything together to bring the piece to life, and that’s a really nice connection”.

Tim Marshall is Operations Manager in GH Cranes & Components for the US Market since 2015 but has been in the machinery industry for more than 35 years. Based in Terrell (Texas), he is skilled in material handling equipment, machine tools, operations management, heavy equipment, and electrical wiring.

 You have recently achieved the milestone of being in the crane business for more than 17 years (at least 15 of them working with GH). Did it ever cross your mind you would stay for almost 2 decades?
I have been building crane systems for more than 35 years. I have always enjoyed solving material-handling challenges. I was a machinist for several years before I got into management. We built and installed crane systems for handling various materials during our expansion projects. I had previous experience servicing CNC machinery and rubber molding machinery, troubleshooting problems with controls, which are somewhat similar to overhead crane equipment.

What did you know about GH when you started working with our equipment and what did you make to change the previous hoist brand you were using in your cranes?
To be honest, I didn’t know anything about GH, but I really liked the product as soon as I started working with the brand. I really like the design of GH equipment compared to some of the other manufactures, the ease of maintenance and service, together with the support that GH provided made the transition really smooth for me.

Looking back, has GH met your expectations? What would you say has been the most enriching experience while using GH products?
Definitely yes. I feel that it was the right move and in the right direction. From a personal point of view, I would say that visiting the GH factory in Spain in 2008 as a customer was a great experience, I believe that being “on the other side” for once helped me learn a great deal about the company.

Everything behind the scenes is very impressive. Getting to see the process in the factory first hand, looking at the way the equipment was manufactured… After getting to know the people behind the machine, you value more the finished product and now, many times when I look at product, I picture the person putting everything together to bring the piece to life, and that’s a really nice connection.

 In general, I am very happy with the quality we supply and support we receive, but there was this one time I  was really impressed with the support we received on one of the larger jobs we did using GH equipment at a large equipment manufacturing company. Other vendors were having major problems getting the cranes to fit in the window we had available, and GH was able to do it with special design girders and hoist/trolley configurations. 

“Now we are able to turn around jobs quicker than our competitors thanks to producing cranes faster”

Back in 2015, GH Cranes & Components decided to step ahead in the US market and acquired F&G Industries, so automatically you became part of the GH family. How would you describe the transition from F&G to GH?
Moving from one company to another is always challenging and people are sometimes resistant to changes, but I have to say that the transition was fairly smooth. Thanks to becoming part of GH, the upgrades to the manufacturing processes have made a big impact in our ability to manufacture quality equipment at a much quicker pace. However, we are always seeking to improve, grow and adapt.

What do you think are the main challenges GH faces in such a competitive market like the US market?
Probably being able to sell the quality and features of GH equipment. Obviously price is a heavy driver, but if we manage to quote special cranes and features and larger capacities, are key to make us stand out. Providing service and technical support are key factors in our growth.

What do you think is the main value GH is adding to the American market? What are its main opportunities?
GH has opened up some opportunities to make us more competitive here, so we are now able to bid on some much larger jobs for special cranes and features, also bringing opportunities with European companies in the USA.

We also have more inventory available and are able to turn around jobs quicker than our competitors thanks to producing cranes faster.

 The standard and smaller capacities is extremely competitive but we have customers that have been with us for many years, who are not buying strictly on price, because they know our quality and the reduced cost of ownership. Their loyalty is very important to us.

“We are determined to continue to improve and grow the GH Cranes brand in the US market”

Teamwork and people are two of the main pillars for GH, what would you highlight. These last 6 months we have gone through an unprecedented situation that has affected us all, both professionally and personally. How has it impacted in Texas?
It has had an impact on some of our contact with customers for sales and service. It seems most of our customers are essential business to the supply chain, so they have not been affected. The prices of oil and gas have had an impact on some of our customers, impacting sales and service. It seems it is going to be a slow return for our area.

Would you say there is or has been a positive side to it too? Will things be different from now on or will we (somehow) go back to the old days?
It has given us the chance to access different and new customers. Having to get out there and work harder to sell is somehow positive. Although we have had to challenge ourselves to stay in touch with clients, supporting our commercial activity with digital tools, we like meeting face-to-face and I think we will go back to that as much as we can.

To finish, what are your future plans within GH?  What would like for GH in the near future?
As a team and as a company, we are determined to continue to improve and grow the GH Cranes brand in the US market. Developing a strong reputation in the crane industry of providing quality and innovative designed equipment.

Hopefully expanding our facility in the near future, to continue improving our processes, lead times and quality, also building our own support team in the USA, and grow our parts and service department.