Routeco to success
Founded in 1978, Routeco is a distributor of industrial control systems and automation products to machine builders, systems integrators and large factories. In 1998, Routeco established its first overseas base in Austria and then, in October 2013, set up Routeco BV in Best, the Netherlands located near Eindhoven’s Brainport region in Brabant.
Routeco has customers across a wide range of industries, from food processing and packaging to utilities companies, and serves those in the UK from its head office in Milton Keynes and 13 regional centres.
“We have a very strong business in the UK as exclusive distributors of Rockwell Automation products,” explains Tony Usher, Group Operations Director for Routeco, “and now we’ve successfully established a similar set up in the Netherlands. We chose Best, in the Brabant region, partly because our supplier Rockwell Automation have their European warehouse there but also for the excellent transport links and concentration of potential customers along the southern corridor of the Netherlands. From our new location in Best, we currently provide the customer service and distribution of industrial control and automation products to the Dutch market. Looking to the future, the proximity to other markets in the Benelux region is an added bonus. For all these reasons, Brabant was the obvious choice for us; we did not really need to consider any alternatives.”
“We have found the Netherlands to be a very easy place to do business. It is very much aligned with the UK in terms of the business culture, attitude and even the language."
Happily, Tony reports that the process of setting up the new business has been very smooth. “We have found the Netherlands to be a very easy place to do business,” he says. “It is very much aligned with the UK in terms of the business culture, attitude and even the language. Crucially, we took the decision to recruit a local team. We currently have 12 people, including a country manager and expect to grow our Best location further. The entire team is Dutch and I think this has made a big difference."
“Dutch employment laws were the one area where we found differences to the UK. I would say they are a little more complicated in the Netherlands. But the NFIA pointed us in the right direction for legal expertise, so we were able to employ quite a few people in a short period of time. The NFIA and BOM (the Brabant Development Agency) also put us in touch with recruitment agencies, so we had local people who understood the local market. When it came to finding premises, they did the initial research and narrowed down the options for us. They opened doors for networking with potential clients and helped us on a range of day-to-day issues."
"The Dutch are open-minded people: that’s refreshing and means we’ve been accepted very readily with no barriers in doing business."
“All in all, the NFIA and BOM together provided a great interface; we felt as if we had a local person on the ground even though we were not yet in the country and that was very useful in those early stages. They were enthusiastic and welcoming in all our meetings and did everything they could to make it an easy transition. We’re pretty self-sufficient now,” concludes Tony, “but their input was invaluable.”