From an HQ near Amsterdam, Pos Service Holland reaches from Johannesburg to Shanghai – with reman supporting its global starter and alternator wholesale business
Over the last quarter of a century, Pos Service Holland (PSH) has built a strong reputation as a wholesaler of starters and alternators on a global scale. An international, Tier 2 company, whose tentacles stretch across several continents, it employs 30 people and has operations in Spain, South Africa and China, as well as offices in Belgium and Germany, with stock capable of being interchanged between subsidiaries or delivered to customers within days.
This puts PSH in direct competition with some of the biggest suppliers and distributors around the world – but that is not the only string to its bow since a significant portion of its business is in remanufacturing, with Germany the largest market. “About a third of what we sell is reman or rebuild,” says Hans Pos, sales/service director. “We reman in Poland with four companies.”
It is a family firm: Pos lives next door with his wife and two-year old daughter, while his elder brother works on marketing and finance. Overseeing everything is their father (Hans senior), who started the business in 1992 and is still actively involved, doing everything from invoicing to driving a fork-lift in the warehouse.
He started PSH after leaving his former employer, which had been bought by a Japanese company: “When people are used to start working at 7.30am and you are now instructed to start at 8.30, suppliers ask why they don’t get a reply immediately.” Three of his original start-up crew are still with the company today.
Today, about a fifth of PSH’s revenue comes from selling cores. “Another 10% of our revenue comes from cores sent to Poland for reman, and that’s increasing every year,” Pos continues.
Finding the cores in the first place is a major part of the operation – they come from customers, core dealers and scrapyards. “The cores are all mixed in together, we don’t know what we’re getting,” Pos continues. “We buy per kilo or per item – per kilo is the best. It is always a challenge to find new partners that can provide used cores because we look for all makes, globally. Secondly we need to get the supply in: we’ve designed our own packaging material which we provide the supplier in order to get the used cores distributed to us in a good manner.”
PSH set up its cores division in 2004: cores are transformed into reman parts which are then sold to other territories, in particular to North Africa, where there is a burgeoning market in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. “There are incredible quantities in Algeria,” Pos grins. “It’s a big country. It’s more difficult in Europe because everyone wants new.”
Indeed, the firm has 2,000 customers in Europe, who all require different brands and can choose from OE, OES and reman products. “That’s why we carry such a wide range,” Pos says. Based near Amsterdam, the company stocks more than 9,000 types of starter and alternator, covering more than 85% of the automotive and agriculture industry – it is no wonder that the warehouse at its HQ is now four times bigger than in 1993. Business is split equally between passenger cars and trucks/agricultural machinery.
The company imports various brands, such as OEM starter motors and alternators from Bosch, Denso, Leece Neville, Mitsubishi, Prestolite, Valeo and Visteon. PSH has its own label, called TWA, which is available in new or reman versions, and has also developed a brand – called ‘+Line’ - of 900 or so different starter motors and alternators, which are designed to be interchangeable with original parts from manufacturers such as Bosch, Valeo and Hitachi.
The company wants to use its existing network of contacts to expand in other ways. “We’re trying to get the Polish companies to order the new parts they will need for reman from PSH,” Pos explains. “It’s a good business, done on a handshake.”
The company embraced technology early and now has a thriving online business, making up 85% of its sales. Its website is easy to use, not least because product images are shot in 3D and can be rotated 360 degrees by prospective customers. This sort of attention to detail makes a difference, the company believes.
Business is growing at its Johannesburg office, Pos says, where PSH is a distributor, and imports from China and India. A combination of import taxes and quality makes South Africa an attractive place to assemble spare parts.
The company picked up some US customers following the Big R/ReMaTecUSA show in Las Vegas last year. But Pos says: “It was hard. Americans are really tough and don’t like to import from other countries.” However, business is moving and he is confident that PSH can provide the US market with the service it requires.
PSH began importing from China at the turn of the century. “Back then it was a good price but the quality was terrible,” Pos recalls. “But over the last 15 years the quality has improved a lot. We’re not looking for the cheapest – only good quality.” He is happy that the company’s subsidiary in Shanghai is heading in the right direction. “A lot of suppliers now have someone who can speak English.” In this international business, that makes a lot of difference for foreign companies.
Like so many people in the reman business, Pos started young. “I was here when I was ten,” he smiles. “Working in the cores department, cleaning the warehouse after school.”
Every company has its own ways of doing things and PSH is no different. For example, it has its own numbering system, a unique nine-digit number describing the brand, voltage, type, number of teeth and mounting-holes of the starter motors; with the alternators, the number describes voltage, type and amps. “You learn a lot, holding the units physically in your hands,” he smiles. “When you see the numbers, you know how to sell them.”
Testing of starters and alternators is also a vital part of the process – so much so that PSH has bought the Motoplat brand, and its machines vary from light use to industrial 24-hour, ongoing testing, says PSH’s technical director Nardo Stremmelaar.
Of course, the business is only likely to get more complicated as technology changes: many in reman think that the rise in the production of electric vehicles will have a significant impact on the industry but Pos does not look too bothered. “Maybe we can start with that but it will really take another 20 years,” he says. In the meantime, the battery business does not appeal: “It is not so interesting for us because the margins are small.” Electric motors are perhaps more of a possibility. “Bosch already supplies them but we’re thinking about it,” he says.
That seems to sum PSH up: an ambitious company which is growing from firm foundations and always looking for the next opportunity – wherever in the world that may be.