Fero Samoa Turns One!

It’s hard to believe that Fero Samoa turns one in November and I think it’s fair to say it has been a great year.

 

Back in 2017 when we heard about the closure of OE manufacturing a simple idea was sown. Who knew that this idea would grow into the success it has today. Not only are we able to offer clients offshore manufacturing, we are also able to offer assembly and sub-assembly expertise in this world class facility. This gives us the ability to offer Fero customers lower MOQs whilst delivering fast turnarounds due to the country’s proximity to both Australia and New Zealand.

 

Fero Samoa Production Plant

 

Fero now has a team of over 100 staff operating in Samoa who are trained in lean manufacturing techniques which ensures high levels of quality and productive delivery. The senior management team have over 50 years experience and are well placed to continue this growth, expecting the payroll to grow to over 500 staff in the next 4 years!

 

 

We have also been able to share expertise between factories in NZ and Samoa which is very beneficial to the company.

 

Turning one is a major milestone for Fero Samoa and we are delighted to celebrate and say thanks to everyone that has been involved. Fero Samoa would not be the success it is today if it wasn’t for the support of the staff, government, suppliers and the Samoan people.

 

We look forward to our continued growth in the Australasian manufacturing industry.

Each year we send out a survey to our customer base, which gives us a snapshot of what our customers think of Fero and the service we provide. Fero has seen some big changes over the past 2 years with the opening of the new factory in Samoa and the growth in NZ. And that’s why we feel it is important that we get some honest feedback from our customers to maintain our service levels and to see where we need to improve.

 

Looking back over the past few years it’s been great to see that the whole manufacturing industry has seen positive growth and this has been backed up in our survey with 67% of our customers expecting to see more growth within the next 18 months.

 

The overall survey results were once again positive with the majority of customers being very happy with their relationship with Fero and 100% of customers being satisfied using Fero as a supplier for their business.

 

We are very proud of the fact that over 60% of our customers have been doing business with Fero for over 5 years and all of our customers believe they have a good professional relationship with us. When we asked them what the major advantages were when working with us, they said that they had seen a reduction in costs, lead times and assembly times and that Fero were a reliable source for components.

 

Fero Results 2018Our customers also thought that we were extremely responsive (87.5%), friendly and that our quality was better than most of the competitors. This is all great news and something we are very proud of both here in NZ and Samoa.

 

But of course it can’t be all good stuff and to be honest what we find really important is the ‘other’ stuff. The ‘other’ stuff is not necessarily what you want to hear but it’s the stuff that will make us a better company in the long run.

 

 

 

So here’s the stuff that you thought we could improve on…

Warehouse and dispatch – this is always a problematic area and one that we aim to continuously improve. We understand that we don’t get it right every time but despite all this it was great to see that 100% of customers did receive their orders in a timely fashion and 38% are on time evertime.

General Professionalism and Consistency – although 75% of customers see Fero as being very or extremely professional we did see a 14% decrease in this figure. This is something we will strive to pull back throughout the coming year. We also noticed that although our consistency has been increasing over the past few years we still need to be mindful of in our assembly and production.

Added Value – We saw a reduction in the amount of added value Fero was seen to be giving clients dropping to 62.5%. We see this as an important benefit to our customers and we will address this with our staff.

 

How Can Fero Improve

 

And here are some fun facts to finish off with:Fero Smiles

100% of customers believed that Feros’ communication was excellent.

60% of customers when asked what Fero could improve on said ‘NOTHING’

88% of customers would likely recommend Fero to a friend or colleague

 

Thankyou to everyone that took the time to complete the survey and we look forward to continuing to improve our service to you.

Bob Jones Account Manager FeroBob Jones has joined the Fero team as an Acount Manager and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. With 40 plus years in the industrial, electrical distribution industry Bob certainly knows a thing or two! He has been in both sales and management roles within his career so truly understands the processes involved.

 

Working with companies such as CSL Cuthbert Stewart Ltd and Connection Technologies he has been able to provide solutions for electrical, electronic and connectivity applications for over 35 years.

 

He has an extensive knowledge of the electrical industry and over the years has gained a lot of experience in both the manufacturing and distribution of electrical products.

We see this being a great fit for Fero and look forward to Bob growing with the business and management team.

 

Bob’s role within Fero is to work with Key Accounts assisting in identifying new wire technology and component supply solutions to both existing and new customers. We are really excited about this and the opportunities it may bring.

 

Bob is not only proficient in this industry he can also hold his own at softball and rugby, being selected in the mid 70’s for the NZ Softball Team. Now with a grown up family and three magnificent grandchildren, Bob enjoys the family life and has just celebrated 40 years of marriage to his wife, Barbara.

 

 

Although much of our core business is in the production of wiring looms, it would be a mistake to think that this is all we do. As a business we see ourselves as providing assembly services for manufacturers. Often this involves the assembly of wiring looms to streamline the manufacturing process, but at other times we use our teams to assemble other elements as part of a sub-assembly process.

 

Sub assembly solutions

 

We use our resources, plant and systems to run sub assembly projects for various clients, combining our electrical experience with other materials. Often these types of projects start with a conversation about wiring but then develop into an understanding that we can provide more solutions and take on more sub assembly.

 

Due to our very strong relationships with Chinese suppliers we’re winning business in Australia and even Europe. We’re using our connections to source a whole variety of materials, and moving beyond simply wiring solutions.

 

As we take on more sub assembly tasks, we’re proving ourselves to be more efficient in speed of turnaround, more consistent in quality and often much more economical for smaller businesses that don’t want to tie up capital in staff costs.

Let’s Talk

If you’re interested in outsourcing more of your sub assembly to free up staff for other roles, or to reduce your capital outlay and/or inventory costs, we would love to talk to you. We have built up some excellent case studies recently that demonstrate our ability and prove the business for outsourced sub assembly.

Heading to China

In the next few weeks we’re heading back over to China and talking to our partners about a variety of materials, including aluminium extrusions for an upcoming project.

 

Call Sam on 09 274 0104, and discover more.

Fero Engineering ManagerAt Fero we really value our staff and believe it’s important to get to know the person behind the desk, so to speak!  On average our staff stay with us for 7 years so by the time they leave they are well and truly part of the Fero family.

 

With the recent shuffle of staff we thought it would be a good idea to introduce our new engineering manager, Cata to your properly and for you to hear his story…..

 

Cata was born and grew up in Fagaras, a small historic town situated in Central Transilvania (Romania). He studied hard and after he finished high school he moved to Brasov (probably one of the best cities in Eastern Europe he reckons) where he studied Engineering Technology for 5 years (Bachelors Degree) and Mechatronics & Robotics for another 2 (Master’s Degree).

 

He moved to New Zealand in 2014 and loves the beauty of our country and the people living within it. Cata and his wife say moving here is one of the best decisions they have ever made and they have created a home and a family here now.

 

Over the course of his career, Cata has worked at ALFA Group, Aerotec Romania and NZ Window Shades. He has provided leadership and oversight in the design and implementation of high quality manufacturing processes within automotive, aerospace and manufacturing environments. He has played a key role in new factory start-ups, quality improvement processes and workflow streamlining projects, employing his Lean Management skills and Kaizen training to deliver significant improvements to workplace quality and productivity. His efforts have saved his employers significant costs and boosted profitability by reducing overhead and increasing the quality of finished goods.

 

We are really looking forward to Cata putting all this experience into practise at Fero and look forward to him growing with the business and management team. When we asked Cata what his short and long term goals were at Fero they were very clear:

  1. to obtain ISO 9001 certifications and organise the engineering department in a LEAN way
  2. to implement TS 16949 and make Fero a world class manufacturer in automotive and other fields

When I asked Cata what the biggest lesson he had learnt throughout his life he said his parents had taught him “ the ability to value and appreciate people” and by doing this he believes that you will always get the best out of them.

If you would like to contact Cata regarding any engineering project then please do not hesitate to contact him at catalin.goran@fero.co.nz

No matter what industry you are in, no matter what products you make, the key to good business is to understand your customers.

 

Without these customers Fero would not have a business and that’s why we feel it is important once a year to get some honest feedback. Of course it’s always nice to hear the good stuff but what we find really important is the ‘other’ stuff. The ‘other’ stuff is not necessarily what you want to hear but it’s the stuff that will make us a better company in the long run.

 

This year our account managers contacted a range of customers and invited them to complete an online survey. (Thanks to all those that completed this!) We had a great response and are happy that the results received give a fair indication of how Fero is seen and what we need to improve on.

 

Last year we set ourselves some internal goals. These were:

 

  • To maintain customer satisfaction
  • To improve our delivery and despatch
  • To inform customers of all Fero’s offering

 

How did we do??
Overall, I think that we can give ourselves a pat on the back and say well done as there were lots of positive comments coming from customers that were very satisfied with Fero’s service. Infact 90% of customers said that they would happily recommend Fero to a friend. This figure is great but it has dropped by 5% on last year so we will definitely be looking into why this has happened.

How are fero?

From what you said in the surveys, Fero is seen as a very professional company that is responsive, has good communication skills and adds value to a customer’s business. We are seen as friendly and helpful and good at what we do. Our quality of product is seen as better than most competitors and our price is seen as ‘about the same’.

 

We supply most of our customers with assembly/wire harnesses (90%) but component supply has also increased over the past year with us supplying this to 38% of customers. Awareness of our other services like pressure injection moulding and offshore manufacturing are still quite low so we will be speaking to you about these next year if it’s appropriate.

 

When asked what improvements customers would like to see Fero make, there were a few clear winners. There was a few comments on the need for more visibility when it comes to pricing and there is a need to review how we confirm orders etc. so we will be looking into our processes here with the admin team.

 

Another ongoing issue that we are aware of and it was indeed one of our goals for this year, was to improve the warehouse and dispatch area. The good news is that more of you are getting your orders on time every time (23%) and 67% of customers are ‘mostly’ getting them on time but the bad news is that you are still not that happy with the process. Therefore we will be reviewing this part of the business in the new year to see how we can make this more streamlined and get your orders to you in a more timely fashion, every time!

Orders Fero

We also feel that the engineering team has a lot to offer your business whether it’s coming up with more cost effective solutions or even designing a new prototype. Therefore we will be reviewing how our engineers engage with your business and will be putting some target response times around when and how they come back to you.

 

So in summary.. We are happy with the results of the survey – from your feedback we can see that some of our service levels dropped slightly so we will work hard to maintain these better in 2017.

Fero thumbs upIn 2016 we implemented a completely new production system – it was something we had to do, but it wasn’t easy to implement and there were a few frustrations. These appear to now be ironed out and the way is clear to focus on improvement, backed up with a more efficient system.

 

Thanks
We would like to say thank you to our customers for taking the time to complete our survey. We certainly always learn from your comments and we will strive to keep your frustrations at bay and keep that smile on your face in 2017!

 

As business evolves so does the workforce around us and we feel very blessed to have such a great team of people at Fero. Often people see change as something to worry about but at Fero we see it as an opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge from others  – which in turn will help us get where we want to be.   

 

Some of you maybe aware that we have recently experienced a few changes to our staffing structure, so we wanted to introduce some of the new faces of Fero.

 

Cata Goran is our new Engineering Manager who brings with him a wealth of knowledge.  Cata has been in NZ for a couple of years now but originally hails from Romania where he has spent a large part of his career working for Alpha Romania.  This automotive background and training in Quality Management Systems, Engineering, Mechatronics and Lean will add an incredible amount of value going forward.

 

Agnus Yin has come into the business as Financial Controller.  Already she is showing that she was the right choice for this role and is adding huge value to us.  Agnes went to school and trained as an accountant in NZ.  She worked in NZ in a couple of roles before moving back to China to take up a number of senior financial and operational roles.  She has now moved back to NZ with her family and is excited to join the team at Fero.

 

Robert Lin joins our accountant management team from Taiwan.  Robert was also educated in NZ before returning to Taiwan where he has been in a number of roles.  Most recently he was a sales manager for an electronics manufacturing company and has some great experience in our industry.

 

Jerry Wu is our new component sourcing engineer.  He has extensive knowledge of sourcing and manufacturing in China.  As our main point of contact between engineering and our Chinese suppliers he is filling a critical role at Fero.

 

It is always tough to see people move on to other challenges and they do leave some gaps in the team for a while.  However in a fast growing and developing company such as Fero we see some real benefits that new people bring the team with some much needed skills and knowledge to take us to the next level.

 

We now have a very knowledgeable, experienced and professional management team that gives us some real depth.

 

There’s exciting times ahead and we have an awesome team to take us there.

 

New faces at Fero

New faces at Fero: Jerry Wu, Agnes Yin, Cata Goran, Robert Lin (from left to right)

 

At Fero, we are not just about manufacturing.

 

It is important to us that we understand and help our partners grow within their business. A prime example of this is when PRO-FORM came to us with a request to add more functionality into their product.

 

PRO-FORM is a NZ family-run plastics moulding company that make bed liners, canopies and sports lids for a range of utes throughout the world. With the design of the new SLT sport lid came a request to modernise these products with an auto opening system which lifts the lid and activates a light. This was something our R&D team could certainly help with.

 

Prototype with Fero

At Fero we are lucky enough to have an in-house design and development team who understand vehicle looms and who can create a prototype quickly. Having an open source environment has enabled the partnership between Fero and PRO-FORM to develop quickly and it’s this understanding that has enabled the whole design process to evolve. This evolution has given us the knowledge to develop ideas and come up with solutions that make the functionality of the product second to none.

 

The PRO-FORM team understand their product very well and because more and more farmers and tradesmen are using utes they recognised a need for this modernisation. There were 3 main requirements that we needed to build into the design:

 

  1. A lid that automatically opens
  2. An automatic light which comes on when the lid is opened
  3. A central locking system that included the lid of the ute

By working together, our R&D team came up with a solution that met all requirements and has even given the PRO-FORM team the option of opening the lid by remote control or by touch button. The prototype was a big success and we started producing the looms and lights locally at our factory in Auckland.

Pro-form tray and lid with Fero

Due to this success we have begun to look into options for taking some of the production to China. For many NZ companies this would not be a feasible option but because we have such strong relationships with our chinese partners we are able to benefit from the cost downs and pass these on. Currently we are getting samples approved so manufacturing and production can begin.

 

The product has really taken the market by storm and PRO-FORM are now selling this system all over the world, they are even exhibiting at the world’s leading auto trade fair ‘Automechanika’ in Frankfurt this month.  

At Fero we like to think of ourselves as a company that can make things happen and we get excited about helping companies design and build a better product. It’s especially exciting when it’s a New Zealand owned, family run business like ourselves. We are proud that we can help put NZ on centre stage. We know that relationships are key and without such an open and honest environment with PRO-FORM we could never had developed something so quickly.

 

This is what Nick Smith from PRO-FORM had this to say about Fero:

 

Fero and Pro-form

“The whole team at Fero worked hard to develop this solution. They were great at simply listening, and then coming back with a sensible response, on budget, on spec and on time. That’s the beauty of working with a local NZ owned business that share the same goals as ourselves.”

 

So if you have an idea and would like some help bringing it to market then we would love to hear from you.

Fero Quality stampAt Fero we pride ourselves on offering the best service and quality we can to our customers. But as with all things, how do we know if we are hitting the mark or not and what do our customers really think of us?

 

Last year we embarked on a journey of truths and asked our customers a series of survey questions. As many of you will know the results from this were very encouraging but also outlined key areas we needed to focus on in 2015. Some of these included:

 

  • improving customer satisfaction
  • working on relationships and adding value to customers’ businesses
  • informing customers about ALL Fero’s offerings
  • reducing lead times and improving delivery schedules

 

So with this in mind we developed a strategy that would enable us to build our business and help us achieve results in the NZ manufacturing industry that we could be proud of.

 

Wiring loom manufacture

This year has seen some big changes within Fero, with machines arriving that have enabled us to increase our capacity by 50% and with the implementation of our new MRP system. With changes come frustrations and we have certainly experienced a few ‘pull your hair’ out moments but these have now been ironed out and we know that in the long run this system will be invaluable. Thank you all for being patient with us as we’ve worked through this.

 

Given the success of the survey in 2014 we wanted to see if we had improved over the year. The results from this year’s survey has once again been encouraging. Not only have we seen some real improvements in what our clients think of Fero, we have also seen a positive attitude to growth in the manufacturing industry which has increased by 10% compared to last year.

 

Some of the highlights for us are in the overall figures, and we are delighted that 97.5% of customers are satisfied with Fero as a supplier to their business, an increase of 8.5% from last year. Our clients also said that 95% would happily recommend Fero to a friend, again an improvement of 9%. These numbers provide a great benchmark that we can maintain and build on year upon year.

Fero - Customer saitisfaction survey

Interestingly, when customers were asked about Fero’s capabilities they were still not fully aware of everything Fero offers especially in Moulding and Chinese partnerships. We feel it is important that customers are aware of all our capabilities so we can assist them in a broad number of ways. Customers also expressed an interest in sharing ideas with our engineering team and we will certainly continue to offer this service throughout 2016.

 

Fero survey results 2015

Another key area we wanted to improve was our relationships with businesses and finding ways that could begin to add value to our clients. Results indicate that our reps and the company as a whole have improved on this by around 10%. Our professionalism has increased by 14%, and 96% of clients believe that they have a good relationship with us (an increase of 8% from 2014). Understanding clients needs has also increased and we look forward to continuing this on a yearly basis.

 

We are happy that 50% of you thought we were ‘extremely responsive’ (an increase of 25% from 2014) and that 60% of customers believe that Fero’s service is better than our competitors but we would like to see these figures increase next year. We know that service and consistency is very important to the industry and our customers, and we will be making this one of our goals for 2016.

 

Along with service comes the issue of quality and some customers pointed out that our quality control could be better. We know that the MRP system has contributed to some of these issues but a review into lead-time, order notes and incorrect paperwork will be reviewed in the new year.

 

Many of our clients had read and found the newsletter content useful and informative so we look forward to continuing to send these out every quarter.

 

All in all the survey has once again given us some key indicators to follow up on, and provided insights into ways to improve our service and strengthen the NZ manufacturing sector as a whole.

 

Thank you once again to all those that completed the survey. We look forward to sharing our improvements with you next year.

Fero Thank you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of the on-going LEAN work we’re carrying out here at Fero, and in answer to some of the feedback we received from customers in our survey, we’ve taken a good hard look at our customer service and made some significant changes. The aim is that the right people talk to each other on any given project that comes our way. It’s meant making more people available to our clients, throughout the company.

It is about putting the right people in to the right conversations. Our customers know a huge amount about what they are requiring and we must always provide expert advice and consultation.

Engineering steps out of the darkness

In the old days we kept our engineers at arms length from our customers, preferring to let them get on with things and work hard in the back office. That’s all changed now. We need our engineers to be able to talk to customers’ engineers; talking the same language means a much quicker result. We now encourage our engineers to join us in meetings which might involve those more technical conversations. Plus they’re only a phone call away and more active, intrinsic players in project teams. The key is the Right Conversations with the Right People, resulting in getting the job done faster, issues resolved better and clients feeling happier.

Fero Engineering Team

Account Management adds value

Our account managers still are the key representative of our business to our customers and will head up project teams, ensuring that we are working constructively towards better solutions. Little has changed there, as most of you were happy with them, their professionalism and their understanding of your business. It’s this last aspect though that we want to develop, enabling them to get right inside their clients’ businesses and be proactive in suggesting improvements to manufacturing processes. They need to be adding value to your business and be seen as part of your team as well as ours. Over time, we’ve found that this partnership approach works best for all parties and it’s a relationship we’re trying to develop with all our customers.

Customer Service Reps

We’ve created a number of roles that focus on customer service, taking responsibility for and answering those more general questions around deliveries, accounts, general logistics and timings. They work with the Account Managers to ensure projects run smoothly. They cover off some of the day-to-day project details allowing our Account Managers to spend more time out and about learning about your business and adding greater value.

So, we would like to say THANKS. Without your honest feedback, these changes might not have been made. Hopefully you will all soon see the benefits to your business as we roll out this new approach to all our clients.