This month we are delighted to be shining the light on Naue, who we have an exclusive supply agreement with for Geogrids.
We talked to Andy Cracknell, Director and Head of the UK business, who has been dealing with SIG on an exclusive basis since 2011. Naue has seen many changes with SIG over the years and has ridden some economic and corporate storms during that time. But they have been a great supply partner that’s stayed true to its strategy and Andy explains why he believes this has paid off.
How did you get into the industry?
I worked in the coal mining industry for British Coal during the 1980’s where I trained to be a mechanic underground. I was there for 9 years until the mines starting closing in the mid 80’s and I then worked for a company that supplied cementitious products into coal mines. I worked on the engineering then sales side of this business selling products into coal mines to hold up the roofs and to make soft ground firmer for transportation, which I did for a further 11 years. I then moved to Fosroc and worked there for 8 years on waterproofing and concrete repairs before I moved to Naue in 2005.
How did Naue get into the manufacturing of Geogrids?
Naue is a German based family business that started in 1969 making geosynthetic products for the stuffing of seats in automotive industry. Naue under happy circumstances went into making geosynthetic products for a hydraulic engineering programme to stop the erosion of river banks in the early 1970’s and the geosythetics business has developed and grown since that time.
When I joined Naue, the business had migrated to be primarily an environmental company supplying lining systems to landfill construction, which are solutions to stop nasties being put in the ground. But Naue wanted to grow into new markets so I joined them to drive infrastructure sales with their geogrid range of products used predominantly for ground stablisation.
How long has Naue been supplying the Construction Accessories Division at SIG?
Naue’s introduction to SIG was through an SIG acquisition of CMS (Construction Material Supplies) in 2010. CMS had a geotechnical side to it and so when SIG bought it, it purchased the package so we have been partnering SIG exclusively in the UK since 2011.
The agreement with SIG Construction Accessories division meant that the Naue products were available through the SIG branch network nationwide providing much easier access for contractors than the previous route. We carried out product training in SIG branches and the business grew. The Naue UK office in Warrington, where we have traded for almost 20 years, has a team dedicated to getting Naue geogrids specified. They work on designs for engineering consultancies that meet the project specification and then if we are successful at tender stage, we put the business through the SIG branch network and they have accounts with the contractors in the locality.
How does your exclusive supply agreement with SIG work?
As a manufacturer one has to select the route to market for their products and there are other manufacturers that supply similar products to Naue that sell through multiple distributors. There are positives and negatives for either option, but Naue decided early on that the best route was an exclusive agreement with SIG CA. SIG only stock Naue Geogrids and Naue only supply Geogrids via SIG CA and it works for us.
It means that our relationship is close, it elevates us as a supplier within the SIG group, they understand our products and if we encounter any challenges we work closely with SIG to discuss the best course of action. There have been times during the past 12 years when it has been more difficult, like during the 2018-2020 SIG restructure which is well documented, but we sat it out and that loyalty to SIG has paid off.
In 2020 when David Hope rejoined the SIG business he sent a big thank you to the owners of the Naue business for sticking with SIG during their corporate restructure and those good wishes revitalised the relationship. He also asked that when SIG got their specialist team in place that the key product team from SIG CA visit the Naue German facilities to once again see the size, the scale, investment, technology and innovation that’s happening at Naue and that visit happened early May this year. It was a milestone in our renewed growth journey with the SIG business.
How do you view SIG Construction Accessories today?
I work closely with SIG and the Construction Accessories team and they have now put people in positions that have the skillset, drive and ambition to take the business forward and its refreshing after going through a difficult time. It works well for us in the UK and we have grown three-fold with the new team at SIG CA and I have a lot of trust in them to drive that business forward. We have been looking at some exciting sustainable product developments with them, so watch this space.