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Since Axelent was founded in the autumn of 1990, our sights have been set on a market that extends beyond Sweden’s borders. Our eye has been on the horizon, and our quest to explore new regions has always been there.
So plans for expansion are an important part of the company’s DNA.
What started out as the Nordic countries and Germany, has today expanded into operations covering 60 countries, with a turnover of SEK 800 million. In those countries where Axelent doesn’t have its own companies registered, we have close collaborations with partners, distributors and subsidiaries.
– “It’s the size of the market that matters. Not all markets can be on a par with Germany and its roughly SEK 100m turnover. On smaller markets, sales work is handled by partners and distributors. If we do see a stellar potential for growth on a given market however, we will always endeavour to have our own presence and to cultivate sales towards our own products,” explains Stefan Axelsson, Head of Exports at Axelent.
At the time of writing, Axelent is upping its presence in Asia, including a new logistics centre in Bangkok, and increased operations in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, among others. The company is also looking at developing in South and Central America, for further expansion into countries like Chile, Peru, Mexico and Brazil. Markets such as Russia and some of the African countries are also very much of interest.
From a global perspective, Axelent’s customers are to be found in automation - in the automobile and aeronautics industries - both directly or as subcontractors. According to Stefan, regardless of the markets on which the customers operate, there are more similarities than differences.
“The intention of our products is the same wherever in the world the customer operates: protecting people and increasing security in the workplace. Mindset and and background knowledge do however vary a great deal between Western and developing countries. Here we have a more extensive framework of regulations covering, for example, personnel, and we have a better understanding of softer values,” says Stefan.
One of the greatest lessons we’ve learned during these years is that things always take a little longer and cost a little more than planned for.
“Even if you have the best product in the world, it can still be more difficult and take more time than you expect. The sales process, with the face-to-face meetings, take a long time, and we currently put a lot of resources into internal training of our staff. In the future, the majority of sales will probably be digital, so we have to keep up with tech developments and adapt to the new conditions,” continues Stefan.
It’s also worth realising that the world has actually got smaller during the 30 years that Axelent has been active.
“Distances have lessened and nothing seems particularly far away these days. Today’s communications have shortened the distances between us and the rest of the world, and made it so much easier to move between sites and run businesses in other countries, wherever they may be.”
But taking on new markets can often require a great deal of research in order to learn the local cultures and determine what sales approach works for each place. Things that work in one country might be completely wrong in another.
“To get close to those who lack the know-how and think they might be able to knock together similar products themselves on the street requires real training initiatives. Like getting a client to stop obsessing about price and instead realise that we sell a total solution that provides value. Or to realise that we’re the supplier that always takes responsibility for solving problems.”
It’s this total approach and flexibility in the company’s products that constitute the main success factors, according to Stefan. Base products that are nice and easy to build and add complementing parts to. And that arrive in time.
“Wherever in the world you may be, you can always rest assured that you’ll get a quick delivery of well-packaged products. It’ll look the same in the USA, Sweden or India. It’s a tremendous strength,” Stefan concludes.
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