Q&A A decision that underlines the relevance of the Portuguese market

Editor: Rosemarie Stahl

Leiria is centrally located in one of Portugal's tool and mould-making hubs. It is also the place that Knarr, the specialist for standard parts for tool and mould-making, has chosen for opening its first international location. Rainer Knarr explains why the company has decided on Portugal.

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A strong team for Portugal (left to right): Rainer Knarr, Kristina Knarr (Management), Liana Cerejo (Customer Support), Manuel Maltez (Sales Manager), José Santos (Sales Manager).
A strong team for Portugal (left to right): Rainer Knarr, Kristina Knarr (Management), Liana Cerejo (Customer Support), Manuel Maltez (Sales Manager), José Santos (Sales Manager).
(Source: Knarr)

About 450 tool and mould-makers are based in Portugal. Most of them are crowded into the two areas of Marinha Grande and Oliveira de Azeméis. Leiria, the place Knarr has chosen for its new warehouse, which was opened in January, is in close proximity to Marinha Grande. For the manufacturer of tool and mould components, this is the first international location outside of Germany. Rainer Knarr, CEO and founder of the company, explains the reasons, problems and chances he sees behind this step.

How would you characterise your company?

During the last two decades we were able to establish Knarr as a quality-oriented and reliable manufacturer, partner and supplier for traditional tool and mould-makers as well as for the plastics processing industry. In addition to our standard components, which are used for injection moulding and mainly responsible for the manufacturing of various plastics parts, we offer customised solutions. Our very high production depth allows us to react more efficiently to individual customer wishes. Special part manufacturing can even be seen as a core skill of our company and makes us different from other competitors.

Knarr's headquarters are located in the northern Bavarian city of Helmbrechts, but obviously you are an internationally oriented company and also supply markets beyond Germany's borders.

Indeed, we have become internationally oriented in the meantime. We work with our own sales representatives or in several trade partnerships in various European countries. However, the whole shipment is organised and managed from our headquarters. The new warehouse in Leiria is the first international location of our company and underlines the relevance of the Portuguese market.

What makes Portugal interesting for you as a business market?

Portugal attracted our attention a long time ago. We are connected to various Portuguese customers through long-standing partnerships. Furthermore, Portugal has established itself in the top-10 countries for mould-making – there is no doubt that this happened for justifiable reasons. Moulds of very high quality are built there. That suits us insofar that we attach importance to the high quality of our products as well.

And why exactly Leiria?

Portugal has different hot spots of our branch. Leiria is an important one of them. There are a lot of toolmakers in the catchment area, who we want to support with our on-site presence.

Finally, the time factor is also becoming more and more important to them. Short delivery times are of vital importance, just like high quality. We can now guarantee both. If somebody is really in a hurry, we are locally available. It is possible to prevent longer production losses, especially in cases of wear parts.

That means your parts can be picked up directly at the warehouse?

Yes, of course. The office at the warehouse is occupied every weekday. From 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm, our team is available for every customer to pick up the necessary parts. That is another advantage of short distances and the on-site presence.

The official opening of the warehouse in Leiria took place in January 2018.
The official opening of the warehouse in Leiria took place in January 2018.
(Source: Knarr)

Who is the team you are talking about?

We will start with a small team of three persons. Mr Manuel Maltez and Mr José Santos both have vast experience in the field of tool and mould-making. This is highly relevant because we also want to offer technical support to our products. Ms Liana Cerejo co-ordinates the administrative handling. Furthermore, our local sales representatives will be supported by a background office team working from Germany, of course.

What is the challenge that Knarr faces in Portugal?

We are a medium-sized, naturally grown company with thousands of customers all over the world. Nevertheless, we have to admit that maybe we are not yet well-known as a powerful partner for toolmakers in Portugal.

So the first aim should be clear: We want to win their confidence and convince them with our work methods. Our underlying philosophy can be summarised very simply: Quality. Performace. Service! These principles are uncompromisingly enforced by our employees and make us what we are: Your powerful partner for tool and mould-making.

What impact is Industry 4.0 having on Knarr?

Industry 4.0 is omnipresent. But we are not afraid of it.

In fact, we increased our efforts in the area of digitalisation a long time ago. One example is our highly modern webshop. It is available in ten different languages and it is more than a standard online shop for buying single parts. It is an intelligent system that even allows the user to configure complete mould bases including fitting pillars, bushes, flanges or insulating sheets. All 3D data can be downloaded and imported directly to the user's CAD application.

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