Opinion Jacob Harpaz about the key to success and thinking outside the box

Editor: Barbara Schulz

Israel - To ensure survival in today’s marketplace, it is important for companies to gain and maintain a competitive advantage in its target markets. Jacob Harpaz, president of the IMC Group and CEO of Iscar, Israel, explains how the company, which unites a range of renowned cutting tool companies like Iscar, Tungaloy Ingersoll and Taegutec, remains competitive.

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Iscar's headquarters in Tefen, Israel.
Iscar's headquarters in Tefen, Israel.
(Source: Schulz)

"I believe it is important to think outside the box, to look further and to try not to think of the obvious things, but to try thinking of the things beyond them. We are always developing new products that have not been on the market before – like new carbide grades or a new chipbreaker – while at the same time looking for the industry’s bottlenecks. We invest a lot of money to develop products outside the box. We have developed products that were not even suitable for existing machine tools; but we work closely with machine tool builders who then adjusted the machine and software accordingly.

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We are constantly folding our money back into the company and invest about 5 to 6% of our total revenue in R&D; you will not find many companies doing this. When we acquired some of the companies currently in the IMC Group, some were copying tools or re-engineering existing product lines. I stopped that, because I want to come up with something new all the time. We are very much R&D-oriented and also have an aggressive marketing strategy; that combination, together with a unique company culture, is our key to success.

We want to be good at what we do, we want our customers to be loyal to us and rely on our product line, to understand that they can count on us, that we will continuously upgrade our product line to the latest technology to enable them to achieve cost reductions and be more productive than their competitors. It is a partnership. We are our customers' partner; it is an ongoing relationship. I would say that 50% of our sales are based on those relationships – the rest is product performance, price and delivery. Our customers know that they can rely on us, call us 24/7 and that we’ll help them with their problems."