Hettich Holding GmbH & Co. has its head office in Kirchlengern, Germany where it is one of the largest employers. In fact, this family-owned company is one of the largest manufacturers of furniture fittings in the world, with offices around the globe. The Hettich Group is presently managed by Dr. Andreas Hettich – the fourth generation of the family to run the business.
Hettich makes products that are German-engineered and produced to the highest quality standards. The company got its start in 1888 and entered the Canadian market in 1978.
“In Canada, we started with just one small office in Toronto with one rep in Ontario and one rep in Montreal,” says René Dionne, president of Hettich Canada. “Hettich is now one of the key brands in Canada in the market. We have grown to the point of having many warehouses across Canada, and we went from having two employees to now having fifty employees.”
The company expanded to the United States in the late 1980s with North Carolina as a distribution center for the brand. “Throughout the years, Hettich acquired several separate manufacturing operations to support the local products,” says Tommy Burgess, president of Hettich America. “In 2010, we consolidated into a single sales and manufacturing facility here in Buford, Georgia, where we remain today, and we continue to serve the kitchen and bath cabinet market as well as the office and home furniture and appliance industry through both direct sales and distribution channels.”
Hettich has had its share of challenges over the years, but it has always worked towards solutions and improvement. In Canada, it has worked to improve its internal efficiency, especially since 2016 with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software from German business software company SAP.
“We are doing more business with strong partners that are getting the product directly from Germany,” says Dionne. “The SAP implementation was extremely important for us, a little bit painful because when you do an ERP, sometimes things do not go the way you would like them to go. But since then, our fill rate is extremely high at above 98 percent. So, that was a key challenge that we overcame by improving internally.” The fill rate measures a company’s ability to fill customer demands from available stock with no backorders.
The company has been using more and more such technology to operate more smoothly and efficiently. “We just introduced our online e-shop for our ordering system, so that our customers have easy access to product information, CAD drawings, and everything they need to run their business,” says Dionne. “This technology is a big benchmark for us.”
In the United States, an ongoing difficulty has been an increased number of competitors. “It is a focus of ours to increase our distribution network, ensuring our ability to saturate the market with our quality products,” says Burgess. “This focus is most important as we develop new technology for our markets, ensuring we reach the end consumer expeditiously.”
Hettich is especially happy with how, over the last several years, it has been able to go further than expected. “We have been able to outpace the market growth by double digits with revenue while increasing our service level to our customers,” says Burgess. “We have proved our ability to be a fast-growing and reliable partner.”
These relationships and the strong partnerships they develop are some of the company’s main competitive advantages. “One key component of Hettich is, when we develop product, we’re not only looking at trends of the product – that’s a side of it, of course, quality is always top of the line – but we’re looking at how we could, by providing product, improve our customer efficiencies,” says Dionne.
It has partnered with industry leaders in both Canada and the United States. “We’ve signed many strong industry partnerships and in the last three years. We’ve done extremely well with our distribution network,” says Dionne. “We’re now stronger, faster, with improved service level,” says Dionne. “Following SAP implementations, our new ERP is now, we believe, the best in the industry.”
As Hettich America grows, it is always evaluating local production needs to determine where to increase its presence to be closer to its customers. “We continue to envision our current growth rate and expectation to be a market leader through product innovations and operational improvements,” says Burgess.
Another aspect that sets it apart from its U.S. competition is its immense global network which allows it to take advantage of ideas and innovations from other countries. “This enables us to leverage and respond quickly to the dynamics of the market,” says Burgess.
Hettich is proud of the innovation and the German engineering quality found in its products. “Our focus is to ensure we deliver the right products and values for our customers’ needs. So, we have developed a comprehensive product which is a mix of a modular and a platform concept which allows us to adapt our products to all of our customers’ needs very quickly,” says Burgess.
“Quality is in all aspects of our products, starting in the development phase, and we ensure it through production processes, but it doesn’t just stop there. It continues in all of our operations, all the way to the delivery to our customer through transportation,” says Burgess.
The company has received multiple awards for its innovative products, including the ‘Best of the Best’ award for ViZard, which is an integrated flap fitting and the ‘High Product Quality’ award for the Comfort Spin turntable.
Hettich Canada is excited about its newest drawer system ‘AvanTech You’ which was officially introduced at interzum in Cologne, Germany. For those who visited the Hettich booth, the launch was positively received and has created an enormous buzz with all those visiting the show. “It takes customization to the next level without compromising production,” says Dionne. “The design is slim, purist and on top of that you will be able to customize the side of the metal drawer box to better complement your cabinet design. In addition, our customers will be able to use the same slide and switch from a metal drawer box over to dovetail. You use the same runners throughout production, and simply install either your dovetail drawer or our metal box into the cabinet down the production line. It’s simplified versatility really and for us, it’s definitely going to be an exciting milestone in our plan for next year,” he says.
“As we continue to strengthen our value proposition through technology improvements and logistics best practices, we are focused on improving our customers’ competitiveness in the marketplace and in so doing, their bottom line. This is our focus, day in and day out,” says Dionne.
As Hettich grows, it will continue expanding distribution networks and focusing on technology while offering top-of-the-line service. Its goal is to be number one for furniture hardware. “We want to live by our core values of quality, innovation, reliability, and closeness to customers,” says Burgess.
“If we ask our customers ‘Who’s your best supplier?’ we want them to naturally say Hettich and not just for the product, which is already best in the industry,” says Dionne.