Kebrell Nuts & Bolts: "The right product, at the right time, in the right place"

40 years old next year, Kebrell has spent much of the past four decades building a reputation on a vast stock holding, supplying non-standard parts, custom fasteners and fixings and having a resourceful sourcing team. Commercial Manager Ray Goddard tells Torque the latest from the firm and provides his take on the growing demand for just in time deliveries and a one-stop-shop service…

How long has Kebrell offered a non-standard range?
I think it would be fair to say, since its inception! Kebrell has supplied non-standard parts to the automotive industry since the late 1960s, initially starting with commercial truck  manufacturers such as AEC and Scammell. Back in the 1970s, Kebrell was looking at a ratio of approximately 20:80 (non-standard: standard parts). We’re probably known more for our non-standard range of fasteners than our standard range these days!

What kind of industries typically use your non-standard service?
We mainly service the automotive industry; however, we are gradually seeing more interest from the military, agriculture and utilities sectors with a range of bespoke fasteners.

Can you reveal what kind of percentage of the business is made up by non-standard product for Kebrell? And is that growing?
As a group, and if we’re solely looking at product (not including finishes, patches, etc), then we’re currently looking at a ratio of 65:35 (non-standard: standard).

We’ve seen a steady increase in the demand for non-standard parts with end user customers and Tier 1 suppliers alike. With regards to growth potential; we have the means to supply a vast range of non-standard products and we are continuously developing relationships with specialist manufacturers globally, so there is potential for growth.

Kebrell also offers custom designed fasteners to meet customer’s precise needs – is that through your Spanish manufacturing plant? What are turnaround times like, on average?
Yes and no. DYTSA only manufacture bolts and screws, so it’s safe to say that any bespoke bolting comes from Spain, but when it comes to other specialist fasteners and fixings we use our other global manufacturing partners.

On average, lead times from Spain are approximately 10-12 weeks for bespoke parts. But that’s a very loose statement, obviously it depends on the tooling required, the complexity of the part, if any revisions are made to drawings etc. If we’re talking about non-standard/standard fasteners then we can see deliveries in as little as six weeks.

More generally, how’s business been in 2019 compared with 2018?
As a group, we’ve seen strong growth again this year, particularly in the utilities, automotive and electrical sectors. The commercial fasteners side of the business is developing nicely with standard product sales increasing, and the non-standard/custom side of the business is growing continuously. Like everyone else in the industry, we’re still feeling the pressure of rising costs from the Far East and Europe but considering increases, we’ve been investing heavily in new stocks to ensure that we can continue to offer an excellent level of service whilst maintaining competitive pricing structures.

You’ve previously mentioned that Kebrell is keen to source product if you don’t already stock it and a customer has requested it. Is it fair to say that Kebrell is aiming for that one-stop-shop service for your customers?
In a word? YES. Kebrell has always strived to service our customers’ needs and requirements in every aspect of supply. If a customer needs a product that we don’t stock or manufacture, then yes, we will source it for them, allowing them to purchase product from one single source.

We have an incredibly knowledgeable sourcing team based at our HQ in the West Midlands, with years of experience in dealing with specialist requirements and bespoke product. Customers have often said; “If KEBRELL can’t supply it, then it doesn’t exist”. It is widely known across the domestic automotive industry that Kebrell is the first port of call for NSF (No Source Found) teams.

We’re very proud of that fact, and we will continue to develop our relationships with manufacturing partners to ensure that we can continue to source any product that our customers need.

We hear a lot about customers increasingly demanding “just-in-time” delivery. Is that something that your customers request more and more?
Many of our customers in the automotive industry request some form of VMI system. JIT is a great system, particularly for customers who may be tight on warehousing space such as smaller distributors. For these customers, it obviously makes sense to treat inventory as “waste” and by operating a JIT system, they can keep costs and stock to a minimum, allowing them to invest in other areas of business.

Kebrell has always offered different supply techniques over the years, including Kanban, Direct Line Feed, Consignment Stock and JIT.

By utilising Kanban with JIT, we can offer our customers the right product, at the right time, in the right place, in the exact amount that they need.

Is there anything coming up at Kebrell in the next six months that we should be looking out for?
We’ll be launching some new commercial product lines towards the end of the year, including a trade pack range for merchants and wholesalers, along with the development of an e-shop and online catalogue.

And of course, 2020 sees Kebrell Nuts and Bolts Ltd turn 40, following group company HTB’s 50th year in 2017.