Putting together the puzzle

Australia’s biggest distributor of industrial components is now partnered with the US’s largest. Manufacturers’ Monthly finds out how you can’t go wrong with Inenco Industrial Solutions.

There are not many businesses that can successfully grow from a family-owned operation into the leading company in its field. But that is exactly what Inenco Group have done.

Founded in 1954 by father and son, JJ Martin-Weber and RJ Martin- Weber, as Consolidated Bearing Company (CBC), the company has transformed over the past half a century into Australia’s largest distributor of components for industrial applications, as Naz Paine, General Manager Marketing at Inenco Industrial Solutions explains.

“CBC grew from being focussed on selling automotive, OEM, and mining bearings into the field of bearings and power transmission solutions. From the introduction of V-belts, chains, and sprockets, the Industrial Solutions brandmoved into providing industrial gearboxes, electric motors and drives. We have diversified our market over the last 50 years to encompass lots of maintenance and repair operations, requirements that are needed for the industrial sector.”

Along the way, CBC acquired Bearing Service Pty Ltd (BSC) in 1984, and in 2003 transformed into the Inenco Group of businesses, acquiring driveline and hydraulic services business Hardy Spicer. These moves reflected the changes that the Australian industrial sector was experiencing, and Inenco adapted to remain the partner of choice.

“Once upon a time, an Australian business would have a supplier for bearings, a supplier for power transmission, and a supplier for consumables and more,” said Paine. “As Australian businesses have morphed over time, they seek to consolidate supply lines, make life easier, and work with suppliers that can be that one stop shop for industrial solutions.”

Over the past 20 years, Inenco has also collaborated with Australian industry as it becomes more globalised and connected with its neighbours.

“From 2000 to 2012 the company really accelerated in the world of acquisitions and diversification,” said Paine. “We had over 20 acquisitions, including the likes of Seaco Wilson in New Zealand, and we launched CBC PT in Indonesia and acquired Fenner Power Transmission Far East (Singapore) in 2014.”

The next milestone for the company came in July 2019, as US-based Genuine Parts Company acquired the Inenco Group. While these changes have led to a number of changes, at the customer level, the brands that they have come to know over the past 65 years remain, and are now connected by an ever-stronger support network.

“There are multiple businesses, but one powerful team,” said Paine.

In addition, the capabilities that Inenco offers to its customers have shifted, to closely align with the particular requirements of Australian industry as these become more specialised.

“As the business evolves, it goes from distributing products, to being a business that then value-adds around that product. We now have over 60 engineers and three workshops who provide consultative, design, and remanufacture services.

“We are starting to diversify the business beyond just selling parts into bespoke services and manufacturing as required,” said Paine.

This change is a result of conditions on the ground in Australian industry, and how Inenco, with its decades of expertise, can best equip customers to tackle their next challenge.

“Lots of older plant and equipment that are in the Australian market may have been designed as a one-off or small run application. We will have to go back and redesign components to make sure that they are functioning for the customer to the performance that they had or at an even a greater capacity,” said Paine. “We often improve the customer’s capacity and uptime to ensure that we’re taking the customer to that next level of productivity.”

More than just providing parts, Inenco are focussed on partnering for a solution.

Keeping Australia rolling
While Inenco may not be a household name, it is more than likely that a product they have supplied is part of each Australian’s life. This fact is at the centre of Inenco’s Let’s Roll campaign. As Paine highlights, technologies such as bearings are fundamental to modern society.

“What we do as Inenco touches life for Australians almost every day. For example, food and beverage manufacturing, and rolling stock; if something turns or spins, it has a product that Inenco handles.”

In some cases, the products Inenco supply quite literally keep Australia moving.

“If you ride a tram in Melbourne, chances are Inenco has assisted with the product that keeps the system moving. Every day when something moves, there’s usually a product that may have been through our distribution network or reseller in Australia.”

Showcasing the range of products Inenco supplies, as well as the variety of applications and solutions will be the focus of a series of Let’s Roll magazines, starting with “Mines and Quarries” and continuing across “Paddock to Plate”, “Building Materials”, “Water and Wastewater”, and “Recycling Plants”. The magazines are produced in conjunction with their premium partners, Timken, Gates, Schaeffler, CRC, Henkel, NSK, NTN, Fenner, Gulf Western oils, Diamond, Carlisle, ITW Polymers & Fluids, Marlin, Alemlube, Flir Systems, and Bordo.

“The Let’s Roll campaign showcases what we are, what we are capable of, and our business as a whole. It’s to widen the customer’s appreciation of what is available through partnering with our Inenco brands, with our workshops, our engineering services capabilities, and the scale of the business that we have behind us as well,” said Paine.

While the core technologies which go into bearings, seals, and power transmission have remained stable, their applications continue to change. Keeping abreast of where these products are required next is a core focus for Inenco.

Following how technology trends are playing out in the US, an as early adopter and an innovator when it comes to industrial applications, renewable energy technologies such as wind, and other industrial innovations allows Inenco to be ahead of the requirements of local, Australian industry.

Inenco is already working closely with its sister company in the US, Motion Industries, to bring the latest products and brands into Australia where there is a need that can be addressed.

“Being backed by a global partner gives us some scale with regard to the ability to add extra business units or extra service units, so we can continue to diversify our business. We can increase our scale much quicker to bring new services and solutions to Australia for our customers,” said Paine.

Another emerging front is the incorporation of digital technology into services such as bearings and power transmission. Using these technologies and associated software allows Inenco to focus on providing total plant reliability, instead of individual components.

“Where we see the market growing is around being able to provide uptime as a service, rather than just a product,” said Paine.

It’s more than likely that an Inenco product is a part of every Australian’s daily life.

Local presence, global strength
While mergers and acquisitions and the latest trends over the horizon are one thing, it is the application of these to the daily needs of industry that Inenco has focussed itself on.
In Australia alone, Inenco’s 1075 people are spread across 128 locations in every state and the Northern Territory. These include 650 Inenco Industrial Solutions (IIS) staff, and
78 IIS branches. This breadth goes towards what Paine describes as the core local value for Inenco.

“People are paramount within the business. Without people we can’t continue to operate, so we make sure our people are motivated, and can be relied upon to get our customers out of trouble.”

In many cases, the people that service Inenco’s customers have once been users of our products themselves, or have grown through the business and can now quickly understand the needs of a customer, and match this with Inenco’s capabilities.

“Our own staff believe in what the customer is doing and want to elevate the customer relationship beyond just selling the product,” said Paine. “They believe that we are true partners with the customer.”

Being spread out around Australia, not only in the capital cities, means that Inenco personnel are committed to the local industries they work with.

“Many of our employees have an industry background, so when the customer calls, our staff understand what they’re talking about and understand the applications.

“We can be relied upon to put you in contact with someone that understands your plant or has been in a situation that you have had before as a customer.”

Being local also means that Inenco can provide services and support that cannot be found otherwise.

“Customers can go and talk to our local people. We will ask questions, and strive to find a better solution than what you’ve have in place, rather than just being a like- for-like replacement.”

Ensuring that a product that Inenco provides is the right fit does not just stop at the branch, the local staff are committed to finding a solution.

“Another core value for us is our ‘Yes, can-do’ attitude,” said Paine. “It’s not unusual for us to have a local person that will travel 200-300 kilometres to meet a person driving from the other direction to get a part for you on same day if you’re plant is down.”

Each local person is then supported by Inenco’s now global network, the nature of which means that sometimes the true scale of the company is forgotten, as Paine recently found when a customer visited.

“We had some customers tour our Chullora, Sydney head office and distribution centre and it was a real eye opener. ‘We had no idea that this is what you really did or the size of your operations,’ they said.

“Customers see just that small part of the forward-facing business, BSC or CBC or WebsterBSC, and not all what is at hand from our wider group in Australia and beyond.”

Ultimately, growth for Inenco Industrial Solutions as it expands its distribution of over 600,000 products, and 100’s of brands across over 70 product categories from bearings,
to power transmission, to industrial products, is about supporting Australian industry.

“We’re focussed on growing the customers’ business,” said Paine. “Because if we can’t grow the customer’s business, we can’t grow our own.”

To find out more about Inenco’s capabilities, go to: www.lets-roll.com.au.