SEALED BUSHINGS FIND NEW MARKETS
Roxtec is Mellby Gård’s largest subsidiary in terms of sales. The company manufactures cable and pipe transits used in demanding environments. Following several years of challenges in the offshore market segment, MD Mikael Helmerson explains that new customers in other industries are offsetting the decline in oil and gas.
Roxtec was founded in connection with the invention of Multidiameter™. This is a solution for sealed transits of cables and pipes of different dimensions based on sealing modules with removable layers. The modules come in two parts that are placed around cables and pipes in frames mounted in openings in floors, walls, ceilings, decks or bulkheads. When the installation is closed using a compression unit, a transit is created that meets the requirements of heavy industry, against fire and water or gas leakage, for example.
Since the transit is safe for virtually all conceivable areas of application, it is a premium product. As a product company, the business model is to manufacture and sell to all, from owners to installers. This often involves addressing engineers and engineering consultants so that they draw in Roxtec’s products right from the planning of a project.
“There are other cheaper ways to seal a transit, with sealing putty for example. But such solutions usually protect against only one risk factor, such as fire or water. Accordingly, our sales work largely involves explaining to customers the benefits of what we call ‘multiple demands’. We could therefore say we create our market ourselves,” says Mikael Helmerson.
Roxtec’s products are designed to cope in very harsh environments over long periods of time. For this reason, the products have been an obvious choice for the oil and gas industry in both recovery (upstream) and refineries (downstream). However, as oil prices have fallen the desire to invest, particularly upstream, has decreased, impacting Roxtec’s sales.
“We realized four years ago that the oil boom could not last forever. That’s why we established business areas based on market segments, to systematically address new customers. Today, we see that this has yielded results and it has been the strategic decision with which I have been most pleased during my time in the company to date,” says Mikael Helmerson.
The three business areas are Marine & Offshore, Power & Process Industries, and Industry & Infrastructure. Examples of applications now gaining ground are cruise ships, wind turbines, trains, tunnelling projects and data centres.
“Offshore oil and gas was previously our largest customer segment. Today it is our smallest. In 2017/2018, our total sales decreased by a few percent due to the continued decline in offshore, although we have now offset this to such an extent that I believe we are now ready to grow again,” says Mikael Helmerson.
“During this difficult period, profits have also decreased slightly, although we have also made major investments in our sales force,” he continues. “We have defended our margin favourably.”
Mikael Helmerson sees Mellby Gård as part of the explanation for the company having emerged strengthened from the realignment.
“The combination of long-term perspective and industrial knowhow has been invaluable. This is manifested in the Board of Directors where we have Hans Stråberg as Chairman and Rune Andersson, Anders Bülow and Johan Andersson, among others, as members. Without the support this has provided in terms of both finances and skills, our realignment would have been a much tougher journey,” says Mikael Helmerson.