Exclusive interview with the new president of the EFDA
July 15, 2022
Andreas Bertaggia, Vice President, Head of Global Supply Chain, Bossard Group, was announced as EFDA’s new President at the association’s May conference – replacing Volker Lederer who stepped down after 10 year. Content Director Will Lowry spoke with Andreas to find out why he decided to take over as EFDA’s chair and plans for the future.
You have been confirmed as the new president of the EFDA. What made you decide to accept the role?
“I decided to take on this role thanks to the people from the member companies who work within the EFDA. Even though we’re sometimes competitors, I still feel like we’re more or less the same kind of people – who understand the fastening business down to the smallest detail, who are down to earth, hard working and work hard.
We have some very remarkable people in our group who have extraordinary knowledge, experience and understanding. All of this creates a very positive atmosphere and contributes to a common understanding that at the end of the day, we all have the same challenges to face and the same problems to overcome and that there is no better way than to share and to discuss these issues under the roof of the EFDA.
Additionally, I believe that the role of the EFDA has gained significant importance within our industry in representing the interests of European fastener distributors on all issues facing our industry. The EFDA gives distributors a voice.
More than 2,500 major European fastener distributors ensure that the right fastener is in the right place at the right time, contributing to the worldwide success of products produced by European industry. I mean what would the world be doing if there were no ties?
It is an honor for me to be the representative of the binding distributors across Europe and to defend their interests and defend them against all odds.
What do you think of the association and its evolution in recent years?
“Over the past 15 years, the EFDA has grown tremendously in its professionalism and power, which has not only been recognized by our members, but by other parties involved. This has led to a very positive development of EFDA membership, with an increasing number of member associations and companies from all over Europe. I would also like to mention the work of our General Secretary Alexander Kolodzik who leads the association at a very high professional level.
The EFDA has become the central coordinator and voice of our industry representing our interests and defending them when necessary, when it comes to all major policy issues; legislative texts; and technical directives issued by the various bodies at EU level. In addition, the EFDA provides its member associations and direct member companies with the latest updates, information and news on trade defense policy or other supply chain issues.
A great example of how the EFDA works is how its members were able to handle the recent anti-dumping investigation. The EFDA and its team of highly qualified legal and technical experts have accompanied their members through this difficult period. Provide them with as much information and guidance as possible – so they can act in the best possible way. »
As President, what are the main topics you will be focusing on in the future? What are the projects of the EFDA as an association?
In order to successfully represent the common interests of European fastener distributors, it will be important to make EFDA’s voice even more present and stronger with all stakeholders than it already is.
There is no doubt that protectionist measures by the EU or other global political forces are wrong. Especially at a time when free trade is no longer an obvious goal for many political actors around the world. It will be a priority under my presidency to ensure that the EFDA continues to be the strong voice within the European fasteners industry, which stands for free trade.
In addition to the outward-looking activities of the EFDA, the association offers important services to its members. We will work even more successfully to ensure that the EFDA is seen as “THE” point of contact for its members for policy, legislation, technical information and networking.
In addition to several internal EFDA meetings, we plan to be present again with a stand at the Fastener Fair Global to be held in March 2023 in Stuttgart. The next European Fastener Distribution is also planned for 2025 in Brussels, Belgium. The EFDA will have its 25e anniversary at that time, and I think that as the ‘capital’ of the EU, Brussels is the right place for a European association to organize the jubilee festivities.
You mentioned earlier the anti-dumping duties that have been announced on certain iron/steel fasteners from China. What are EFDA’s thoughts on homework? How have your members been impacted?
“With rates of up to 86.5%, duties have hit our industry hard at a time when European fastener distributors were already struggling to overcome many difficult challenges. One of the effects of duties is that they contribute to already existing price inflation.
The EFDA has always opposed anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese bindings imposed by the European Commission. We are pleased that we were able to avoid the imposition of provisional anti-dumping duties in the summer of 2021 – saving our members time and money, but we remain convinced that the anti-dumping regulations violate the law at many ways. However, based on our experience as an interested party in the anti-dumping investigation, we are convinced that the European Commission does not intend to modify the measures or to suspend them.
We are monitoring the situation very closely, which is problematic in two respects because of the excessively high level of rights and the different levels of rights. As I said, these tariffs are very vulnerable and will also be challenged in court from different sides. For the time being, as an association, we will continue to support our members to answer questions on the practical application of the anti-dumping regulation and to resolve ambiguities.
We will also play a major role in informing the fasteners market about the risks and consequences of circumvention. Under the current anti-dumping regulations, an importer may not only be involved in circumvention by mistakenly sourcing Chinese fasteners via third countries, but also by mistakenly importing from a Chinese producer at a reduced rate of duty – if the reduced rate does not apply to this company. We will not stop making market players aware of these risks so that importers do not fall into traps.
With all the market challenges of the past two years, has he underlined the importance of distribution within the market? How do you see the role of fastener distributors evolving in the future?
“I think the last two years have definitely underscored the importance of distribution, because it’s precisely when there are problems in the supply chain that distributors, with their assortment and inventory, play a major role in providing a “buffer” between OEMs and fastener manufacturers.These stock-holding distributor companies were in a strong position over the past two years to meet customer responses and needs.
Going forward, I think distributors will play an even bigger role in the future in terms of product availability, sustainability, shorter delivery times and relocating supply chains. What I see is that these aspects discussed and promoted in society and by private consumers are also becoming relevant for our industry. All these issues will sooner or later affect our business and we will have to adapt to the new situation.
What do you see as the major trends in the fasteners industry? How can your members benefit from these trends?
“What I can see in the short term is that the globalization trend has reached a certain limit. In fact, there are now trends towards what is called de-globalization – each continent having its own supply chain network in its region. The pandemic and the geopolitical situation are forcing every company to rethink how they can source and secure their supply.
The current political situation also favors a separation between the western world and autocratic governments. We’ve all seen over the past two years how vulnerable our global high-pitched supply chain can be.
European fastener companies currently face anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese iron and steel fasteners; factories abroad are running at full capacity with very long lead times; the costs of logistics services have increased significantly while the services are no less reliable. All of these factors could lead to the assessment that it makes more sense to source from shorter distances, even at higher costs.
Another upcoming trend is Environmental Social Governance (ESG), which requires an ever-increasing need to qualify a company as a supplier. This is what our societies and our politicians want. In the long term, companies that do not comply with these requirements risk being excluded from the supplier evaluation processes of large multinationals.
In my 20 years in the fixing industry, there’s one thing you can be sure of is that it’s never boring. I thought I had seen it all before 2020, but here we are two years later – with container shortages, disrupted supply chain, rising commodity prices and other impacts of the pandemic, and the aftermath of the tragic war in Ukraine. It made me realize that in this industry, you can never be sure what’s going to happen and I’ve decided that I’m never going to say ‘I’ve seen it all’ again…”