We spoke to Karl Brundell, Managing Director of Carter Manufacturing Ltd., in an exclusive interview about the company’s journey, adapting to Brexit and making deals at the BearingNet User Meeting.
How did Carter start?
Carter started in the UK in 1999 to represent Carter Manufacturing Inc. cam follower products in Europe as their Master Distributor. Greg Carter had successfully been running the family business having taken over from his father the founder. Greg was exceptionally supportive and gave us everything we needed to get the company started and distributing Carter products around Europe.
What’s your proudest achievement for Carter over the last 22 years?
Carter has focused on high-end specialist bearing products, backing this up with industry-leading technical support. We have worked on many key applications in extreme environments, but getting bearings approved by the European Satellite Agency (ESA) for space applications has been a key achievement I have been most proud of. Looking back over the years, the many friends we have made across the world through bearings has probably given me the most satisfaction.
How has the industry changed over the last couple of decades and what impact has it had on the way you do business?
When we first started, the fax machine was king. Reams of paper; fifty-plus pages long, would roll out with lists of surplus bearings. BearingNet put all of this up on the internet, facilitating specific requirements being searched for and purchased across the world. The community this created, allowed us to trade with customers internationally, with a level of trust that would not have been possible before. The start of the User Meetings in Prague allowed us to meet many of these customers in one place and build on these relationships.
What was the strategy behind opening a new location in Spain and how is that working for you?
We realised that Brexit could pose a problem to the European business we had built up, so we put the structure of a company in place in Spain, in the event that the deal would affect the UK’s ability to export to Europe. We also made a commitment to all of our European customers, that they would not incur additional costs or paperwork as a consequence of the deal. When the final deal was announced, we knew that it was time to activate the European Logistics location in Spain. With the second wave of COVID hitting the world and travel restrictions, it was challenging but fun to get things into place to start moving our products directly into Europe for European customers and stocking and shipping out of this new location.
What has been the main reason behind your success over the years?
Our business has been built on supplying our customers with high-quality products and excellent service, we hope this shows through in everything we do.
You’ve been a member of BearingNet for 20 years now! How does BearingNet help Carter?
BearingNet has allowed us to show our stock to companies across the world and carry out business in a safe commercial environment. Being part of the community has allowed us to expand our reach to customers we may never have known.
How did you find it being back at the BearingNet User Meeting after so long without one?
After so long away, it was great to be back talking to friends and colleagues. Video meetings serve a purpose, but nothing can beat actually meeting people face-to-face, especially when you can have a drink with them in the bar later.
Talk us through the deal with Godiva? How did it come about and how will it benefit both companies?
In the years leading up to Brexit, we looked at diversifying the customer base of the company. Erick Sloan had been working for us in the UK and decided to return to America to be closer to his family. This provided an opportunity for what became Carter Americas, promoting the specialist products we had developed for European customers to a new customer base in the US. The deal with Godiva has given Carter Americas exclusive distribution rights to the NMB E type spherical plain bearing range.
This is the default bearing for Formula 1 and will offer NASCAR and IndyCar, state-of-the art products for the first time in the US market. The main benefits of the NMB E-type bearings are a minimised and consistent torque in all directions, with an increased load rating of 35% and a maximum temperature rating of 50%. There is also significant stock available and scheduled factory deliveries, to overcome any supply chain issues.
Things have turned full circle and we are enormously proud to be promoting Greg Carter’s name, as without him, none of this would have been possible.
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