Global Fastener News

2007 FIN – EIFI’s Micheau: Seek Common Ground

September 18
00:00 2013

March 20, 2007 FIN – The new president of the European Industrial Fasteners Institute, Jean-Paul Micheau, said the multi-nation manufacturers’ organization is looking to increase its visibility as it expresses the needs of the fastener industry.

“We want to form stronger links with other manufacturers’ associations,” Micheau told Fastener & Fixing Europe editor Phil Matten. “We also have to look eastwards. There are many developments in the old Eastern Europe and in Russia and we want to improve our knowledge of these markets.”
Micheau, president of Böllhoff Otalu in France, succeeded Robert Lench as EIFI president last year after Lench had headed the organization for 20 years. Micheau will serve a two-year term.
Micheau joined Böllhoff in 1986. In addition to heading the French rivet nut manufacturing, Micheau is president of Böllhoff’s Spanish and Italian subsidiaries and the manufacturing in China.
In the F&FE interview, Micheau also called for unique quality rules that reflect the nature of fastener production.
“Fastener manufacturing is a volume production process in its own right. It is not the same as making cars.” Micheau claimed that inevitable friction between manufacturers and distributors should spur both parties to find common ground.
“It is not about trying to push things together,” Micheau explained. “There are many things we want to do alone and that are only relevant to either manufacturing or distribution, but there are some areas of common ground where to co-operate is to achieve something good for the fastener business as a whole.”
Micheau says there are deep concerns about the pace of change in the global fastener market, including some of the imbalances that change has generated. He mentioned the disparity in the cost of materials that makes it harder for European fastener producers to compete with their Asian counterparts. “Is this fair competition? I am in China regularly and it is certain that you pay far less for wire there than in Europe.”
Micheau noted that differences between some countries are too vast.
“We are in a world where we have to supply more and more for less and less money. You create a new product, after a couple of years it is a commodity.”
Micheau said he remains optimistic about the future of the global fastener industry.
“There are many, many possibilities to develop new and ingenious fasteners and that is the only way, in the end, we will survive. In the meantime we have to spend energy and time to develop those new products, so we also have to defend what we have now in order to ensure that future can come.”

Micheau: Open Markets Wanted
European fastener manufacturers need an open market to compete, Micheau said of the EIFI’s antidumping complaint on carbon steel fasteners from Asia.
“EIFI has nothing against competition,” Micheau declared. “Many member companies are involved in many different countries, they expect to compete and they need to operate in an open market. But it is also necessary to defend your interests and when subsidies and other trade imbalances clearly exist, one of the legitimate tools is the antidumping complaint.”
Micheau predicted that eventually the market will improve. “The cost situation in China will inevitably change,” he explained. “It is changing very rapidly now. You only have to look at how salaries increase over the last two years.”
The question is how long change will take. “In the meantime what should our members do?” Michaeu asked. “Raymond Barre used to say, ‘I am a liberal, but not a silly one.’ It is not realistic to expect the market to solve everything.”
The decision to launch an antidumping complaint epitomized EIFI’s diversity, Micheau commented. Founded in 1978, EIFI has about 200 members from 14 countries. He described the organization as an “association of associations.”
“You can imagine what that means in reconciling the different sensibilities of our member associations,” Micheau told F&FE. “Look at their member companies: multinational groups, owner managed businesses, family owned businesses, larger and smaller, some very progressive, some traditional. That means big differences in perspective as well as willingness to be open and to share with others.” The complaint requires proof that dumping takes place, that there is injury to European fastener manufacturers and that the measure would be in the interest of the EU as a whole.
“Our research company prepared an excellent case, and we are sure this has been accepted. To prove dumping is a technical matter. For injury there is more interpretation but we believe we have presented clear evidence to the Commission.” ©2007/2013 Fastener Industry News.
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