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Who doesn’t have sleepless nights?

Published on 14. January 2020

By City of Sound

The fact that you are reading this story right now is a testament to how newsworthy it is when a company decides to move production from Asia to Struer. STEENSSEN is one of those companies, and today founder Frederick Rickmann is having a meeting with his future suppliers.

Walking into the building wearing his beige trenchcoat bringing his notebook, Frederick Rickmann is a man on a mission, and today the mission is to help his suppliers in Struer understand what he wants from them, when he moves the production of his speaker brand STEENSSEN from Asia to Struer.

If all goes well, the local Struer company CIM PrintTronic will be developing and manufacturing the circuit boards that goes inside a STEENSSEN speaker.

But there is still a lot of uncertainty.

Days before the meeting Frederick Rickmann sent an application for at grant from Innobooster. Whether it is possible for STEENSSEN to move to Struer or not is greatly dependent on the grant according to Frederick Rickmann.

We need a helping hand, and what Innobooster does is to make it quicker and more possible for us to use companies in this sound cluster

Frederick Rickmann

Founder and CEO of STEENSSEN

He did, however, have a Plan B.

“When you make a plan, you also keep in the back of your mind what will happen if it doesn’t work out,” he says.

The Plan B is to sell some of his stock of speakers at a discounted price during a marketing event in Struer. This would – hopefully – generate the cash needed to continue the move to Struer.

The event will take place no matter what, but only time can tell how important it will be to the future of STEENSSEN.

The sound cluster

If the move to Struer is going to make sense, Frederick Rickmann and STEENSSEN have to be able to actually use the companies and the knowhow in the area. This could also prove to be a challenging manoeuvre for the company, but Frederick Rickmann is confident that it is worthwhile.

If we compare Danish companies to biology, they have been forced to evolve. Instead of just being order producing companies, they are forced to be developers, and that evolution in Struer, is the factor we are using positively now

Frederick Rickmann

Founder and CEO of STEENSSEN

One of the main reasons for moving production from Asia to Struer is that the manufacturers in Asia are demanding increasingly larger batch sizes to run a production. For smaller companies like STEENSSEN this is a wasteful way to make products.

“It might be cheaper ordering 1000 units in China, but we would have to throw away 900. Then it is better to order 100 here,” Frederick Rickmann says.

The three R’s

This decision to have a less wasteful production falls in line with what Frederick Rickmann calls “The three R’s”.

It stands for ‘Reusable, recyclable, repairable,’ and it is part of a strategy to become a more eco-friendly company, but it also means that a lot of the parts in the speakers, e.g the circuit boards, have to be the same in order to make it easier to repair and replace.

This is one of the things Frederick Rickmann will discuss on the meeting with PrintTronic today.

“I expect them to say this is going to be difficult,” Frederick Rickmann says with a laugh, without seeming to be too worried.

This falls in line with how Frederick Rickmann describes the difference between Danish and Asian engineers, at least according to what he has experienced so far:

“In Asia the engineers are good at doing things they know how to do, whereas in Denmark the engineers are comfortable with doing things that are not routine. Danish engineers are better equipped mentally to create uniqueness,” he says, guessing that it is a result of the education of the engineers in the respective countries.

In the video Frederick Rickmann visits CIM PrintTronic who will be producing the hardware for the STEENSSEN speakers

A meeting with CIM PrintTronic

It is raining slightly, and the path to the entrance to PrintTronic is muddy. This results in a messy floor when Frederick enters the building.

Despite the unfortunate beginning, the atmosphere between Frederick Rickmann and the people from PrintTronic is relaxed.

Coffee is served, and in no time Frederick Rickmann sits at the corner of the table, explaining his ideas by waving his hands enthusiastically and shifting his gaze from person to person in the meeting.

“So does the amplifier have to be 4 ohm or 8 ohm?” a hardware engineer from PrintTronic asks.

This and other questions cross the table in order for STEENSSEN and PrintTronic to get a little bit closer on what their future collaboration will look like.

After the meeting, Frederick Rickmann walks to the production floor to take a closer look at where the hardware will be produced. He walks around smiling and chatting with the production workers.

The worries

But it is not just a walk in the park. Even though the STEENSSEN venture might not be a question of financial ruin or not for Frederick Rickmann, there is still plenty of reasons to worry.

“Who doesn’t have sleepless nights?” he says with a laugh and continues:

I worry whether or not applying for the grant is going to be worth the administrative cost, and if the move to Struer is going to pay off, or if it will just mean more stumbling blocks.

Frederick Rickmann

Founder and CEO of STEENSSEN

The STEENSSEN business model however is built in a sustainable way, as Frederick Rickmann describes it.

“There is a risk, but we based the business model on flow. None of the products need vast amounts of cash to produce, we make small batches that we sell to ensure a continuous cash flow,” he says.

Only time will show exactly what the future holds for STEENSSEN and how the move to Struer will work out.

“So far, so good” seems to be a fitting cliché to end this article, although Frederick Rickmann has his own underplayed way of describing the state of things:

“Generally I sleep soundly.”

Update: After the interview, Frederick Rickmann received a rejection from Innobooster. So now he has launched plan B. He hopes many will show up for his event in Struer at Sound Hub Denmark on January 23 and 24, where attendees will have the opportunity to listen to a presentation about STEENSSEN and buy STEENSSEN speakers at greatly reduced prices.

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