Trading at opposite ends of the world…

11, 659 miles apart

BearingNet is a small company which operates on a global scale. With over 1800 customers worldwide it is very interesting to see how successfully customers trade when they are at opposite ends of the earth.
Mana Bearing Supplies in New Zealand are over 11,659 miles away from BearingNet in the UK and also the most southerly member. We decided to speak to Rob McCall and see how they started and manage
to do business with other distributors

How was the company founded?
The company was started around 30 years ago by the then current SKF New Zealand Sales Manager, Mike Barry (in those days SKF Sweden ran their own branch operations in New Zealand, Australia & South Africa).

He ran it for 2 or 3 years and sold it to Precision Bearings (who have now disappeared from the New Zealand market) who ran it until 1990/91 when the previous owner Carl & Bev Aitken purchased a struggling business. Carl & I worked together in the bearing industry with a competitor 30 years ago, hence the connection. It was no doubt that their ability built the business into a successful operation which my wife Helen and I purchased 11 years ago.

Is Mana Bearing Supplies family run?
Yes, the business is family owned and operated by Helen & myself. We also employ Andy Keay who spends most of his time out and about calling on existing and potential customers. We did for a while have a joint operation (which we ran out of our premises) with the previous owners, where we actively sourced and purchased surplus and redundant bearing stock in New Zealand which we then sold to other bearing company’s both nationally and around the world. We have since then purchased the balance of that stock and shut the company down. Carl finally retired!
Do you deal mostly in your domestic market?
We mostly deal with the domestic market here in New Zealand. We service a population base of approximately 475,000 people. Unfortunately manufacturing is disappearing from New Zealand so the bearing consumption industrially is declining.
We are located in a city 20 odd kilometres north of the capital, Wellington, at the base of the north island. We service engineering, automotive, construction, agriculture & horticulture, local bodies & infrastructure, transport and manufacturing – basically if it has a bearing we will sort it.
Do you face any problems when you trade outside of New Zealand?
We are very aware of our geographical location. For this reason, when we get requests and inquiries from members around the world we always try to make the cost of the item as competitive as possible, as there are members closer to them who can offer quicker and cheaper transit times and costs.
Likewise, when we are looking for items for our customers we just have to tell the customer this is the delivery time and this is the cost due to our location in the world.
What do you use BearingNet for?
BearingNet for us is predominately for sourcing items that are not ‘on the shelf’ in New Zealand.
What was the most difficult part you ever had to source? Where did you get it?
The most difficult item? Well there have been a few over the years but a few that spring to mind were the wheel bearings (old RIV specials) for an early 1950’s Ferrari Monza racing car. Another was the Timken 93812 which is the inner wheel bearing in an early 1970’s WABCO motor scraper which we got! One from Lewis in Australia and the other from Brastates do Brasil Com. Imp. In Brazil.
We have sourced a number of old obsolete items for old cars, tractors, earth moving machinery and railway items over the years.

Which countries take the longest to receive goods from?
The 93812 from Brazil was dispatched promptly by Brastates but once it landed via/into the US we lost quite a few days with customs doing their job – that one took about 2.5 weeks to get to me.
Are you the only bearing distributor in your region?
No we’re not – there are two major players in the area and another couple of companies that dabble in the odd bearing – but we are the only specialist bearing company in the area – we don’t sell general engineering products.
What is the average delivery time for your items to arrive?
Depends which country it’s coming from – generally overnight for Australia, Singapore 2 days, USA, UK, Europe generally 3 to 5 days once payment is received by the seller.
Do you avoid buying from any countries due to difficulties with your location?
New Zealand is well serviced from Asia/Pacific, UK, Europe & USA, but freight costs from other areas can be prohibitive.