Andries Smilda, Sales & Marketing Director, looks back on a year of challenges and triumphs.
As I look back at 2021, a year when this great company of ours celebrated its 100th anniversary, I feel a great sense of pride in what has been achieved and is being achieved. It is hard to believe how a tiny company that started out in 1921, employing just a handful of local people, went on to become one of the largest, most successful industrial conveyor belt manufacturers in the world. Throughout those one hundred years, the company has had to overcome many challenging times. I think that it is fair to say that 2021 was in many ways one it is most challenging.
COVID 19 understandably continued to take center stage, not just from a health point of view but also from the severe problems it has directly and indirectly caused. We have seen a dramatic surge in the global demand for raw materials, transport, and energy. This has resulted not only in wide-ranging logistical problems but also extremely high levels of inflation. Our first priority must of course be to safeguard the financial security of our company and therefore the security of our employees. We must also never forget that our customers and service partners depend on us to provide a secure and stable supply chain. We are having to take tough decisions but the fantastic support we have received from both our colleagues, our customers, and our supply partners have been very gratifying to see. Thanks everyone!
Aside from these problems, global warming and the serious threat posed to the immediate and the long-term future of our planet has rightly been very big news throughout the year. The enormous media interest surrounding the United Nations COP 26 meeting held in the UK in November confirmed that most world leaders are starting to take the threats posed by climate change much more seriously. I get a great sense of satisfaction when I think about how in Dunlop we have been taking this subject seriously for a very long time and how we continue to lead our industry by example. 2022 will see an even greater emphasis on our part with a particular focus on three key areas; product life cycle, the environmental impact of our products, and our production processes.
From a sales perspective, 2021 was a remarkably good year under the circumstances. One of the highlights for me was seeing our service partner network flourish and record growth in sales of more than 44%. Another highlight of the past year was that our service division, Dunlop Service International, successfully completed the acquisition of Technobalt Eesti in Estonia. With branch offices in Latvia and Lithuania. Technobalt supply and fit high-grade belting and are well-recognized and highly respected in the Baltic region. We did not have a service partner in the Baltic States so this welcome addition to the Dunlop family represented a very positive step forward for us.
Last but certainly not least, another momentous event was the recent announcement that our Finance, IT, and logistics director, Kerstin de Haan, was to become our Chief Operating Officer. To say that the conveyor belt industry is male-dominated is an understatement. For me, Kerstin’s appointment speaks volumes about the way our company continues to evolve, progress, and lead the way in so many important ways. It is very easy to talk about market-leading product quality, the environment, and equal opportunities but it is quite another thing to actually demonstrate positive application in real life. That really does make me feel very proud indeed. My sincere thanks to everyone who has played a part in what has been a historic year. Here’s to another great year in 2022.