Far off, but Never Far Away – Röchling and Its Partner Dotmar in Australia

Halfway around the world – this is how far away Haren, Germany, a location of the Industrial division is from Sydney, Australia. There, down under, is where Röchling’s customer, Dotmar Engineering Plastics, is based – the geographical distance could hardly be any greater. But the business relationship, on the other hand, is extremely close.

Dotmar celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2017. In recent decades a close connection between the companies has developed. Dotmar has established itself as the number one engineering plastics machinist and distributor in Australia and New Zealand, with Röchling semi-finished products making up the majority of this success. The company employs around 110 people across eight locations.

“Röchling works closely with us to develop new solutions for our customers. We provide a much higher level of technical support than our competitors with a range of innovative developments, and this is the key to our joint success,” says Kevin Stainer, Executive General Manager of Dotmar EPP Pty Ltd. The company advises customers in many varied industries on all technical issues relating to the application of thermoplastics, resulting in customized products and related services – all from a single source. The company has established a deep level of expertise over a great many years and has cultivated strong partnerships with internationally leading thermoplastics manufacturers, explains Stainer. “First and foremost on this list is Röchling. And Röchling is synonymous with quality – not only in terms of products and systems, but employees as well.”

New Markets and Applications
The experience and partnership that have been built up jointly over the years form the basis for a full exchange of ideas, which ultimately culminates in innovative developments, states Stainer. The strategy adopted by both companies is to understand, to the letter, the needs of end users in the specific industries. What does a mining company require, what are the key requirements for chemical engineering and tank building, what challenges does the transport industry face? In Australia and New Zealand, Dotmar has managed to continuously penetrate new markets and establish new applications using thermoplastics to replace conventional materials like wood, steel, or aluminium.

“Röchling has supported us to a great extent in this respect with its expertise and innovative product developments,” reports Stainer. “We work hand in hand, which explains why we are always so close to the customer,” states Darryl Johanning, underlining the close collaboration. Röchling appointed him National Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand in 2012. Dotmar has spent a number of decades working closely with Röchling to develop the market for tank building. Dotmar is also the number one in lining technology, which is hugely important in Australia, a country rich in raw materials. Röchling brands such as Polystone® for tank building and Matrox® for lining technology have a very strong reputation throughout the continent.

Warehouse Is a Challenge
The first contacts between the two companies were back in the early 1970s and concerned the material Lignostone®. Now, and back then, Dotmar faced a particular challenge in terms of long-term planning in that the transportation alone of Röchling products from Germany to Australia by sea takes eight weeks. “Dotmar had to know precisely what they would need to have in stock three months down the line,” recalls Willy Bölscher, who was just a young exports employee back then. He went on to expand the Australian market in partnership with Dotmar, as Head of Thermoplastics and is now retired.

Warehousing remains one of the major challenges today. The distributor is required to invest massively in local product stocks. “This is the only way that we can be successful against local competitors and Asian manu­facturing sites,” says Stainer. Dotmar has developed a very good market image for itself over the past few decades. But one thing has stayed the same, and that is the close and trusting relationship between the people involved. From Röchling, Willy Bölscher was the man of the first hour, and from Dotmar the young Australian engineer Bruce Armstrong. He came to Haren for the first time in 1986 and took a huge amount of inspiration and new ideas back to Australia with him. “In Germany, he saw all the things that you could do with Polystone® in the industry and was impressed,” notes Bölscher.

Open and Transparent Partnership
In a twist of fate, Armstrong became one of the owners of Dotmar in 1994 and was then able to put his ideas into practice. The company developed at a fast pace. It is now part of the Australian MM Plastics Group. Bölscher believes that the key to ensuring shared success is the communication of ideas and applications, and above all good personal relationships – not just at management level. Darryl Johanning shares his opinion: “We have an open and transparent partnership, which has allowed us to create an incredibly successful business in this part of the world.”