Valx to shake up global axle market

From the August 2016 issue.

Dutch company Valx is not new to the European trailer axle market anymore, but hasn’t quite managed to break into the industry’s top echelon just yet. With the help of global powerhouse Fuwa, that could now change.

It’s fair to say that the official launch of the Valx brand at the 2010 IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Germany was a game-changing moment for the European trailer axle industry. Then part of Holland’s MCB Group, the novice seemingly ignored the traditional market hierarchy and staged itself as a fresh alternative to the German establishment – boasting a distinct international edge and a firm commitment to innovation.

Helped by a stunning visual campaign rolled out both traditionally and online, the young brand’s British Racing Green-inspired colour scheme quickly gained traction in the market and would have probably caused the competition some serious embarrassment had the trailer market not slowed down so dramatically in 2011 and beyond – not just because of smart publicity, but also because of the convincing value proposition behind it.

Even with the Eurozone crisis silhouetted against the horizon, though, Valx’ integrated axle module – combining innovative componentry supplied by Fuwa, Wabco, TMD, Timken, SKF and VDL Weweler in a price competitive package – had a notable impact on the market and earned the company a fan base stretching from Portugal’s Atlantic coast all the way to the Russian capital of Moscow.

In 2014, with Europe slowly recovering and Valx studiously stealing market share from the powerful German competition, Fuwa stepped onto the scene to – via Australian Fuwa-subsidiary, Fuwa K-Hitch – acquire what had hitherto been but a somewhat nonconventional client business. Sensing the disruptive potential behind the brand, Fuwa K-Hitch hoped it would be able to bring the necessary firing power to the table to help Valx shake up the market once more and finally break into the top three of the European sales ranking.

To do so, a new management team led by Joop Arends as Managing Director and Martin van Willigen as Sales Director was appointed, and the Valx head office was moved to a new location in Veghel, The Netherlands. From here – with guidance from the new Australian parent and an ever-present, highly ambitious and equally resourceful Chinese mother ship – the company is now ready to take on the establishment once again. Global Trailer spoke to Joop Arends and Martin van Willigen about Valx’ second coming and their agenda as the new faces behind the brand.

Q: There has been a bit of a news lull on Valx between the Fuwa K-Hitch take over at the end of 2014 and the installation of a new management in early 2016. Please talk us through what happened in between.
A: You’re right, it’s been a bit quiet around the Valx camp of late, but behind the scenes a lot has happened – most importantly the move of our head office and the announcement of a new management team, which is a process you simply cannot rush. Think about it: Via Fuwa K-Hitch, we are now officially part of the global Fuwa family, so it’s been quite a substantial evolutionary leap for our small company. Fuwa is the biggest axle manufacturer in the world and has already opened a lot of doors for us in the market to ensure our product will be even more competitive in the future. Product development, for example, has been extremely accelerated by being so close to our main supplier, and the input we’ve received from our group companies in Australia, China and the US has been invaluable too. For our customers, the main message is that our new parent is a company with the same core business as us – axles.

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