Habasit helps Gúmmísteypa expand and solidify its position on the Icelandic market

Habasit’s new partner in Iceland, Gúmmísteypa, has been around for a long time, manufacturing rubber belts and producing other rubber products for the local market for decades. Adding Habasit’s modular and other plastic belts to their product range expanded the company’s expertise, and improved its ability to serve customers in a wide variety of industries, all over the country.

From small scale side project to national supplier and service provider

Gúmmísteypa Þ. Kristjánsson was founded in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1952. The name of the company was changed to Gúmmísteypa Þ. Lárusson­ in 1984, when Þorsteinn Lárusson took over the family business from his grandfather. Today, his daughter Berglind Steinunnardóttir is the managing director. The word gúmmísteypa roughly translates as “a place that makes things out of rubber”, which is what Berglind's great grandfather founded while working in a tyre workshop in Reykjavik in the early 1950's. At first, the products – small rubber items for local fishing companies – were all made in the private home, but the business soon required a proper workshop of its own.

Gúmmísteypa primarily makes rubber and plastic belts for customers all over Iceland. Rubber belts are used in heavy industries such as mining, metal refineries and the aluminum industry, whereas plastic belts are especially common in the food industry. The company also does a lot of rubber lining, and one such case that Berglind remembers particularly well involved a major food OEM customer. “They brought us a large steel funnel that needed to be lined with rubber on the inside. It was going to be used for steel cutoffs and scrap metal, which meant that we needed to make sure the rubber was durable, and could lower the noise from the metal being dropped into the funnel.”

A unique position, on a rather special market

Being located on an island quite far north means that a lot of products and materials need to be imported, which is often expensive. As such, it is highly beneficial for Gúmmísteypa's customers to have a local supplier and service provider in Iceland, serving the whole country.

Gúmmísteypa imports material for production and products for resale, mostly from Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Croatia. Among the imported items are rubber for the manufacturing of rubber products, and rolls of rubber for lining and for making scrapers and hoses, for example. The company also imports scrapers, rollers, so-called netopdragere, as well as large rolls of belting material.

Gúmmísteypa’s fitters will cut, prepare and splice the belts according to the customer’s needs, before selling them to and in some cases also installing them at the customer’s facility. As far as rubber belts are concerned, it is currently the only company in Iceland with the capacity and know-how necessary to be a complete belt supplier and service partner.

Typically, Gúmmísteypa will receive an order from one of its customers, prepare the order in the workshop, and then send it to the customer. The company has many customers across the country, and these are visited by Gúmmísteypa personnel on a regular basis. Most days include projects at customers’ facilities. As Iceland is a rather small and compact nation, even the areas the furthest away from Reykjavik can usually be reached by car in less than eight hours.

Serving customers in immediate need of assistance

It is rather common for the company to receive requests from customers who are in immediate need of help due to belts malfunctioning or being broken. The customer companies do not always have replacement belts in stock, and production stops – especially longer ones – come with significant economic losses. “We try to do everything we can in order to produce a new belt and send it to the customer right away. Usually, in these cases, two of our coworkers will bring the belt to the customer, install it in their factory or workshop, and make sure that everything is up and running, staying overnight if necessary,” says Berglind.

As far as fishing vessels are concerned, Gúmmísteypa has so far not had to change any plastic belts or modular belts due to any emergency, but the company has the ability to quickly conduct this kind of service, should they receive such a request.

The partnership with Habasit proved to be mutually beneficial right from the start

Modular belts are very popular among Icelandic companies, and Gúmmísteypa wanted to be a part of that market. As such, the company bought the Habasit stocks from Habasit's previous Icelandic partner in June of 2019, and was instantly able to offer a very wide range of different belts to Icelandic customers.

With these new belts, Gúmmísteypa has expanded its scope and ability to serve its customers, yet has also opened itself up to tougher competition in the process. Fortunately, the partnership with Habasit has also resulted in another new benefit – Ásgeir Harðarson, a belt specialist and full-time sales person. Ásgeir decided to leave Habasit’s previous business partner, and join Gúmmísteypa instead. Ásgeir’s experience and contacts are very valuable, and the company is proud to have him on its team.

In the past, customers and companies used to contact their suppliers whenever they wanted something from them, whereas today, these companies expect their suppliers to come to them, and demonstrate what they have to offer. “I hope to get out and meet the customers more myself,” says Berglind. “We have much more to offer our customers now, and as our product range expands, so does our expertise.


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