View from the top: An elite service

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

SolidWorks reseller NT CADCAM can boast a number of prestigious accolades. Paul Fanning finds out what makes it special.

Of around 430 resellers of its products that exist worldwide, a mere ten can lay claim to the status of 'Elite Reseller' bestowed by SolidWorks. Among this select group is UK's NT CADCAM, which can also boast a position as the only SolidWorks Tier 1 reseller in Northern Europe.

These accolades, according to NT CADCAM's sales and marketing director, are reflections not only of the company's commitment to serving its customer base and consistently improving its service, but of the quality of its people.

"Yes we've got great products and industry presence," he says, "but we understand that people buy from people. So we have invested in some very high-calibre people who are experts in their fields. We recruit high-calibre engineers and put them through a lot of certification. We hire degree-qualified engineers as sales executives. After all, SolidWorks is no different here than it is in China, Japan or the US. It's the quality of the people that train, support and implement it that makes the difference."

The Elite Reseller status is awarded based on NT CADCAM's quality of service, quality of attention and customer satisfaction, while the Tier 1 status reflects its ability to demonstrate, train, implement and support the whole of the SolidWorks portfolio. They are extremely hard-won, as McArthur makes clear: "SolidWorks put us through a lot of hoops and hurdles in order for us to achieve those quality metrics. While there is no direct financial benefit or preferential treatment, the fact that we've striven to make our company better is of huge benefit to our customers."

If the company's performance this year is any guide this benefit is clearly appreciated. In the last 12 months, NT CADCAM has brought in 223 new accounts, a performance that McArthur describes as "outstanding" and one that clearly gives the lie to any suggestion that the UK engineering sector is in any way saturated by 3D CAD. This is an idea that McArthur encounters regularly. He says: "People think we must have saturated the UK engineering market with 3D software by now. But the reverse is actually the case. There must be 100,000 companies in the UK designing and manufacturing products and a lot of them are still using traditional, manual methods to do so. So the world is our oyster in that respect."

Of the 223 new customers secured over the last 12 months, McArthur estimates that 20% were migrating from another 3D package to SolidWorks, with the rest adopting 3D technology for the first time. Even so, the company still meets considerable resistance to the adoption of 3D CAD. He says: "We come across every excuse in the book for not investing in this technology: 'We've always done it this way'; 'We went to the moon without 3D CAD', 'Our products don't lend themselves to 3D'; 'We don't need pretty pictures'; and 'We're quite happy with what we've got'. But if they took the time to look, they'd see a significant business benefit. There are a lot of customers out there who still draw their products in 2D because that's what they've always done and nobody's ever shown them what can be achieved by doing it in 3D modelling."

However, he believes that this is probably an issue that will change as a new generation of 3D CAD-trained engineers comes into the workplace. He says: "Most of the major engineering schools and colleges – and all the major Universities – are using SolidWorks. So we are educating the next generation of engineers in the benefits of 3D – and SolidWorks in particular."

One of NT CADCAM's key advantages in winning new business is the sheer breadth of its experience and customer base. This, says McArthur, allows it to demonstrate where it has solved problems similar to those faced by prospective customers. "One of the beauties of being 100% focused on SolidWorks," he says, "is that we come across engineering companies with similar problems. What I mean by that is that SolidWorks can solve numerous design and engineering challenges and we'll come across those every day of the week. So the benefit of us having done this for so long is that we have come across your problem before, solved it before and we've got a customer base of about 2,800 customers doing that on a daily basis."

In addition, the sheer variety of customers that NT CADCAM has means that it is able to offer experience in most fields. With customers in markets from industrial equipment to consumer goods, medical equipment and even the building of submarines, there aren't many sectors that are new to the company.

Even so, McArthur makes it clear that there are usually more similarities than differences in the problems faced by its customers – regardless of the sectors in which they work. And, for this reason, he says, NT CADCAM's approach remains fundamentally the same. "Ultimately, our focus is always on three things: we try to help our customers in time, cost and quality. If we can do things quicker, we save them time and money. We mix and match time, cost and quality all the time to make sure our customers get a return on their investment. We give them more time to design better-quality products."

Going forward, McArthur believes that the signs for NT CADCAM remain extremely positive, despite difficult economic conditions. In fact, he believes the difficulties of recent years have made companies more inclined to invest rather than less, saying: "I think recent events have meant that there is now a smaller number of competitive companies. So, rather than there being 10 companies in the market, there are five, but they are in a much stronger position. Now you've got five guys bidding for the same business and they've got to clearly differentiate themselves and will invest in techologies such as SolidWorks to gain a competitive advantage. So a lot of what SolidWorks can do for them is help them win that business."

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