Pfizer Puurs is a Belgium based production and packaging site. They have 2 major product types: Vaccines like the pneumococcal vaccine and the Covid 19 vaccine, whereof 400 million units were produced at the site in Puurs, and sterile injectable drugs like the injectable contraceptive.

In the last 5 years, the site attracted over 500million of investments from the NY based headquarters, which resulted in the hiring of 1,000 new people.
The site that has currently more than 3,500 collaborators, exports their products to 176 countries.


6 years ago, we targeted Pfizer to become a new client and with no earlier established contacts, we setup up a 5-step strategy:

  • The first step was getting in. We used cold sales to get some preliminary contacts.
  • The second step was building trust by executing some core strength activities.
  • The third step was winning some small, fixed price projects.
  • The fourth step was growth by expanding services.
  • The fifth step is and will be scaling across sites and borders.

Step 1 – Getting in

The plan kicked-off around end 2016 / begin of 2017. We used cold sales to achieve the first contacts and acquire the first job. We specifically targeted a job where we could proof our expertise to use as a showcase. For this, we selected a senior electrical engineer and connected him to the site.

As the customer was not aware of our capabilities and was used to work with body shop companies, we received the same typical customer request. We want the best services, people on the lowest rate while PAS management won’t have direct contact with the Pfizer sponsors but through a middleman.


Step 2 – Building trust

For this step, we learned the site and client standards, as a first. We mapped out decision makers through org charts and regular meetings, we adjusted to the business culture and procedures, and we built PA’s visibility by follow up our onsite engineers.

In 2017 and 2018, we slowly expanded our onsite T&M based services by monitoring the needs and act on them.


Step 3 – Show capability

In the 3rd step, we used our onsite presence to prequalify us for fixed price projects. We established contact and gave presentations to procurement, the engineering decision makers and the management.
The first opportunities were mainly E&I-driven but evolved to a combination with other automation disciplines like siemens Tia, the GMS systems and new technologies like Zenon. The fixed price aspect gave us the opportunity to train new engineers with the Pfizer standards and to broaden our contacts.

As the construction was part of the total scope, we needed to find a trustworthy construction partner that delivered quality. Construction plannings are shifting daily and without having the volume to ensure blue collar continuity, this was a challenge.

While we faced some resource constraints due to the other projects, we managed to win projects in 2019 and 2020 by teaming up with the CFB cluster.

Step 4 – Growth

The 4th step was growth and expanding our services to other disciplines:

  • We expanded to compliance services like Data integrity and part11 Compliance
  • To some MES, OSI PI and Recipe Control activities
  • We did consultancy for Machine Safety and ATEX
  • And executed some Siemens Software projects


Via our onsite engineers we found out that there was dissatisfaction about JC regarding the BMS and EMS system. We found a senior profile when we searched the market for this specific competence and combined T&M opportunities with fix price projects.

Currently, we are adding a second profile on the technology while knowing that the coming years a lot of migration and greenfield projects will come on this technology. We have established internal and external meetings to focus on account management and the frame agreement negotiations are currently ongoing.


Step 5 – Scaling

As a last step, we want to scale the opportunities through future key account management across the sites and borders. We want to improve the structure and setting up a frame agreement, strengthen our account management approach using a touchpoint matrix. Finally, we want to start with exploring the possibilities for other BU’s like digitalization and process.

What were the key takeaways for us:

  • Strategy was successful but it takes time to build trust and to gain ground within a new client who has an established base of house contractors
  • We followed a bottom-up approach to gain trust among the engineering departments
  • Local site presence is key in building visibility
  •  Maybe another point of attention is to avoid conflict of interest between the onsite team doing owners engineering and the back-office team executing fixed price projects.


To grow, further we focus on hiring resources specifically for the site and getting agreements with trustworthy installation companies. As a final point, future account management with cluster leverage could additionally enable us a top-down approach, attracting more business.



Bart Eeckhout, Antwerp, Belgium