Volker Aufderhaar is a Key Account Manager at family-owned German tile manufacturer Argelith Bodenkeramik, one of Kemtile's key partner suppliers. Volker explains a bit more about the world famous Argelith tile and background to the 145-year old business.
Founded in 1870, the firm started out producing bricks for the construction industry, but by the 1960s Argelith had moved into making 15-20mm thick industrial tiles and the first market the company served was the automotive sector, supplying tiles for heavy-duty areas in bodyshops.
In 2001 the business built a factory for pressed porcelain tiles. Customers wanted bigger tiles and lighter colours with more choice, a trend which led directly to the introduction of the new factory.
Volker explained: The main characteristic of the porcelain tile is that it is very dense and vitrified, behaving very much like glass, with low water absorption and good hygiene properties so that it is very easy to clean.
With this new product Argelith decided to focus on supermarkets and food and beverage industries.
Today supermarkets make up about a third of the companys turnover, a third remains in automotive and the final third is focused on the food and beverage industry a fast growing area for the company.
Argelith has around 100 people working in the factory in Bad Essen in northern Germany and another 40 in sales and administration.
They have offices all over the world including Chicago for the North American market, Dubai for the Middle East, Moscow for Russian-speaking countries and also in Katowice in Poland, which is Argeliths longest-established export market.
In the countries where Argelith does not have directly employed staff, the company develops partnerships with contractors or other importers. Kemtile is Argeliths commercial partner in the UK.
Volker prides himself on the strong links he has forged with the Kemtile team since meeting them eight years ago.
He continued: We have a good working relationship. We have capitalised on their excellent reputation in the UK food industry and together we have opened up opportunities for both of us in Europe.
We knew that they used hexagon tiling and have, over time, become a preferred supplier to them. We have provided good product and gone over and above with customer service which has been important.
We also invest in the relationship, we do exhibitions and I travel the world and respond to specification requests from customers in food and beverage markets across Europe. Likewise, Kemtile is working for us, with specifications here in the UK. It is a win-win for us all. Growth is significant.
Volker again: I look after key accounts like Coca-Cola, Heineken and SABMiller and have a portfolio of clients in places like Spain, Scandinavia and Turkey. I also have responsibility for other key regions like Asia, Africa and Australia. I am on the road a lot!
Volkers admits the globe-trotting nature of his role can be tiring.
It is fantastic on one hand, but can also be a bit stressful for family life and your own health. Crossing timezones can really upset the body clock, but I like it and I could not sit in the office every day.
As for England, everyone is always so concerned about the weather, but there has been sunshine on my most recent visit so that was great. In fact Warringtons climate is very similar to my home town in Germany so it isnt an issue!
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