Shortage of raw materials, supply chain problems across industries and the associated price development also presented the windows, doors and facades market with challenges. Frank Schneider and Jörg Rutkowski look at the 2021 balance and provide an outlook.
metallbau: Mr Schneider, what was Akotherm’s experience with market developments and the related inventory control and logistics challenges?
Frank Schneider: Well, we have never seen this supply shortage in the raw materials sector and the resulting obstacles in construction. The situation was also quite challenging for us – and it did some creativity to be able to meet our commitments to our customers and partners. We planned large volumes of materials early, when the situation became apparent, and with the exception of a few special profiles we have always still be able to deliver. Which did impress some of our new system partners. However, we do see the situation has not subsided, and we still can’t predict when and to what extent this turmoil will subside.
metallbau: How are you handling the turmoil?
Schneider: Here at Akotherm we formed a team of workers from (almost) all departments which regularly exchanges on the market developments to be expected and our options. We managing directors are also part of this and closely tied into operations – we’re aware of the concerns and what needs to be done.
metallbau: Speaking of “management”. Another managing director was added a year ago, Jörg Rutkowski. What were the reasons?
Schneider: The reasons were simply the company’s above-average growth and the variety of duties management has today. Just think of the duties and needs with respect to digitalisation. I have known Mr Rutkowski for over 10 years at our company. He last was commercial director and the step to executive management seemed logical to me. We have built a trust over the years which also made it an easy decision for me. We are managing the company together – always keeping an eye on the market and the needs of our customers and partners.
metallbau: Last year you launched two new systems. Tell us a bit about which systems and why these could be of interest for your customers.
Jörg Rutkowski: I assume you’re talking about the AT 575 series and the AT 840. The AT 575 window facade is a profile system predestined for use in building renovations. With a visible width of 50 mm it is highly interesting to architects, but also for the metalworking companies, which can use it extremely efficiently in production and installation. The AT 840 system originated from the international project business and was developed for tall buildings and high wind loads. But after introducing this series, our partners showed a growing interest in this series, as this sliding series is a genuine experience with respect to assembly and functionality. The first systems in the private sector thrilled builders just as much.
metallbau: Can we also expect new products this year?
Rutkowski: Of course. Our development engineers are always working on optimizing existing systems and new systems lines, as already explained. I can’t give away too much about this, but metalworkers can expect more system developments. Always with an eye on benefits for our fabricators.
metallbau: Mr Schneider, when it comes to other areas aside from innovative developments, what other topics are relevant for you?
Schneider: Well, of course just like everybody else, the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on employees, customer and business in general is on our mind. We hope our company’s health management can contribute to prevention. A large number of our employees has been working from home for some time – others were provide one-person offices. But as you can imagine, the options are somewhat limited. Especially when there are new hires due to growth.