Working in the Region
Brian: We have very good partners in the region, so when something does come up, we have their support and vice versa. Despite the Global pandemic, Interstuhl has had a very good year with successful projects in Egypt, Kuwait, UAE and KSA. We launched HUB and already installed a few projects, as well as redesigned our showroom here in JLT, Dubai. Our new HUB range, which debuted at Orgatec, arrived during the lockdown, so we did face some challenges. We also had to put our training and events on hold, however, we are now moving forward with digital and are already planning small gatherings within the right safety measures.
Bernd: It is different working in this market as opposed to Germany, in the sense that this market is more project oriented. The size of these projects as compared to Europe is different. One of the key projects I need to mention was one in Abu Dhabi, when we supplied 20,000 chairs in one batch to Zayed University. Such project sizes are not common in Europe.
The business model here is also very people oriented. We decided almost four years ago to put our feet on the ground and open a regional office. We are forging those connections and letting people know that Interstuhl is not just a company in Germany, but they are present in the market.
We have almost all products available in our showroom, so we would not expect our partners to have the full range of products in their showrooms. So each partner has a range to focus on, and we support their activities with mockups and presentations in our showroom, and more such services. In certain projects, we have custom options as well coming in, therefore our presence in the region really comes to use.
Sustainability Aspects of the Brand
Brian: Something that I found really interesting on my first factory tour of Interstuhl was that the brand was using the waste from the local farms nearby to heat the factories, along with solar power panels.
Bernd: During summertime, we can generate more than 50% of our energy needs in the factory using sustainable methods as Brian mentioned. Sustainability for us also means people, those working in Interstuhl and the society at large. The company is located in the South of Germany in a small village, with a population of almost 1,200 people, most of whom are working at Interstuhl. So, there was always this responsible, sustainable path we pursued to grow our brand. We are one of the few companies in the industry that still applies for all the audits of sustainability guidelines and certifications. We can also provide individual documentation of the pre-past consumer use of recycled parts, and we make sure that the suppliers who give us the raw materials undergo similar certifications.
Brian: We do plan to grow further in the region and work through this office once we continue to improve our footprint in the GCC markets. We are one company with two brands. We are planning to continue to grow the Interstuhl Brand. At the same time we want to further expand our opportunities with Bimos, which are chairs that meet specific specifications, and can be used in clean rooms, laboratories, industrial and manufacturing areas. Given the current situation, we have some new products and accessories that will be launched soon and also our new digital newsletter, with insights and knowledge sharing, will be very interesting.
Right now we have launched HUB. We showed what was coming at Orgatec 2018, however, it was very early and not yet available for order. We started releasing it internationally on March 1, 2020, and we already have our first project in the UAE, with hopes of more opportunities around the Gulf. HUB was planned to further enrich our seating solutions, especially in the open and collaboration areas. Within these areas created, people can meet with distance and still conduct interviews, formal and informal meetings, integrate technology, build ideas together, and more. Don’t forget to check out the HUB Swing! Of course, there will be further developments within HUB to adapt to the market and the situation.
We have also just launched a new product, Shuffle, which is an additional product for the pantry, informal meetings, coffee breaks, and bar height areas. Interstuhl had limited options for these areas in the past, and Shuffle is helping expand here with more solutions.