"Flame protection has great strategic importance for Nordmann." Interview with Ralf Meier
For the past 1.5 years, one of Nordmann’s teams in Europe has been working on something called a "Roadmap for Flame Retardants". What can you tell us about this project?
The idea for the so-called “roadmap” came about two years ago, when we wanted to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the pan-European market and develop a strategy for our Group as a whole. First, we began looking at the potential of our flame retardants in individual markets. From this, we identified very specific sourcing targets as well as business opportunities. At the same time, it also became clear that we needed to establish a few additional measures in order to harness the full potential of our products.
The project began in earnest in February 2020 at a workshop in Warsaw and was then continued in May as part of another meeting; thereafter, however, we could only continue to collaborate on virtual platforms due to the pandemic.
Our project meetings always involved 20 to 30 colleagues from countries all over Europe. This past January, a final meeting took place in which we were able to propose a strategy to the company’s managing board on how we would like to position ourselves now – across Europe – in the field of flame retardants.
Since then, we have already been seeing our first wins. We have gained new suppliers and been lucky enough to expand our business with existing suppliers to include other markets as well.
As of July this year, you took on the role of Business Manager Flame Retardants Europe. What new tasks have come with the position?
In addition to my previous tasks concerning the flame retardants business in Germany and Switzerland, I’m now additionally responsible for the technical-related work and business development throughout Europe. My role within this new European concept is – among other things – to bundle together the individual activities of our subsidiaries, to uncover synergies where necessary and to optimize these for the purpose of knowledge transfer. I would like to make the knowledge we have available to all our subsidiaries and colleagues in the Group who deal with flame retardants. Another goal is to communicate more closely and increase our visibility – be it through an intranet that will allow us to share success stories with one another, or by attending more trade fairs or conferences together. In Europe, there is still a lot we can do in these areas.
How can our Nordmann customers benefit from these changes?
Many of the customers that we supply in Germany, for example, have international branches that we can also deliver to. For example, we were recently able to supply products to a customer's location in the UK using our Nordmann network. We can of course do the same for customers in all other countries. One of the most important advantages for Nordmann customers, therefore, is the availability of our flame retardants throughout the whole of Europe – along with our Group’s expertise.
What plans do you have for the future?
Our team plans on doing customer visits and product trainings together, for one. We also want to implement an international project management system so that we can better supply our international customers in particular with the right raw materials at the right time and the right place. I think that if we work more closely together, we will be able to achieve our growth targets with greater confidence. The flame retardant sector is of considerable strategic importance to Nordmann; we already occupy a leading position in the market due to some of our company’s own NORD-MIN® products, and we would like to see this success extend out to other European countries.