The customer is on the focus, not in the way. This is an important issue of the corporate philosophy and strategy. The responsibilities of Roto call this “a consequent customer orientation in all areas”. The editorial wanted to know what exactly this means. The result was an exclusive interview with the complete executive board of the international group. The questions were answered by Dr. Eckhard
Keill (chairman of the board), Michale Stangier (chief financial officer),Leonhard Braig (chief executive technology windows and doors) and ChristophHugenberg (chief executive roof window and solar energy).
“To be faster than the others”
Roto’s executive board about customer benefit, differentiation and other ambitions
Let’s talk about your fair slogan of the fensterbau/frontale this year. “Close to the customer” – this is Roto’s theme since many years now. Why do you rely so much on this slogan Dr. Keill?
Dr. Keill: We believe that we can achieve stable growth only
with a strict customer orientation. We want to differentiate us in offering
more benefit to our customers than the competition. This is the base of our
positive corporate economy which enables us to come off well even in stagnating
or declining markets. The foundation of success: we enforce everything what
increases the own performance and is noticeable by the customers. This is also
valid for ranges, delivery performance, logistic, sales, marketing, and
M.Braig, we already heard some keywords of your sector. How do you define the
main criteria of being close to the customer in the production?
Braig: Our task is to orientate our international networked factory unit 1:1
to customer’s demands. Extremely important hereby is of course the delivery service.
The production systems and material flows in the factories are created in a
certain way in order to meet the customer’s needs completely concerning delivery
accuracy and frequency. In addition it is important to be always in contact
with the window fabricators in order to be integrated as soon as possible in
any changes to our customers, and so being able to implement alteration in our
work immediately. “Just in time” is not a fixed measurement, it changes
is this also valid for the product development of the window and door technology?
Braig: Of course. Market analyses and continuous conversations with our
customers are indispensable for us. What is the trend of windows and door? Are
there new application technologies and /or opening types? What does all this
mean to the hardware? You will get answers, which are close to the field to all
these and other exciting questions, more likely if you speak with the
professionals on site. After that it is our job to develop and produce
appropriate products on budget.
Have the customer demands, for example the delivery performance and the logistic systems of the industry changed substantially within the last years?
Braig: Indeed. Just think of the progressive automation of the window
fabricators. Nowadays they also think a lot about processes. This results in a
clear profile which has to be fulfilled by the industry in order to guarantee a
trouble-free production. This means: we have to delivery not only in time but
also in quality, in cost and precisely timed. This can be realized only if our
suppliers integrate themselves perfectly into our supply chain.
In the past, you mentioned often that Roto is strong in the delivery performance. Will
Braig: I am confident that we can hold and expand our achieved competitive
advantage in this matter. At the same time we want to meet the premise of
delivery accuracy, -faith, and speed of delivery in the total range. By this I
mean the total spectrum, from the common main series to the quantitatively
small special articles.
M.Hugenberg, how do you definite being “close to the customer” for the division
roof and solar technology?
Hugenberg: Many companies think to know from own findings what the customer want.
We choose another way. We listen carefully to our customers and ask their
demands. Hence, we know the topics our customers have to face every day on the
construction site. We are interested in what is really important to our
customers, namely the craftsman on the roof, and to the retailers in their
buying decision – at home and abroad. Some years ago, we already did such a
survey in the division of roof and solar technology. This we dated up now. At
the moment we are evaluating the results and will- if necessary – adapt our
concept. You see: The customer pushes the process. This is very important to
Do you implement this topic integral in your division?
Hugenberg: A definite “Yes”. For Roto and hence also for the division roof and
solar technology, the customer orientation is not restricted to some fields
like sales. Instead it applies to the whole company: Everything the customer
does not value can be left out. That is why we got used to see as well the
“world of roof and solar energy” from the eyes of the customers. I think this
is simply more intelligent and promising.
M.Stangier, at the moment it is difficult for me to see the relation between the
customers satisfaction and your finance department. Could you help me with
Stangier: I’m happy to do so. Both fit very well. Because: Customer satisfaction
is not dividable, a good finance department provides input as well. This has
been proved by extensive studies. They say that companies are most successful
when continuously acting according to the customer benefit. They win market
shares and generate growth – which is fortunately both the case of Roto. What
does the finance chief executive contribute? Well, he has a part responsibility
of controlling the costs, the processes and that the commercial transaction
with the customers is efficient. That’s
why we take care that customers and process orientation is one unit – as
Leonhard Braig already mentioned. We have to be efficient in performances which
have a big benefit to our customers. Exactly this balance is the recipe to
You are also responsible for the Human Resources for Roto. How do you recognize that an
employee has the necessary customer orientation?
Stangier: Of course this depends also on the position. But at the end we need
for all positions employees who do not only accept the company’s philosophy
verbally but also live it. So, it does not depend on the right attitude. In
this respect we search employees who fit into the “Roto family”.
Customer orientation, is it a question of generations?
Stangier: No, I don’t think so. Elderly employees often feel what is right and
important to the customer and what brings him benefit, due to their experience.
An advantage of the younger generation maybe is that today there exist better
tools for a systematic study of this subject. But, the willingness and the
ability to be close to the customer depends more on the single person than on
So the right mix is what counts?
Stangier: You could say so. While elderly people, as I already mentioned,
dispose of more experiences which they can pass to younger colleagues, the
younger people often have other or new ideas. Just look at the new medias who
will possibly also revolutionize the customers relations. In addition we must not
forget that within the customers the generation changes as well.
Mr. Dr. Keill: Do you think that the customer orientation of Roto is an element of
strategy which will be permanent?
Dr.Keill: I am convinced of that. Michael Stangier already
pointed out that companies who offer their customers more benefit than the
competition are more successful. When we look at Roto’s development in the last
years, we’ll see that this was exactly the case – in both divisions. Partly
enormous market share gain is an indication. When we, as the executive board,
are not always (completely) satisfied with the “dimension” and the earning
growths, it is surely comprehensible. We are finally a traditionally Swabian
company. As you know: Who stops being even better, stops being good.
With that focus on customer orientation, Roto sees itself original. How do you
estimate the danger of copies?
Dr.Keill: In this sector you have to expect it – and we do
expect it. However we take it sporty. We want and will defend our lead. Our
task is to be always faster than the others. In this sense we continue in our
For the continued success of Roto Frank AG, there have
been also personnel changes on the management level. The basis is the long-term
contract extension, decided recently by the supervisory board, of all 4
executive board members. According to Dr. Michael Stahl (photo), this ensures
the necessary continuity of the company strategy. This ensures as well a market
and customer adapted development of the international group, says the chairman
of the supervisory board of Roto. Professional excellence, human integrity and
common values and convictions are reality in Roto’s executive board and
indispensable for really good leadership. “Everybody speaks the same language”,
emphasizes Dr. Stahl. This applies also to the collaboration with the
supervisory board. Both, executive and supervisory board, pull together – and
very important- in the same direction. The permanent binding of Dr. Eckhard
Keill, Michael Stangier, Leonhard Braig and Christoph Hugenberg to the company
guarantees internal and external stability and assures the foundation of a
positive future of Roto.
For more information on Roto Frank AG contact
Gregory Timmermans Marketing – Western Europe