Traditional Safety and Security Brands within a Multinational Concern
The Novar, Esser and Ackermann brands, among others, all belong to the giant international Honeywell concern. While it is sometimes easy for smaller acquired companies to be enveloped by the corporate behemoth and disappear, these divisions are maintaining their profile by continuing to provide innovative products and pro-active customer service. GIT-SECURITY.com interviewed Martin Bemba and Klaus Hirzel of Novar about how the synergies of belonging to such a large group can be fully utilized.
GIT-SECURITY.com: Mr. Bemba, you have been Director of worldwide business for the product ranges of the ‘Esser' brand for some time now. How international is this well-known brand today and what role does the Honeywell concern play?
Martin Bemba: When I started my career over 25 years ago at Esser as an apprentice electronics technician, most of the turnover was generated in German-speaking countries. Esser has continuously grown since then, not only organically but also through acquisitions. In March of 2008 we extended our portfolio by the acquisition of voice alarm components (PA/VA) - an impressive success story. This rounds off our portfolio which extends from detection through bus-supplied alarming to PA/VA and reinforces our claim as ‘Expert for safety in buildings'. We have also grown strongly internationally in recent years, in particular in the BRIC regions (Brazil, Russia, India and China), but also in other regions. This year, for example, we have opened an office in northern Africa and in Turkey. As other Honeywell divisions already have branches and customer contacts in many locations, the group affiliation is very beneficial in extending the business of Esser internationally. The international portion of our total turnover has become significant in the meantime and possible weaknesses in certain regions can successfully be compensated for by our global presence.
Which particular regions provide the most potential for security technology ‘Designed in Germany' in your opinion?
Martin Bemba: During my long periods of residence abroad it became clear that products ‘Designed in Germany' enjoy a very high reputation.
Innovation and product quality are just one element here. The customers also appreciate the intuitive interaction with the products, the excellent support during planning and putting into service, the local presence and not least the good value for money. We are proud that Esser fulfills all these points and in many cases is viewed as a pathfinder. ‘Designed in Germany' is, in my opinion, not just a value promise but also a convincing argument worldwide.
Markets and companies are constantly changing - at Esser and Novar too. When you compare the cooperation with Esser customers from the year 1990 with those of today, what major differences do you see?
Martin Bemba: In the coming year we will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the venerable brand of Esser. We are very proud that we have maintained close customer contact during all these years. Some of our first customers are among the largest Esser customers in Germany. We have successfully grown together with our customers. There will soon be a generation change in some of these companies oder customers and that gives our communications department new challenges. As a result, we have revitalized our Internet presence and we are using new methods of information transfer; we provide webinars on specific subjects, supported by short films that provide answers to the most commonly posed questions. And in the future we will extend our training program with e-tutorials.
Novar relocated earlier this year. Tell us more about the reasons for this move.
Martin Bemba: As our business has continuously grown, so has the need for space. Until recently we were divided across various buildings in Neuss. This restricted the interfacing between various divisions of the company. Now these divisions are housed in one new building and the communication has improved immensely. In addition, we are currently equipping a new presentation room and our comprehensive range of training courses will soon also be held in the new building. The relocation will be completed this year and the manufacturing brought together at our former location.
Mr. Hirzel, you are responsible for the Esser fire alarm technology and voice alarm business in in Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. You were previously Head of Sales in these countries. What has changed now in your daily work?
Klaus Hirzel: As Head of Sales I could never complain about a lack of responsibility. This responsibility has of course become larger in the new job of Director, but fundamentally not a lot has changed. We all work together for the company good. As Head of Sales, one is focused more on short or medium-term goals, on the next month, the next quarter or year end. The long-term goals are however decisive for management: the strategic direction of the company in the next 5 years under particular observance of the existing firm partnerships is one of the main tasks. We maintain a very close, personal contact to our customers at Esser that I personally don't want to miss, and I believe that makes us special. Judging by the continuously growing need for security in the community, some innovative concepts and corresponding solutions will be demanded as well as professional products. So it is not surprising that the security technology industry is still creating growth. The figures published by the ZVEI confirm this and we would like to continue to make optimum use of this potential through strategic partnerships and personal customer relations.
The new Management has started with the goal of solidifying the current market position of Novar and Esser at Honeywell - which new products or services will help to achieve this?
Klaus Hirzel: I don't want to say too much but we will be extending our portfolio with our new FlexES Guard management system and an enlarged palette for complex industry applications, loop control technology for PA/VA as well as further small systems.
On the subject of products: what will be ‘new from Neuss' on show at the Security exhibition in Essen with regard to fire alarms?
Klaus Hirzel: We will be showing interested visitors all the products I mentioned before on our stand number 211 in Hall 3 - supported by live presentations - and of course we'll be happy to explain their corresponding added value.
Voice alarms have continuously grown in importance in recent years. Why do you view Novar as a forerunner in this market and what do you see as the next challenges in this sector?
Klaus Hirzel: As Mr. Bemba mentioned at the beginning, we have reacted in time to the growing together of fire alarm technology and voice alarms. Our customers benefit from the fact that we can provide trend-setting solutions in this field and give them access to other technologies, products and services. Starting with detection and moving through bus-supplied alarming right up to SAA, and with a supervisory management system on top, we provide a complete portfolio and we want to continue to prove our claim as ‘experts for security in buildings' in the future.
Could you give us a small insight into some of the most recently completed projects.
Klaus Hirzel: From the many projects with the highest technical challenge that we have realized together with our installers there are a few particular ones that are worth mentioning where both voice alarms and fire alarm technology have been implemented with a serial connection. These include the Emporio Tower in Hamburg and the Neue Chirurgie (New Surgery) in Ulm. The newly installed public address system in the main station in Munich is also an example of how successfully large projects can be carried out. It is a comforting feeling to have when we find that the high quality products from our from our fire and PA/VA divisions guarantee trouble-free operation of this complex technology.
Gentlemen, thank you for the interview.