A year of fantastic growth and new concepts for customers18-12-2019
By Carsten Jespersen, CEO, KE Fibertec AS
Review of the past year
2019 began with high activity on all major markets, and our concern that the geopolitical instability of the US-China trade war and Brexit in the UK would stop growth in textile duct sales was completely unfounded. All our main markets have performed.
A fantastic first half has been replaced by a more unstable second half, but overall KE Fibertec is very pleased with 2019. As a minimum we reach a bottom line result at the level of the record year 2017, and the slowdown that we have seen here after the summer holidays, we also experienced in the second half of 2018. Perhaps this is more an indication that our high and low seasons have become more unpredictable.
New Express delivery concept
KE Fibertec has worked for several years to optimize order flow and lead times. One of the advantages of textile based ventilation is that it is tailored to the individual project. The disadvantage, purely logistically, is that a stock of finished goods cannot be built up to balance the seasonal fluctuations in the order volume. We have solved this dilemma by dividing the orders into different difficulty levels.
The simple orders, which can be immediately approved by the customer at the time of ordering, are released for production within two hours. Here in 2019, we have introduced an Express delivery concept at our Danish factory, where the order can be delivered within five days, if desired. In addition, our customers save two to three days on transit time compared to deliveries from Eastern European factories. We are very pleased with this, because delivery time is becoming an increasingly important sales parameter.
New washing and service concepts
In January 2019, we launched our own in-house “KE Fibertec Laundry” in Vejen, DK, to meet the expectations of our many existing laundry customers. Expectations that we could not meet by using an external supplier. Customers in the food industry put completely different demands on their own documentation, disinfection, control of textile ducts for wear and damage before shipment than does a customer with a single textile duct installed in an office environment.
KE Fibertec Laundry recently obtained the Nordic Swan label for both the Industrial Wash and the Advantage Wash, and we have developed an environmentally gentle antibacterial treatment that is part of our concept for the food industry. The advantage is that we do not use the environmentally harmful silver ions in the treatment. Our antibacterial treatment has just been EN-ISO 20645 and EN-ISO 20743 approved.
Sustainability in construction industry must be turned into a business
With the change of government here in 2019, there has been great focus on climate change and sustainability from all sides. KE Fibertec welcomes this focus because our building stock and manufacturers of building components account for a large part of the total CO2 emissions, and if there are to be any real improvements, everyone must take action. It is not enough for politicians to set ambitious climate goals. We need to get hold of the parties in the construction industry and not least the decision makers. They need to be much more ambitious when it comes to sustainability.
In 2012, as the first manufacturer of textile ducts in the world, we chose to have part of our product range certified according to the sustainability standard Cradle to Cradle. We have our own weaving mill in Vejen, DK, where all our fabrics are woven, but with increasing global competition from low-cost Asian and Eastern European suppliers, we could choose to outsource or upgrade our materials. We chose to focus on sustainability to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
We have subsequently learned the hard way that sustainability does not sell itself. Everyone can see the positive aspect in us being able to recycle our products, that our materials have 100% traceability, that we only use wind power in production, that we can guarantee that none of our fabrics are produced using child labour, and that all yarn dyeing is done with minimal consumption of chemicals and water. But if these initiatives make the product more expensive, it can only be sold in a niche market. We have worked hard to make our C2C materials more competitive, and today we sell them at no extra cost, something that we are really proud of.
A positive side effect from the large environmental focus means that in the period from 2009 to 2018, we have managed to reduce CO2 emissions by 56% for every Krone of sales. KE Fibertec aims to be CO2 neutral in 2030, not because we are “environmentally religious”, but because we believe that we can profit from it.