A member of Roto management since 2008, Francesc Gimeno has responsibility for sales and marketing operations here in Western Europe as well as Southern Europe and Africa. Roto More spoke to him to find out how he sees the industry and Roto at the start of a challenging 2022.
There are currently a lot of challenges in the window and door marketplace. How do you see the immediate future?
“Well of course if you look at the news right now you see a lot of negatives: corona, inflation, rises in raw material costs and supply issues, electricity and gas prices skyrocketing.
As we have seen, Roto has taken action to remain successful. The group increased its turnover in 2021, and this was in all divisions including FTT (window and door hardware). We are fortunate that the construction industry has not been affected anywhere near as much as some sectors that were devastated by the pandemic.
For now and into the future, the home renovation sector is going to be very important. People understand that improving their homes is an investment and not a cost. They can increase the resale value and if they also improve energy efficiency for example, this really pays for itself.”
Are homeowners becoming more discerning in their choice of windows?
“Yes, this is something that is happening. Windows used to be seen as just an element of a house. Most homeowners were happy with a window so long as it was of reasonable quality and fitted in with the design of the home. Now there is more appreciation that a window can be a premium product.
Investing in new windows is an improvement that is within the price reach of many people. They can get immediate benefits, such as not needing to have the heating on all day long. Consumer surveys are showing large percentages of homeowners planning to replace old windows and doors.”
“Most homeowners were happy with a window so long as it was of reasonable quality and fitted in with the design of the home. Now there is more appreciation that a window can be a premium product.”
How has the pandemic changed your sales operation?
“It has certainly reduced face-to-face meetings and interactions, but it has not stopped business. I’m very happy with the way our sales teams have continued to stay in touch with customers. There may not be the same number of visits as in the years before 2020, but from our CRM data you can see how many conversations are taking place on a daily basis. People are communicating.”
How else do you think the pandemic and the change in people’s working priorities has affected the industry?
“I see more projects starting this year than they did in the years before the crisis. Here in Western Europe, we have worked on a number of new projects: concealed door hinges for aluminum and the expansion of Patio Inowa sliding for both wood and aluminum are two examples.
Customers have also had more time to think on strategic plans. They have taken the opportunity to invest, moving towards more automated production for example. We can see this reflected with the boom in the sector for window manufacturing machinery.”
Speaking of the next decade, what challenges do you foresee for the industry?
“A big challenge for the construction industry is going to be filling the skills gap. This is something not just for building constructors but also those of us in the supply industries.
We must admit that construction and window manufacturing are not perceived as high-status professions. That is not to say you can’t make money from this industry –– the opportunities are certainly there –– but young people do not necessarily see it as a desirable sector in which to work.”
“The big challenge for us in the next few years is to find the best people by becoming an even more attractive employer.”
How will Roto Western Europe attract talent?
“I think we must focus on our strengths as a great and rewarding place to be. Here, everyone is accountable for their work and has the ability to grow their role. Our process organization is very open to new ideas. We have a high level of spirit of participation.
We have a worldwide customer-oriented process organization, and this makes it much easier for people to work within Roto Group and develop according to Roto values. This in turn makes us an attractive international employer in our industry.”
Roto is strong on digitalization. How about your customer base?
“Our industry is unique. The digitalization of the window industry is happening at varying degrees. When it comes to communications with customers, we have not found one way that works for all our clients. For example, many companies want more in-person visits rather than meeting online. Our aim is to give customers what makes them comfortable for doing business.
In terms of our own information technology, Roto More is a very valuable tool because it integrates our regular communications with lead generation.
We are already established with Roto Con Orders, our main platform to exchange product data with customers. Also, Roto City is enabling us to provide remote presentations and this application is evolving all the time. So, we are very ahead of the curve when it comes to digital, but it is good to have the flexibility to do things in different ways. Some clients are happy to use Zoom, others prefer ‘real life’. Some will ask for digital documentation, others want a hard copy. We adapt to the customer; we don’t expect them to adapt to us.”
What message do you have for customers at the start of 2022?
“We thank all our customers and partners for doing business with us. It’s a tough situation right now, but I say take care and we will get through it. We are confident in being able to maintain these positive relationships. Other industries are in much more complex situations. When you look at our market, it has a strong future with plenty of opportunities. I see a positive 2022 ahead.”
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