Intelligent lifestyle solutions: Häfele Functionality

picture of José Lorca from Häfele head office during Accuride interview.
Helle Kinning
ByHelle Kinning,EMEA Marketing Manager
Published by :Accuride International

Accuride seized the opportunity to have a brief chat with Mr José Lorca at the Häfele Head Office in Nagold, Germany. Mr Lorca is the Head of Product Management.

There’s a lot of talk in the B2B sector about Social Media and how it could be used beneficially – the same as in the B2C market. What is Häfele's take on that matter? Do you use it to communicate with your existing and new clients; how do you keep control of messages across the world and what do you get out of it?

Häfele already started with the "Easy-Link" web-shop in the 90s, which was quite new in those days for the B2B market.

Social Media is a megatrend and of course also offers great potential for Häfele.

We see our profiles in social networks as a way to expand our service and to talk to both new and existing customers.

The Häfele organizations around the world use Social Media and we can listen and react to our customer’s needs wherever they are.

Has Häfele seen any new business opportunities during the recent recession and how have you benefitted?

This has been a difficult time for people.

But those who have some savings would rather invest it in something lasting, something they can use in their everyday life, rather than sit and wait and see what’s going happen.

So they decided to spend their money on a new kitchen installation, for example, or perhaps added an extension to their house

What are the new emerging furniture/house/building trends & designs in Germany? How does Häfele respond to them; do they follow the trends or even create completely new ones? Do they have special research/new product development teams?

The trend for the past four to five years has been to combine various aspects of living space, for example, the kitchen and living room.

There has been a social change - life is more combined if you know what I mean. People work from home so they want to have a practical office that could turn into a living space or a bedroom.

At the same time, space gets more and more expensive. People are moving from villages to towns where space is also limited, so we can offer very smart and compact design solutions for every home. For example, your office desk can be turned into a bed in just a few seconds!

I would definitely say that we create the trends and not just follow them.

The turning point was Interzum 2007 when we started showing our products in lifestyle environments. We built real-life scenarios of a bedroom or kitchen where all the components were cleverly displayed. People came to our stand and found it easy to imagine how it could look in their own homes. We started offering not just a product but intelligent lifestyle solutions. We named it Häfele Functionality.

Häfele has its own product development teams and factories. We celebrate our 90th anniversary this year and have reached a 1 billion Euro turnover worldwide.

What is your favourite innovation from Häfele and why?

Oh, there are so many of them!

I think one of them has to be this office desk that magically turns into a bed, also our new swing up lift fitting ‘Free flap’.

You really need to visit our exhibition stands to see the concepts for yourself. These are all actually very simple and easy-to-install systems - but often the smartest things in life are simple!

Are there any completely new markets opening up that Häfele would like to get involved in?

Definitely Eastern Europe, India, China and Turkey. All these markets are rapidly growing and offering opportunities too good to miss.

So far, I would say our Dialock electronic lock system has opened new markets for us where we weren't involved before.

What is your strategy to protect good quality products like yours from the onslaught of cheap competition from the Far East?

EU legislation, which issues laws for certain quality standards and product life guarantees, supports to maintain quality standards.

But companies need to be savvy and astute. We obviously patent our innovations and invest in development. You always need to stay a few steps ahead of your competition for survival.

Brand name and what it stands for really counts. Customers want to feel safe when they purchase and have trust in the company they are buying from. We are also careful when we select our business partners and suppliers, such as Accuride.

Are there any new laws coming into force that Häfele could take advantage of?

From 1st July, you need to certify that your architectural products are fulfilling the EU standards* and that you follow them.

Manufacturing companies have to make a declaration of performance for the end user, which assures the quality standard.

In your role, what are your aims and objectives for Häfele?

I have been with Häfele for many years now. I enjoy being an innovator and to push innovations. My motivation is to see happy customers and to contribute to better solutions for furniture fittings and architectural hardware. (big smile)

*Construction products regulation EU No. 305/2011.

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