Roofing Today last week visited Kemper System’s headquarters in Kassel, Germany. Opened in the 1970s, the factory researches, tests, produces, packages, despatches and exports all Kemper products from this site to Europe.
In many ways, Kemper System displays all the strengths of what we in the UK think of as a typical German company: a family ethos, dedicated to high standards, producing a quality product and consistently investing in research and development.
But that’s not to say that the liquid applied waterproofing company does not have to compete in what is a very aggressive domestic and global market. Kemper has to contend with equally-established global competitors and last year implemented a new strategic approach which Sebastian Babel, Head of Marketing describes as a “push and pull” tactic.
This has meant capitalising on Kemper’s strength as a reliable, high-quality manufacturer with clearer, refreshed branding and ‘pushing’ the new Kemperol 1K.SF solvent-free product, as well as the whole product range. Meanwhile Kemper is ‘pulling’ interest in its solution-focused approach tailored to meet each customer’s project needs. The success of this strategy is demonstrated as the company developed Kemperol 1K sample kits for roofing contractors, resulting in a massive rise in sales and a 98% customer satisfaction rating.
This year the company is focusing on its digital offer with the UK’s newly-developed website, a new German website in the pipeline and a new, very classy, hi-tech two-storey exhibition stand to be unveiled at Bau, Munich early next year.
For the UK, the digital update includes using the TeleLook app to extend Kemper’s support for contractors onsite, as well as a review of the Kemper range to ensure compatibility for UK conditions. Peter Dietrich, Kemper’s UK Managing Director explains that traditionally in the UK a limited number of Kemper products have been used and it’s now time to offer the full range of waterproofing solutions, already available in Europe, for all flat roofing types and as complete system solutions, as well as for balconies, walkways and parking decks – not such a headache as might be thought since all Kemper products are already designed and tested to the very high standards demanded for the German market.
Head of Technical, Dirk Nicklas, has been with the company for 24 years, including in the sales and export departments, and it is his job to ensure product compatibility for UK conditions. This means constant product testing and development to ensure that every Kemper product is produced to the same standard and quality whether it is destined for the UK, India or China, such as ensuring all Kemper products can function at temperatures from -30oC to +90oC.
The impressive Kemper laboratories are critical to maintaining product development and quality standards, sampling every consignment that leaves the building as well as operating a diagnostic function by testing installed application samples. Here, also, lifecycle testing is conducted to continually advance ease of application and longevity of products, investigating long-term exposure to UV, rainwater, and temperature extremes.
Many of Kemper’s employees stay for decades after completing their apprenticeships with the company and this means that the technical staff has developed detailed and specific expertise in the materials that make up Kemper products. Personally remembering the inception of a product and its individual journey through development to sale on the open market, gives Kemper’s staff a deeply invested sense of almost parental pride in their products. This pride is evident across the business and makes the German headquarters such a valuable resource for the UK company to draw on.