Member of the Month

Successful internationalization thanks to S-GE network

Member of the month August 2020 – Condair Group

Relative humidity of 40–60% is ideal for the immune system and respiratory tract, in order to successfully fight viruses and bacteria. The Condair Group uses this clear, scientific evidence and, with its technologies, ensures an optimum indoor climate in more than 22 countries. CEO Oliver Zimmermann spoke to us about the challenges and the recipe for success in international business.

Condair Group

With over 750 employees, the Condair Group is the world's leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial air humidification systems, with annual sales of around CHF 180 million. It specializes in creating an ideal indoor climate with its technologies, keeping energy consumption low and reducing environmental pollution. With its brand, it sets standards when it comes to energy efficiency and hygiene. 
 
Scientific studies prove that a relative humidity of between 40–60% is optimal for our immune system and our airways, and it helps to successfully fight viruses and bacteria. It reduces the spread of seasonal respiratory diseases, which in turn means it ultimately lowers the burden on society. The Condair Group includes sales and service organizations in 22 countries, production sites in Europe, North America and China as well as international sales partners at more than 50 locations.

Mr. Zimmermann, what are your most important export markets and why?
Our ambition and vision at Condair is to deliver productivity, sustainability and health through air and water. Our main markets are Europe (Germany, France, the UK, Holland, Italy and Scandinavia), North America (Canada, USA, Mexico) and Asia (Japan, China, Australia). We are globally positioned; the Swiss market accounts for just 5% of sales.
Air humidification systems make an important contribution towards a person's health. We spend a large part of our lives indoors. And studies have shown that a relative humidity of 40–60% indoors significantly reduces the transmission of viruses and bacteria. If we heat our rooms in winter and cool them down in summer, the relative humidity can quickly drop below 40%. The demand for humidifiers is highest in our major markets due to the cool climate. In these industrialized countries, focus is also placed on the quality assurance of our customers' products. Many important production processes in the printing, textile, pharmaceutical and electronics industries require not only an optimum temperature, but also precisely controlled humidity, which is typically 50% relative humidity. Drier air has a negative impact on production processes and on our health. This means industrialized countries with a colder climate have the highest demand.

What challenges do you face in these markets?
Our mission is to promote public awareness of healthy air quality – air humidity protects! And it is quite challenging to develop people's understanding and awareness of this issue. We spend around 90% of our time in closed rooms. In the air quality guidelines, the national authorities and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have not yet defined a lower limit for humidity, which should be taken into account in building standards or regulations. With our technology, we would be able to better protect people against the next pandemic, if directives were available for this.

What is your recipe for successful export?

"Our success is based on proximity to our customers, excellent service and high-quality products. Local presence is therefore very important." 

With our service team, which can always be contacted by our customers, we are able to offer installation, commissioning and maintenance work on site. An understanding of our customers' requirements, the quality of our products, good networks, efficient internal processes and open communication result in an above-average customer experience, as we can respond precisely to individual wishes and requirements. We understand their specific needs and are committed to providing them with professional advice and support as well as energy-efficient solutions for health, productivity and sustainability. The references on our website speak for themselves.

Where do you see your export opportunities for the future?
Our opportunities are driven by organic growth in our core business area. Geographically, our greatest growth opportunities are in Asia and Latin America. Demand from the healthcare sector, especially in Europe and North America, is also an important pillar of such growth. Our entry into the market for professional solutions for private households has gotten off to a successful start in Switzerland with our new "HumiLife" range of products and services, and we intend to move to other foreign markets during the course of the year.

What do you particularly appreciate about Switzerland Global Enterprise’s (S-GE) consultation?
S-GE is very interested in making a contribution towards the success of its customers. The willingness with which contacts from their own network are shared is extraordinary. 

"We benefit from their experience, their advice and local relationships in the individual markets. S-GE has helped us significantly with our vertical integration and geographic expansion."
 

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