“No one looks at a cabinet and sees the screws or the hinges. They see the pantry that’s making life easier for their family and they feel that emotional benefit,” says GM of Sales and Marketing for Häfele, Simon Lount.
For nearly a century, German-founded Häfele has been providing hardware, fitting and electronic locking systems for contemporary living spaces. “The business started out in the city of Nagold as a traditional hardware shop selling fittings for carpenters and joiners in the German Black Forest area. In the beginning, the products were very furniture-construction-focused: screws and nuts and bolts for traditional cabinet makers and joiners. Since then, we’ve expanded to nearly 40 global subsidiaries and become one of the largest hardware manufacturers and providers in the world. Not only do we provide solutions for kitchens – soft-close drawers and hinges, cabinetry construction, lighting, interiors and storage – but we manufacture our own products for the kitchen and right across the home.”
The goal, Simon says, is for Häfele to be the “one-stop-shop for hardware and building professionals. Within New Zealand, we’re very focused on that cabinet-maker and joinery factory market, but we also offer a vast range of architectural solutions for clients like group-home builders and bathroom manufacturers. In the 30 years we’ve been operating in New Zealand, we’ve always been the strongest partner for the cabinetry and joinery industry, but we also have a large channel for architects, designers and interior designers; the people who specify and plan the jobs, not just those who are doing the ordering.”
With the company now in its third generation of family ownership, it’s little surprise that Simon has stuck with Häfele throughout his career. “If you look around the business, almost everyone is staying with the company at least 7-10 years. Häfele is very staff focused with a lot of opportunity for exposure to the group outside of the New Zealand subsidiary, so my story has pretty much been with Häfele since I entered the work force.” Simon’s experience with the company began on the phone in customer service before he went on the road as the direct contact for industry professionals in the lower North Island. For the last 8 years, his focus has been on product and marketing, and learning more about the business at their New Zealand head office in Auckland. In 2017, he was given the opportunity to move his young family to Häfele’s global headquarters in Germany. “I guess it was a leap of faith, but I already knew the company so well that I knew what to expect. I spent 3 years there looking after a department which focused on retail concepts. That exposure to the global group was an amazing opportunity to gain new skills and bring them back to New Zealand.”
Since arriving back in Auckland last year, Simon has turned his focus toward marketing and sales which, he says, is an easy job when you believe so completely in your product. “I believe we have the best product out there and it’s very hard to tell me otherwise. The partners that we have in Europe are the finest producers of kitchen and storage systems in the world, and our access to those markets means that we are on pace with or ahead of the world in terms of market trends. We’re also keeping a close eye on global and environmental trends, which is why our environmental management plan ensures that all of Häfele’s production processes are actively minimising emissions, waste and energy use.”
Simon’s objective now is to spend the next 12-18 months meeting with key decision-makers in the New Zealand industry and creating more of a presence for Häfele in the architecture and design community. “We have established a specific designer channel within our business where we really want to become the product and resource of choice in the industry. In addition to our existing showrooms in the three major centres [Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch], on the 10th of September we’ll be opening a space in the Home Ideas Centre in Parnell where consumers and designers can come in and get inspiration for their projects.”
Häfele also has its sights set on industry education and, Simon says, they are eager to maximise their recent partnership with Teulo. “We have two accredited webinars coming up with Teulo. The first will be focusing on our precision sliding pocket door systems which can partition spaces, then fold and stow. The second is around our recent work in assisted living installations, both in facilities and in the home. Our ageing and mobility-impaired populations need better, more accessible solutions, and we’re eager to share the work we’ve been doing in that space over the last 12 months around adjustable bench tops and cabinets. In creating future-focussed, accredited content with Teulo, we’re excited to offer another layer of support, and to reinforce our place as a strong partner for the architecture and design community.”
To learn more, visit, https://www.hafele.co.nz/en/, sign up for the regular Häfele newsletter and follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.