Headquartered in Tubingen- Germany, CHT R. Beitlich GmbH is a chemical company active in more than 50 countries throughout Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Africa. Since 1953, the company has engaged in the development, production and marketing of auxiliaries for the textile industry. The products offered by CHT are applied in pretreatment, dyeing, finishing and lubricating, textile printing, surface flocking as well as textile coatings. Catering to the Textile processing markets with innovative, high quality, and customer-oriented products and services, CHT is backed by workforce of more than 1,500 employees. Dr Norbert Weigand is at the helm of the affairs, handling global network of CHT group successfully. Mr Weigand, born in 1945, completed his studies in 1974 with a Doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Saarbruecken. He started his career at Schülke & Mayr GmbH, a subsidiary of the former pharmaceutical company Sterling Drug Inc. During the period 1980-83, Mr Weigand worked for CHT Group. From 1983 till 1990, he worked with Schülke & Mayr, serving as Managing Director responsible for R&D and Production. In 1991, he rejoined CHT Group as Managing Director for Production and was appointed CEO and President for the entire CHT Group in 2000. In Face2face, Mr Weigand delves on REACH, a major subject under scrutiny and deliberations, the world over. He also discusses about specialty chemicals business, at length.
Can we start with a short flashback about CHT Group and its current position in the market today?
In 1953, Reinhold Beitlich founded CHT in Tuebingen, near Swabian Alb, an important centre for the textile industry in these times. The philosophy of Reinhold Beitlich was - being close to customers and offering comprehensive technical service. Already in the 60's, CHT founded its first subsidiary in Austria, followed by additional subsidiaries in the main textile centres of Europe, e.g. France, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, UK and Turkey. The first subsidiary outside Europe was founded in the early 70's in South Africa, followed by Brazil. In the 80's and 90's, further own enterprises were established in the US, in Colombia and last but not least, in Australia and Asia, in countries like India and China.
Meanwhile, the CHT Group comprises of 20 subsidiaries with the latest one in Pakistan, founded in 2005.
Besides the subsidiaries, CHT is serving its customers globally through approximately 30 agents and distributors. It is now a global player, developing, manufacturing, and distributing chemical specialities to the textile processing industry and is amongst the leaders in several markets, worldwide.
CHT has about 1500 employees and sells products to more than 120 countries. In 2006, CHT's consolidated sales amounted to EURO285 million.
How has CHT been successful to mark its presence in the vast textile market, while managing such a giant network?
Managing successfully such a giant network for CHT is only possible with a lot of confidence and trust in motivated local employees. CHT's philosophy is not running the subsidiaries with expatriates, but with local management, knowing best the culture and needs of the employees as well as the customers.
Another important differential vis-a-vis our competitors is that CHT is in the ownership of a foundation assuring its future independence.
Conventionally, business model for companies in textile industry comprises of big budgeted R&D, populated product list, and a strong market promotion? How has this strategy been useful for you to grab large market share? Or has CHT been innovative to this end?
It is correct that companies in the sector of textile processing industry mostly have a populated product list, accompanied by more or less big budgeted R&D and a strong market promotion.
CHT's strategy was and still is, to offer our customer a full range of products covering all aspects of textile processing; e.g. pre-treatment, dyeing, finishing coating, dyestuff/pigment printing as well as screen-printing and flock. Textile auxiliaries are completed by fibre auxiliaries as well as dyestuffs from our subsidiary BEZEMA AG, Switzerland. As important as a populated product list, are experienced technicians supporting customers in problem solving and improving productivity.
The centre of competence for textile auxiliaries is in Tuebingen-Germany, where more than 160 people are engaged in R&D and application technique, whereas the centre of competence is at BEZEMA in Montlingen, Switzerland. Fibre auxiliaries are developed and manufactured in Oyten near Bremen, Germany.
Important for global success in all CHT companies is a comprehensive know-how transfer to the local acting technicians. This is guaranteed through regular training sessions within different centres of competence as well as permanent support and visits by the technical experts from different divisions to our customers, together with the local technicians worldwide. Additionally, CHT invites customers at technical symposiums in Tuebingen and Montlingen to intensify the technical dialogue and relationship.
Besides technical support, ongoing training and education of our local technicians, product innovation is driving the success of our customers. A promising field for the future is Nanotechnology. For example, we have just launched products iSys MTX and iSys AG with nano silver particles incorporated in a sol-gel-matrix for different applications like antimicrobial-treated fabrics in healthcare.
To underline its strong market position, CHT participates in the most important textile fairs, e.g. Shanghai Textile Fair held in April this year, Tech Textil in Frankfurt, in June 2007, ITMA in Munich, September 2007, NanoEurope in St. Gallen, September 2007 and Tech Textil in Mumbai, October 2007.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.