How does it feel working in a globally renowned company like Karcher?
Working at Karcher has exposed us to global innovative management processes and systems. It has helped us as inpiduals and as a group to develop our business acumen and even contribute our ideas. The creativity of our processes has also helped us think out of the box for everyday solutions, rather than following a rule book stringently. All in all, working at a globally renowned company has increased our knowledge and challenged us to develop ourselves: it has been a true motivator.
Could you tell us more about your products and how they contribute to the automotive industry?
We have two main product lines: professional and consumer products. In the consumer products segment, we offer products that can clean vehicles effectively and efficiently, which in turn reduce time, resources and effort. These range from high-pressure cleaners to steam cleaners.
In the professional segment, we have products such as automatic car washers that again use energy-efficient technologies. At automobile factories, companies can select from our range of industrial equipment from ultra-high pressure cleaners, scrubber driers, vacuum and steam cleaners.
What is the technology behind your cleaning solutions?
We were the first in Europe to develop a hot-water high-pressure machine back in the 1950’s. Since then, we have focused on different technologies and have been guided by ‘Sinner’s Cycle’, a popular concept in cleaning that emphasizes four factors: chemical, time, mechanical, and temperature in cleaning.
How do you show your commitment or contribution to environmental sustainability through the products you offer?
We are focused on using sustainable practices at our factories, headquarters, and regional offices, by recycling and other sustainable means. However, our biggest contribution is in the design and manufacturing of energy and resource efficient machines in both consumer and professional lines: these are the eco!logic and eco!efficiency machines, respectively.
Could you share with us how Karcher climbed up the ladder of success in the Middle East region?
Our success has a lot to do with the quality of our machines and pre and after-sales services. Our machines are customized to especially deal with the environmental conditions of the Middle East, i.e. fine sand and dust particles, allergens, and other environmental pollutants. We have also factored into our products the necessity for easy usability and easy functionalities given the many different nationalities in the region. Moreover, we have conducted workshops and seminars on how to use our eco-range of products and how to clean effectively.
What do you consider as the key element that has contributed to this success?
Outreach programs combined with demonstrations of our machine capabilities have certainly contributed to this success. Moreover, our machines are a statement of German-made design and engineering and perform very well in our region.
What is the major milestone you reached last year in the Middle East and what are your targets for this region this year?
We reached quite a few milestones in 2015. Among them was the recognition by the Superbrands organization in UAE of Karcher’s brand worth; and increasing sales in Qatar and Oman that reached over 50,000 and 26,000 machines and parts, respectively. For 2016, we are hoping to do more of the same but also to focus on our outreach and CSR programs in the region.
Given the instability of the present economy, what challenges do Karcher and the car cleaning industry face in this region today?
Operators are seeking solutions that allow them to maintain their operation while saving cost. We are prepared to develop and explore various new markets and provide multi-use machines that will most likely be a priority over single-use, specialized ones.
What strategies do you use to deal with these challenges?
A top strategy is always based on research. Our research informs us of market conditions, and trends, and thereafter the appropriate type and design of machine that would suit these changing requirements. Another strategy is our pricing—different segments and machines for each of these segments are priced differently. We also frequently carry out promotions that introduce and demonstrate our new machines.
You are a consistent official supplier at Dakar Rally. Could you tell us your role in this event and how it helps further cement your position in the global car wash and cleaning technology industry?
We have been participating at the Dakar Rally for the past 5 years, by providing state-of-the art cleaning solutions to the global car wash cleaning industry. However, we do not only clean the vehicles taking part in the event, but also the surrounding areas. Additionally, as a global brand we use this event to promote sustainability, for example in 2015, the extra powerful pressure washers and wet and dry vacuum cleaners saved almost 80% of water that would have been used if traditional hoses and sponges and were used. Our participation at such a prestigious and high-octane global event demonstrates our capabilities of scaling and handling time-intensive projects.
Back in February, for the very first time in any Arab country, you have been voted as a UAE Superbrand for 2016. What is the key factor that paved the way for this success?
There are a couple of factors that worked together towards us achieving this accolade. Firstly, the quality of our products has demonstrated to end-users our seriousness about efficiency and effectiveness. Secondly, our market segmentation has worked in the Middle East, promoting different products for different requirements and targets. Finally, our services both pre and after sales, as well as innovative and creative approaches to design and development, have left our customers with a good impression of the Karcher brand’s reliability.
We have heard that you developed a series of machines designed to clean cars and other small vehicles at the comfort of customers’ own home. Could you tell us more about your K4 and K4 Compact high-pressure washers?
The K4 and K4 Compact high-pressure washers are designed to bust stubborn grime conveniently. The K4 high pressure machine features a durable and powerful water-cooled motor and comes equipped with a Quick Connect gun and a 6 m high-pressure hose that makes moving around the vehicle easy. While the machine is primarily designed for the removal of dirt, the add-on Vario Power spray lance (VPS) and dirt blaster with rotating pencil jet are suitable for cleaning toughened and dry dirt, effortlessly removing the stubborn grime on cars.
However, this is not all the machine can do. Sticking to a multi-use concept, the same machine can be used on garden fences and the surrounding area.
True to its name, the K4 Compact machine is smaller, making it more mobile and easy to store.
What sets these pressure washers apart from those offered by your competitors?
We are the inventors of the technology and have perfected it over time. Our unique nozzles are patented and perform much better than any competitor in the market. Some of our competitors use Kärcher nozzles from 10 years ago. Our pressure washers are also more resource- and energy-friendly, and so our customers get more value for money as the costs for water, electricity, and detergents are all reduced. This is one of the main features that sets our machines apart from our competitors’ offerings.
Are they applicable for use in car garages?
In a car garage environment, choosing the right high pressure is paramount. The motor should be sturdy and heavy duty based, so professional machines are best suited as opposed to consumers’ machines.
This year, what are the latest trends in car cleaning?
For car enthusiasts, the trends remain the same: the pride of putting in the effort to clean their vehicle. However, we have seen related trends that revolve on quick turnaround times as well as resource-friendly and multi-use machines. These will influence the car cleaning industry too.
According to market reports, the Middle East automotive market is anticipated to grow twice as fast as North American and Western European markets by 2022. Also, the demand for car wash and car care services in the region is bound to increase alongside this growth. How are you gearing up for this?
We have had good success with our automatic car washes across the region. This is a growing trend and we are taking further steps to be even more competitive and deploy more of these solutions across our region.
As a provider of car cleaning solutions, what do you see as the most prevalent challenge faced by car wash businesses in the UAE, particularly in Dubai?
The market is somewhat saturated and segmented by various car cleaning suppliers. Remaining profitable in this sector means introducing regular new products, services, and also competitive prices.
When people hear the name Karcher, how do you want it to be remembered for?
Ideally, we want our customers to remember Karcher for its innovative, reliable, sustainable, and quality products, and services.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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