The Slovenia Times

Darko Bevk, Knauf Insulation: Insulated Against Tough Times

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How would you sum up the work of Knauf Insulation?
We offer the widest range of insulation materials in the region and this enables us to offer the best technical solution for any application. Our goal is to offer our clients a top end service, from planning to completion of the construction project.

The company is part of the Knauf Insulation Corporation, which has production facilities across Europe and America. How is the sales system organised at the local level?
Slovenia is part of the Central European sales region which also includes Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia and Bosnia. Personally I am in charge of sales of construction and technical insulation in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. In addition to a production unit in Ċ kofja Loka we also have one in Novi Marof, Croatia. Our sales range includes stone and glass wool, extruded polystyrene, wood wool and various foils, which are produced in other corporation factories.

What is the situation on the insulation market like today?
The situation today is particularly difficult. Over the last two years we recorded a significant decline in residential and non-residential building activities. The real estate market is saturated and the recently issued building permits give little reason for optimism. Most construction companies are in an unenviable condition, payments are not procured regularly. The situation in Croatia is fairly similar, the drop in residential segment activities started in the same period as it did here, while greater decline in non-residential, commercial buildings was recorded in 2011.

How do you manage to maintain sales rates?
One of our strategies is to expand our sales range and introduce new, innovative products. We invest great efforts into promotion of the benefits that quality insulation brings in terms of energy efficiency. Our estimate is that renovations are the one segment where activities can be expected to go on unhindered, or even increase. Energy efficiency today is the most important issue on individual, social and economic levels.

How does good insulation make a difference to energy consumption and the environment?
In Europe, 40 percent of energy is consumed by our buildings. Insulation materials are proven to be the key factor that contributes most to smaller energy consumption. Renovation of building's thermal insulation brings savings for owners and users, and also helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

How can insulation influence the national economy?
Apart from lower energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gases emissions, insulation can, from the national economic perspective, bring a number of parallel positive changes with immediate effect: crisis recovery in the construction sector and the economy in general, new jobs in building and civil engineering industry, economic growth, energy independency and systematic curtailing of the grey economy.

What resources are you using to try to influence market and social developments?
Our stance is proactive, innovative and collaborative. In November 2010, together with other producers we established a Trade Association of Economic Interest of Producers of Facade Systems and Thermal Insulations (GIZ PFSTI). The Association aims to get producers of construction materials, particularly energy efficient ones, actively involved in shaping the economic policies regarding the construction segment.

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