Housebuilding today is the sum of many things. Interesting design, sustainable construction and a healthy room climate have all grown tremendously in importance. And building itself is also becoming more digital. The long-established company Baumit is a beacon of construction excellence and stands for modern, high-quality products. Sebastian Rettke, Head of Marketing at Baumit, talks to us about how the building materials manufacturer is tackling digitalization.
From a small lime kiln to global player in dry mortars and paste products. Please tell us a little about the milestones in the history of Baumit.
Our company has been in Germany since 1902 – so for almost 120 years now. However, our origins lie in construction lime burning. In 1997, our current parent company Schmid Industrie Holding established Baumit Germany, gradually integrating all business units under the Baumit brand. Since 1990, we have opened various regional companies in central and Eastern Europe, enabling us to be represented in a total of 27 countries throughout Europe as well as China today. Baumit manufactures building products for interiors and exteriors, for shell construction and for gardens and landscaping. Here, innovation has always played a role – very much in line with our ‘future-proof ideas’ mantra. For this reason, important milestones include our products used in the conservation and restoration of historical buildings – we have the largest formula database with an excess of 900 formulas, the development of our thermal insulating composite systems, such as the superinsulating facade, and recently our holistic healthy interior offering.
Enabling all people to live healthier, energy-efficiently and more beautifully is your vision. How do you achieve this?
Here, our products play a major role, of course. Nevertheless, we have to say that healthier, energy-efficient and beautiful homes involve a whole range of factors. We have to bring all parties involved together: the planners, the specialized craftspeople, the specialist retailers and, of course, the building owners. Our great strength lies in creating networks. And our products are the driving force. However, all stakeholders have to be involved in order to achieve a healthier, more energy-efficient and beautiful home.
Baumit is further expanding its business in 27 countries. What challenges does internationalization bring with it?
It is important to establish all regional companies in a group-compliant manner. It is frequently not that simple due to country-specific building legislation. And the market penetration among the regional companies and the level of development of the respective markets are often disparate. Here, it is important to develop and integrate tools that enable us to exploit the strengths of all countries and to simultaneously standardize processes. And speed also plays a role. Today, it is no longer the big that eat the small, but the fast that eat the slow. For this reason, we have to be agile and closely coordinated to identify market developments early on. It is the only way to set the course in good time.
What role does digitalization play for Baumit? Which partners are you collaborating with on this?
The building materials sector is in the process of transforming digitally, particularly in the areas of e-commerce and e-procurement, but also with regards to marketing automation. For this reason, we monitor our market environment very carefully and develop solutions with which we can support our customers and specialist retailers in particular. Whether this is with clean data exports, EDI data or even customized content, we try to cater to our customers requirements as closely as possible. Viamedici is an important partner for us, because the company provides holistic support for the group with all its regional companies.
You launched the Viamedici EPIM system back in 2009 and it has meanwhile been rolled out across the group. What are the greatest benefits for you?
As a user, the most important benefit are the dedicated, extremely competent employees who know the system inside-out. To this end, we are able to turn to assigned contact persons regarding all issues, contact partners who have been looking after us for years. Also, the processing speeds are important to me – not easy given our group structure – as is the project execution quality, of course. And it is in these areas that Viamedici has always performed excellently to date.
As the largest of the regional companies, Baumit Germany has more extensive requirements for its Viamedici EPIM system than the other – frequently very small – regional operations. What does this mean specifically?
Considerably more people work for our clients than at our small regional companies. As a consequence of this is, we have had to create processes that come with reciprocal information requirements, monitoring, escalation levels and much more. At the same time, we conduct projects in close liaison with our head office, such as generating documents from master data. Following the successful implementation in Germany, these projects will then be rolled out in other countries as well.
In 2017, the Baumit Germany marketing division launched the ‘Golden Product Record’ project. What is this about?
Our objective is to raise the level of our internal communication with regards to product data. With a total of 520 employees, we are too large to allow communication between PM, QA, sales and marketing to be ad-hoc. With the Golden Product Record, we have created a standardized communication tool that distributes information based on rules – and only the required information and only for those members of staff to whom it is relevant. For example, we can now see whether product data has changed in the product management system on the basis of a marketing report, and allow these changes to flow into our materials and channels. It prevents redundant data and communication loops between the various departments.
What other measures are you planning to implement within the context of digitalization?
In future, we will continue to augment our data with ever more content. For the Viamedici EPIM system, this may be somewhat trivial – but for the company, this involves a great deal of work and expense though, like for creating video content or series of application images. Furthermore, the individual exports will increasingly have to be customized in the future.
Sebastian Rettke is an international business administration graduate and has been Head of Marketing at Baumit since 2016. He was responsible for introducing Viamedici EPIM to the German regional company and has been involved in its further development throughout Baumit Group ever since. Earlier stations in his career include stints in the marketing and sales divisions of industrial automation and logistics software companies.
Baumit International is the umbrella brand of two Austrian building material producers, founded in 1988, with locations in Wietersdorf, Wopfing, Bad Ischl, Peggau and Leoben. Baumit is the market leader for plaster and lime products in Austria and third in Europe. The group has locations and subsidiaries in 28 European countries and the People's Republic of China. In 40 plants, Baumit produces about 6.5 million tons of dry mortar per year. Baumit Deutschland is a nationwide supplier of branded insulation, paint, plaster and renovation systems. The building materials producer with its headquarters in Bad Hindelang/Allgäu has 10 plant locations nationwide with 500 employees. Its customers include dealers, specialist tradesmen, architects, planners and housing companies.