Following KHD Wedag's recent reorganization, CemWeek spoke to the company's CEO, Mr. Jouni Salo, about the changes, the industry and strategy. We also touched upon the Colonge-based industry major's success in Asia and in particular India and discussed what has brought this success.
CemWeek: Thank you for taking the time to talk to CemWeek today. A lot of things are going on at KHD that we look forward to hearing your views on. While we are of course familiar with KHD, perhaps we could nonetheless start with you telling us a bit about the group?
Mr. Jouni Salo is KHD Wedag's CEO, based in Cologne. Mr. Salo is Finnish by birth and has spent more than 25 years working in the industrial plant equipment sector, most recently with Metso Minerals as head of the construction materials division.
His career has taken him to many different regions of the world but he has always been involved with industrial plant equipment. Mr. Salo joined KHD two years ago as head of the cement operations, when the cement market was still growing strongly with a brief to further expand this business, and was subsequently appointed as Chief Executive Officer in April 2009.
Mr. Jouni Salo: Thank you. Of cousre, to start with KHD has a very long history, over 150 years, and the company has changed a lot over that time period. Today we are very much focused on our core skills and on serving our customers, which are predominantly in the cement sector.
KHD’s process knowledge has always been at the centre of our offering to our customers and we are putting renewed emphasis on understanding the changing needs of our customers and supporting their growth in both mature markets such as North America and Western Europe and in emerging markets, such as India. I think that KHD, over the years, has been associated with excellent quality equipment and this has not changed.
CW: KHD recently underwent some important changes. Why did you decide to reorganize the company? Why now and how will this change help you position you better within the cement industry?
JS: I think that you have to see the reorganization of the company in the context of the cyclical nature of the industry that we operate within, as well as the recent history of KHD.
The last ten years have seen tremendous changes in both our customer base and in the competitive landscape and I would argue that this is simply the latest step in the evolution of KHD. The whole industry witnessed perhaps an unprecedented boom in demand up to the end of 2008 and this made us somewhat complacent.
Our focus now is very much on taking what we already do and improving this. Being closer to customers, understanding their needs and making sure that we meet and exceed those requirements is central to our competitive offering.
Similarly, improving and strengthening our product portfolio, putting increased emphasis on our environmental offering and expanding our customer services business is also part of ensuring that we are competitive and able to fully meet the requirements of customers. We have been in this business for over 150 years and want to still be in the business in another 150 years.