The first time Chief Sales Officer Roberto Martinez considered joining Kaldewei, it was in the wake of a meeting with the bathroom manufacturer’s owner Franz Kaldewei. As the great-grandson of the original founder, and part of the fourth generation of family owners, Franz had a clear vision for the company, and that clarity of purpose sold Roberto into joining the company.
“When I met the owner, I saw his spirit, his vision,” Roberto recalls. “I also knew I could learn a lot about the trade and identify opportunities within the company. I immediately recognised the great potential the company had. The superior steel enamel and exclusive bathroom solutions, high-tech production and 30-year warranty, and the company’s know-how – this motivated me to join Kaldewei in 2013. Taking over the role of Chief Sales Officer in 2017 was going a step further.”
Roberto is driven by the goal to participate in formulating the company’s vision and infuse it with his own strategy. Kaldewei has an illustrious legacy, having recently turned 100 and, unlike many bathroom manufacturers, the German-based company considers itself a specialist, focusing on a niche range of unique, innovative products. This specificity is one of Kaldewei’s core strengths.
“We recognise that doing everything for the bathroom makes it convenient for many market participants but, at the same time, how can you guarantee you’re finding the best solution for each function, whether that’s toilets, bathtubs, showers or basins? That’s where our opportunities lie,” Roberto says.
“We focus on just three main functions – bathing, showering and basin washing – and create solutions around them that add value for our clients.” The solutions include technical ones like slip resistance, seals and noise absorption; and creative experiences like SoundWave, a bluetooth sound system built into Kaldewei’s stylish bathtubs, or discreet jets that emit micro-fine bubbles into the bath, creating a luxurious, relaxing experience.
Roberto says the company aspires to be the most valuable – not necessarily the most expensive – brand in every bathroom. This value is created not just by technological novelties; Kaldewei is the only bathroom manufacturer to make its own steel enamel. The manufacturer’s enamelled products are sustainable and recyclable, the production process is almost waste-free, and cleaning and maintenance is easy
With these few specialised product lines and advantages, Roberto believes Kaldewei is ready to expand its reach to a global market. His vision involves creating value and specialty products of tomorrow. “We have a mission to become a worldwide partner for iconic bathroom solutions – not a seller, supplier or producer, but a partner.”
The Asia–Pacific region is a particularly promising market for Kaldewei, with its enormous potential for growth. “It’s a large and incredibly diverse region, so it requires locally customised approaches country by country,” Roberto says. “Cambodia is different to Singapore, which is different to Malaysia or China. We see the challenges and opportunities in that. Our go-to market is locally driven and customised. That speaks very well to our strategy, being a worldwide partner for iconic bathroom solutions.”
The manufacturer’s first store in Singapore opened in 2012, and the brand has a presence in almost every major city in the Asia–Pacific region. Whatever challenges Roberto faces in helping Kaldewei develop its presence within Asia, he’ll benefit from his 25 years of sales experience, such as his role encouraging market adoption in Eastern Europe. Though the region was less economically developed, he and his team partnered with small start-ups, which today have become large and successful businesses.
As Kaldewei grows, Roberto provides his team with the autonomy to fulfil their roles, guiding them to achieve their goals, but not presuming to know more. It’s a collaborative style of leadership, and the support he offers has gone a long way towards inspiring his passion for growing sales.
“I saw that I could enable people to grow to achieve things they’d never believed they could,” says Roberto. “Leaders develop people to grow within their responsibilities and beyond. It doesn’t matter whether they’re young or old. Everybody has their own potential. It’s fulfilling to see that you can encourage people to celebrate their own results.”