With clean lines, innovative designs and streamlined elegance, Geberit’s sanitary systems reflect the company’s belief that there is luxury in simplicity. For Simon Wong, Managing Director of Geberit Group North and South East Asia, simplicity also means space.
For this region, with its rapid growth in urbanisation and skyrocketing real estate prices, maximising space and creating backend efficiency has become an imperative.
Swiss-listed company Geberit Group is a European market leader in sanitary technology and bathroom ceramics with a global footprint stretching over 50 countries with around 12,000 employees.
With the acquisition of Sanitec Group in 2015, Geberit was able to come out from behind the wall and use Sanitec’s design expertise to create a front-end bathroom solution that complemented its back-end technology.
With a background in Mechanical Engineering and Technical Management before joining Geberit in 2015, Simon knows a thing or two about the functionality of bathrooms. Although luxury and toilets are not something that normally go hand in hand, for Simon it all makes sense.
“Apartments are getting smaller. We focus on how we can keep all the storage behind the wall so we can focus on bathroom fittings and creating clean usable space in the front,” he explains.
“Even though living space is becoming smaller through urbanisation, living quality shouldn’t be compromised. It’s about having spaces that offer cleanliness, accessibility, space, useability and comfort. As a group, we invest heavily in R&D, which means we can introduce more innovative products into bathrooms to help meet these needs.
“We think global and act local. By providing feedback to our R&D division, our clients’ specific regional needs can be incorporated into future product designs. The market here is so vibrant and full of opportunities. But even within a region there are still differences from market to market – culturally and in living habits. There is no one strategy that can fit all.
“We think global and act local.”
“We’re always looking for ways to achieve simplicity and remain focused. Because there are so many opportunities, it’s easy to get distracted,” he laughs.
“We identify markets where Geberit is under-represented then focus on the development of these markets. Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam are all exciting markets with scope for growth. Sometimes it contradicts the opportunities in these regions but we’re doing our best to focus on simplicity.”
Despite the diversity of markets, one fundamental thought remains constant that unites the different approaches. The Geberit Compass is at the heart of the company, and shapes its culture. “The Geberit Compass captures our values succinctly,” Simon says.
“We focus on people because they matter in our business. This extends to not just our people but to our partners and clients, and how we interact and collaborate across functions and teams.”
When asked about his leadership, Simon pauses, before he says, “I’m always learning. I want to learn about people and I want to learn from them. It’s like peeling an onion; I want to understand what is behind their thinking, to hear about their challenges and what we can do better. I’m very open-minded and my door is always open.”
Simon encourages a culture of constant learning. “I’ll ask my team, ‘What have you learned in the past year?’ and ‘What was your greatest accomplishment?’ There must be some lessons learned to make us better.”
“There must be some lessons learned to make us better.”
When it comes to interactions beyond the company, Simon sees the relationship that Geberit has with dealers and distributors as a partnership and they are the voice of their clients when it comes to the function and design of Geberit products.
“We want to understand our partners’ challenges, so we encourage them to share their feedback about the market trends and their company direction,” says Simon. “The more we understand each other, the more we can adapt our solutions to the needs of our partners and their clients.
“We build partnerships as well as friendships. We discuss our annual and quarterly plans and review them regularly so, as a partnership, we can make the best decisions. We also engage with their marketing teams to create campaigns that explain how Geberit solutions can help them. You can’t sell our products and systems from a catalogue.”
When describing what he loves most about his job and what inspires him every day, Simon doesn’t hesitate: “For each project, Geberit has been chosen not just for the strength of our brand but because clients value the solutions that our products can offer. They really know why they’re using Geberit in their bathroom.”
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