Published On: Wed, Mar 11th, 2020

Martin Hitchin, CEO of Rehau

First Job: My very first job was as a shop assistant at Dixons.
When did you join or set up current company: I joined Rehau in 1988.
Most useful/favourite gadget: Digital Camera.
Favourite/most useful website: Instagram.
Businessperson you admire: Tough one, I think that anyone that has a grown a successful company and kept it private with a good company ethos should be applauded.
Recommended hotel for business: New Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield is a nice central place to hold management meetings, otherwise Gleneagles!
Favourite UK restaurant: Le Gavroche in Mayfair.
Best business decision: One of the most important decisions I made was to invest in our recycling facility – PVCR in Manchester. With current global conditions, I believe this was a step in the right direction for the business.
Other interests: Cycling, baking, photography, travel, tennis.

Working Day: It’s hard to describe my typical working day as every
day is so different. I am a morning person and usually start work by 7/7.30. A lot of my day is about people – I make the effort to speak to customers regularly and have daily meetings with my management team, employees at our plant and at our head office to understand what is happening in the business. I am heavily involved in a number of European forums to exchange best practice as well.

Working Location: We are quite fortunate to work on such picturesque premises in Ross on Wye, which we relocated to in 1995. In total the premises are 101 acres and our offices are located near an old William and Mary mansion.

For over 70 years Rehau has been renowned as a premium worldwide brand, delivering polymer-based innovations and systems across multiple sectors, and predominantly within the window solutions, building solutions and automotive sectors. Its product and service excellence coupled with its incredible family values are among the few reasons that I have enjoyed being a part of Rehau’s incredible journey and team for over three decades.

Since inception, Rehau has continuously focused on redefining the construction and property landscape, and a look back over the last 12 months has been testament to this. Despite challenging market conditions, we did considerably well in the industry, especially towards the latter half of 2018. The uncertainty of Brexit means that it will be a tough market out there, with no one certain of how the industry will develop in the next few years.

As we step into the future, we remain optimistic and are confident our product excellence and high levels of service will prevail and give us increased value to drive the business forward. Despite uncertainties, we are confident in the market and that our place in the industry is strong owing to Rehau’s reliability, quality and heritage.

For us, risk mitigation is important, and we are doing everything we can to ensure there is no disturbance to supply. We have taken every reasonable precaution to mitigate risk. This has been evident in terms of stock supply and within our team we have procedures in place to address unforeseen issues that may arise.

Whilst we have German roots, we see ourselves as a British company and will continue to invest heavily to strengthen our position nationally. Ultimately, we are a strong family business focused on continually investing in the right ways in the future and we will accept any challenges thrown our way.

Through the years, we have placed a significant importance on providing the highest quality product for our customers. Our products and services have always proven to be fit for purpose for our network of customers. Traditionally we have worked directly with specifiers, project managers, architects, interior designers and installers to incorporate our products into projects in the construction sector. However, today we are determined to take this a step further and understand the intricacies of what the end consumer really wants – and needs.

Our decision to focus on the end consumer stemmed from lessons learnt in other key markets across the globe. We looked at a group wide strategy and analysed our positioning in key international markets where Rehau is strong in the minds of consumers. The results of this exercise showed there are significant benefits of focusing on the end consumer and engaging with them early in the process. We identified that an end customer can play an important role in the decision-making process and their involvement in our business was not to be overlooked.

While homeowners are often prepared to invest in better quality products for their homes, they sometimes lack the knowledge to do so. This is where we hope to fill the gap in the market and help the end consumer make that selection process easier and simpler. So, through a multitude of platforms, we are set on educating our end consumers on what colours would fit their homes, which tradesman to work with and what kind of product would best suit their lifestyle.

While most of our communication has been with the trade industry in recent years, we have had some presence with consumers on regional levels, such as Manchester. However, this hasn’t been consistent, and we hope that by engaging with the end consumers on a larger scale we will have a more consistent message across markets nationally and internationally as well. The industry we are operating in is so dynamic – colours, styles and performance levels have all been subject to change in recent years. Amidst these waves of changes, I believe that a consistent messaging will give us massive ROI and is the way of the future. This new end consumer strategy embodies Rehau’s core brand values – innovation, trust and reliability and aligns with our vision to engineer progress. With this new approach to business we are dedicated to enhancing the lives of our customers around the world.

Our new Rio Flush Fit Window is a good example of our current focus on trends and product development with the end consumer in mind. The product is a realistic alternative to traditional timber windows – a growing consumer demand today. Created in a sleek, flush finish that blends in with the exterior structure, the new window offers a realistic timber look and aesthetic feel that has all the benefits of PVC-U, no matter what style of property. The feedback we have got so far is that it is a very attractive window that resonates with consumers, as seen from the market testing, we did pre-launch. While we weren’t the first to introduce Flush to the market, we have combined the best of what is out there together with the product excellence of Rehau to give consumers a superior product. We took our time to study what the consumer really wanted and addressed any issues that were already out there and are extremely happy with the result.

What does truly differentiate our product and makes it appealing to consumers is its weather performance, excelling in wind, air and rain ratings, as well as a choice of 20 colour options including its timber look alike, turner oak and aluminium alternative and anthracite grey colour options. It was very rewarding to be a part of this launch and to give consumers access to such a unique product, unlike any other in the market today. For years I have been asked the question – is Rehau a PVC company or a window company and I strongly believe that Rio answers this question for us. It alludes to the fact we are indeed a strong player as a window company and one that engineers progress for consumers across the country. This product is just the start of several exciting product developments in the future. As we move forward, we aspire to provide a solution to whatever the end consumer wants.