Published On: Mon, Jan 5th, 2015

Stefan Seidel, Managing Director, Profine UK

First Job: Marketing assistant at a German bank in the early 90s.

When did you join or set up current company: I joined KBE Window Systems in 1996, which over time became part of HT Troplast and eventually in 2003, part of the Profine Group. I moved to the UK in 1999 and in January this year, I became Managing Director of Profine UK.

Most useful/favourite gadget: My only one: Samsung Galaxy S4, does its job, favourite function being the “silent” button.

Favourite/most useful website: It has to be Google, don’t even remember what I did without it!

Business person you admire: In the UK, I can’t really decide between Sir James Dyson or Sir Richard Branson. Both are inspiring for different reasons but have one thing in common: they know what their customers want even before they do themselves.

Recommended hotel for business: As long as there’s a good bar and nice company, I don’t mind!

Favourite UK restaurant: My own kitchen.

Advice for surviving the recession: Keep a cool head, seize opportunities however small and spend your cash wisely.

Other interests: Bayern Munich and Formula 1 racing – c’mon Lewis!

Working Day: Normally I get up about 6 am and try to get an hour in at the gym (not always successfully). Working for a German-based international group involves – unfortunately and inexplicably – a slightly different time zone which means calls and e-mails come flowing in from the word go. After that, my first port of call is our financial controller to sort out any financial issues and then I move on to look at other aspects within the business. All I really care about is that we give our customers opportunities to grow and be successful profitably, so the whole working day is geared around how to deliver the best service, involving operational meetings as well as numerous one-to-one meetings with our sales force, who I believe are the best in the industry, reflecting our premium brand. Of course, long working days come part and parcel with the job, however, I do try to make room for spending time with my 8-year old daughter.

Working Location: Our UK distribution centre and Head Office is situated in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Most essential staff are based there, so we can set up meetings on short notice without too much travelling involved. Being part of a large group obviously involves numerous visits to HQ in Germany, but we are trying to rein that in to some degree using online meetings with typical German efficiency. This year has been a bit manic with extensive planning and forecasting for the group, but hopefully from 2015 I will be able to go out and about to see customers more often.


Stefan Seidel-2014Trading over the last 12 months has been extremely positive with significant growth through both new and existing customers. Our key decisions during the recession, namely investing in new systems and focusing on our lead brand Kömmerling, are clearly paying off now and going forward. Also, our cost efficiency and streamlining measures implemented during the difficult years are allowing us to channel funds to support our customers both directly and indirectly. We are strongly poised for further growth in the years to come, aided by UK specific product developments as well as identifying opportunities of new products to be launched by the Profine Group internationally. This year’s highly successful Fensterbau exhibition has proven that profine does not shy away from large-scale investment into innovative products which we will look to adopt in the UK from 2015 and onwards.

Whilst Kömmerling has traditionally been very strong in the home improvement sector with a highly regarded trade fabricator network, we are now starting to make significant inroads into the commercial sector as well as in new-build. Products such as our newly launched C70 and O70 Gold® AluStar are perfect for these market sectors, offering a combination of an aluminium exterior with an energy efficient PVC-U body.

Market outlook

Whilst there is a degree of uncertainty with regards to when and by how much interest rates will begin to rise and what the consequences would be for consumer spending and housing activities, we are confident that the Bank of England will act sensibly not to endanger the recovery. Indeed, in recent days mortgage lenders have reduced their fixed rates, a clear indication yet that any increases will be deferred until 2016 at the earliest. The current backlog in housing and the added pressure of the rise in population should bode well for our industry in the next 5 years or more as the house building sector returns to post-recession levels.

Product development

In order to be successful in any market, you have to be up to date or even ahead of the game with regards to your product range. The Profine Group is always looking for tomorrow’s product today and all relevant departments are continuously encouraged to think outside the box when it comes to future opportunities. While I do believe that our bread and butter 70mm systems are still viable offerings for the foreseeable future, I am convinced that tightening legal requirements with regards to energy efficiency and other trends like high-end self build will have to cause a re-think. Kömmerling as a brand is the perfect vehicle for innovative products and new complementary additions to suit these inevitable market trends and forces. We are looking at introducing Profine’s new 76mm system in the next few years as a core product, which is packed with features from chambered frame legs to centre seals. In the meantime, we are working on refining and enhancing our existing systems with an even larger colour offering and a new innovative cill solution. We also have some really exciting and pioneering developments to come early in 2015 with our PremiLine patio door.

Putting the customer first

Even the best product range in the world will do nothing without customers who are willing and able to promote it. Kömmerling has never been chasing volumes by offering silly deals and short-term wins which result in gaining it at one end and losing it at the other, with the undesirable side effect that there are not enough funds to invest. We are much rather looking for long-term partners with whom we work together to identify opportunities to our mutual benefit and this shows with the incredible loyalty we have with our customers.

We are convinced that by offering superior product quality and flexible service, we are supporting our customers much more than by selling at cheap prices. During the design of our 70mm systems, the question was asked whether we should ‘down-engineer’ the product by taking cost out, however, we believed this would have damaged Kömmerling’s reputation and compromised both performance and quality. By sticking to our tradition of only offering the best, we have been rewarded with our customers’ success and very positive feedback. Our customer base is extremely diverse, from the proverbial one man band to the very large trade fabricator. Yet they all have one thing in common; they are extremely proud to be a quality window manufacturer and installer and similarly we are proud to be their supplier.

On a personal note Over the years (especially during the dire ones), I was offered ‘new challenges’ on numerous occasions, be it in the UK or abroad. In reality, there was never a moment where I did not want to be involved in, as it now turned out, the very positive development of the company in the UK. We are a relatively small team and each member is very passionate about the business. You do not find it very often that each member of staff knows the name of every customer and I’m being asked constantly as to how the customers are doing. Due to the fact that most of the team have been through thick and thin for such a long time, there is now some family feel about it and I’m very proud to be the head coach.

Tel: 01543 444900