The driver of change11 November 2020
The new Executive Vice President (EMEA) of Haldex, Stephan Kulle, has been in post since 1st January 2020 and has recently launched the company’s new corporate strategy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Its aim is to redefine Haldex’s relationship with the market. Here he presents his plans and vision in more detail.
Q: What is the current market position of Haldex?
Stephan Kulle (SK): “As the third largest company in the field in Europe, we are well placed for the future.
“We have a clear growth potential in the truck segment which gives me great confidence in the future. In the aftermarket we are currently in a very strong position to further increase our share in the premium and value segments. Currently our strengths lie particularly in the trailer and axle market where we benefit from our product portfolio.”
Q: What are the brand’s strengths and weaknesses?
SK: “We are market leaders in the field of the S-ABA automatic brake adjuster. This is of course a product which was designed for drum brakes and has a diminishing market share in Europe. We are already supplying the trailer market with large numbers of our air disc brake. By 2019 we had already delivered more than 2 million disc brakes to the trailer market. This shows our capability for industrialising large-volume products. We will shortly press ahead with augmenting our current product portfolio with innovative products responding to trends in the industry in the fields of e-mobility, autonomous and networked vehicles. We intend to extend our current position in the truck segment with these advanced products and so be seen as a leader in innovation.
“A further target for 2025 is to be a full system supplier to the trailer sector. This means delivering not only a pure electronic braking system (EBS) but also adding additional functionalities such as for example telematics, camera solutions or sensor technology. This is an important development for the future.”
Q: Why is that?
SK: “When I started in the motor industry [more than 20 years ago], the supply chain of private car manufacturers – and also of truck manufacturers – was very deep; now they have given up much of that so that the suppliers are now required to take this over. We are not as financially robust as our competitors, but naturally are now open to partnerships. For our clients we are a development partner and not just a supplier. We set high store on working closely with our clients to develop common solutions. We always listen carefully to our customers’ requirements, and do our best to find solutions for their problems.
“This is also expressed in our current marketing slogan: Haldex ‘Open for progress’. This means that we can and will react flexibly and promptly to changes. With us you have the right partner at your side. Take for example our new modular EB+ 4.0 brake technology: thanks to the open system and software architecture, we can respond directly to our clients’ requirements, and that completely sets us apart from our competitors.
“This naturally also means that we are open to innovation in collaboration with our customers, and we want to be pioneers here too. One of the main objectives of our new strategy is to shape the future of transportation in Europe with two new technologies: firstly, with the Fast Acting Brake Valve (FABV) and secondly with the electromechanical brake (EMB). We are collaborating on the development of these two technologies with leading commercial vehicle partners, to make road transport even safer in future. Further, we want to boost our position in the air disc brakes field so as to be a global champion in this area by 2025.
“Our strategy is naturally not only to develop new solutions, but also to optimise what is already available, and that often involves decisions on what we should no longer be doing in the future. For example: removing unprofitable products from our product portfolio or rationalising our manufacturing sites, e.g. transferring the manufacture of our brake cylinders out of Europe to India.
“Last but not least, the independent aftermarket is an extraordinarily important mainstay of our business. For one thing we intend to more strongly position our premium segment in the area of Fleets. We have already taken the first steps in this direction. A further important point is the value segment: here we intend to promote our Grau brand, which was taken over by Haldex in 1998, in the field of air brakes and components. We plan to further increase our market share in Europe with the Grau brand.”
Q: Why have you pitched your strategy so far in the future?
SK: “If you want to become a leader in innovation in the field of highly developed components, you must start straight away in building partnerships with the most important original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This is valid starting from 2025 and is also a strategy for 2030.”
Q: What else have you done since you started in this job?
SK: “During my first weeks in the job I travelled to Weyersheim [France, European headquarters of Haldex], where I had a very successful onboarding, got to know many colleagues and had many frank discussions. Personally I rate open communication extremely highly. I come from a region in Germany where people appreciate openness. I also expect openness from my colleagues at Haldex. I highly appreciate this characteristic in others. Colleagues at every level should not be afraid to come directly to me. Only through material and constructive communication can one make personal improvement and avoid misunderstandings in good time.
“We have an excellent team in Europe. During these challenging times this year we have worked together very efficiently and been able to introduce some important changes. Of course I must say as a salesperson as I am looking forward to meeting our clients on the spot again.
“A final personal comment. My family and I love Sweden and have regularly spent our holidays there in past years. In terms of relationships and behaviour I rate the Swedish mentality very highly. Some of my friends there told me some time ago that they thought Haldex was the right company for me and that I should apply to Haldex. But I never did anything about this until Haldex came to me. Now I am delighted to be here and look forward to an exciting and successful future.”