We talk to Ingo Meitinger, Sales Manager for Formwork Products at Pfeifer, about the stability of his product segment.
Pfeifer shuttering panels and formwork beams enjoy an excellent reputation in the construction industry. Why is that?
We were among the first companies to produce shuttering panels and formwork beams. In addition, we stand out from other manufacturers due to our complete range of products (large format shuttering panels, 21 mm shuttering panels with and without edge protection (E and C profile), as well as 27 mm shuttering panels and our fast delivery capability. We always keep standard formats in stock and can therefore deliver within 24 hours.
And what about the formwork beams?
Pfeifer is one of the few manufacturers to offer the option of supplying its formwork beams with or without a cap. This is a great advantage, especially in countries that consider plastic and synthetic materials to be problematic. Another special feature: We can produce formwork beams with a length of 11.9 m and thus guarantee our customers optimum utilisation for container shipments.
Who are your customers?
We supply shuttering panels to the building material trade. We have set up our sales concept in such a way that we serve everyone equally well, from wholesalers to private customers who only buy 1/3 of a load. We also supply formwork beams to the building materials trade, but internationally mainly to formwork manufacturers who lack the component of formwork beams for their own formwork system.
How do you perceive the development of prefabricated concrete elements?
There are certainly countries that are influenced by it. In Germany, for example, shuttering panels have been somewhat displaced by the use of prefabricated concrete elements in the last 10 years. Countries like Italy, Switzerland or Austria, however, will always use shuttering panels due to their tradition. Many other countries still lack the know-how to use prefabricated concrete elements. So there will always be a need for our shuttering panels as a “simple product” for smaller, but also larger projects. In addition, new markets are constantly being added, such as India a few years ago. There, the required knowledge is only being built right now. With our formwork beams and shuttering panels, such countries are just now entering concreting work. It is possible that they will use formwork elements later on, but that is always the last step. Many manufacturers need formwork beams as a component anyway.
How important is innovation for you?
We at Pfeifer are constantly thinking about the competitiveness of our products. During the last few years, we have conducted tests for even lighter shuttering panels and generally increased their quality even further. The quality we offer fully meets the requirements of the segment we operate in.
Your sales success is directly connected to the construction industry’s economic situation. What’s your take on the current situation?
It’s exciting! At peak times before the crises, we supplied formwork beams to 90 countries, which then dropped briefly to 30, and now we again serve 75 countries. We will then benefit once again from our customers’ recovery and the market access. In short: There is always an opportunity to sell our products. Thank goodness we are not so badly affected by the shortage of skilled workers in our sector. And we can also score points in ecological terms with our environmentally friendly timber products.
What future challenges for the formwork industry do you foresee?
There are many interesting developments such as 3D printers. I think the future is a stable one for our products. Some countries that have stopped using them due to Covid-19, war and crises, will come back and will have a lot of work to do. Considering that formwork beams last about 6 - 7 years and have been rented out over and over again by companies in recent years to save money, demand will soon be high. At some point, the companies will have to invest again.