Page 1


30 minutes update


No. 8 Winter 2013/14



Sanitary for

FeinSchmeckers Tobler Acquires Keramikland


ISB: When the going gets tough Win an




Ta ho ke m m e e

How Motivated are Your Colleagues?



Tobias Roser Chief Editor

Speak out Everybody wants a great workplace. We love them. We prosper in them. We perform better too.


Sanitary for the ‘Feinschmecker’ Tobler feat. Keramikland


When the going gets tough




you know where to find the tough with Patrick Headon

How did your colleagues rate your workplace The results of the employee engagement survey 2013

18 20 22

A refreshing Swiss breeze in ÖAG Working two jobs

What keeps you warm this winter? Fittings Quiz


+41 44 735 50 00 +31 88 099 5000

OÄG +43 50406 0 ISB +33 0299856167 Wolseley +44 118 929 8700

ACCORDING to the latest Employee Engagement Survey (EES), we HAVE a great workplace. But just like any other kind of relationship, it needs nurturing and dialogue. If you have issues, you should speak out. The annual EES is the ideal forum where you can express what you think. If everyone participates in the survey, it provides an accurate picture of what needs to be prioritised to make our workplace even better. It is sad to see that the amount of colleagues participating has fallen with a few percent compared to last year. The quality of the workplace, like the quality of a relationship, is a shared responsibility. It’s a part of your job to participate. The survey is not the only possibility you have to speak up. If something is bothering you, if you have issues - or ideas for improvement, I would like to encourage you to talk to your manager or to a HR partner. You can read more about this years results on pages 10 and 15. Which brings me to the next important point. We also want to get your

opinion about Fittings magazine. In general, we get good feedback but we want to learn where we can improve. Therefore we launch a reader survey. If you have a smart phone or iPhone with an app that can scan bar codes - you can enter the survey by scanning the QR code below. An app that will do this trick, is Scanlife (both for Android and Apple). You can download it for free. The next thing you need to do is to open the app and move your phone (scan) over the barcode (QR code) below. Once done, this will get you access to a mobile version of our survey. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can take the survey on line on this address: http:// We’re JA N U looking forward to A 2014 RY hearing from you.


Tobias Roser You can write to Tobias at Feel free to share your ideas and comments – both positive and critical.

Fittings issue 8 · Distributed December 2013 · Fittings is the employee magazine for Wolseley CE staff in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France. Publication by Wolseley CE. Circulation: 3,300. Available languages: English, German, Dutch, Italian and French. Editorial responsibility: Wolseley CE/Tobias Roser. Journalistic production and project management: Radical Communications/Patrick May. Design and layout: Johnsen. Photography: Martijn vd Griendt & Caroline Ablain. Print: CoolGray. Editorial committee: Wolseley CE/Tobias Roser,; OAG/ Christine Scharrer,; ISB/; Wasco/Sacha Büchele,; Tobler/


Who you gonna

Call? YOU

might remember (Fittings winter issue last year) Christoph Zelezo and the other fire fighters from ÖAG’s voluntary fire brigade? In summer this year, when Austria was suffering from massive rainfall, the team assisted to clean up the damage the showers left. The situation was especially critical around the Donau. The riverbeds could not hold all the water and ended up making a tremendous mess. Two thousand soldiers, 1750 fire fighters as well as a small army of volunteers, among them the ÖAG’s company fire brigade cleaned up the ravage.

Fittings 8 · 2013


When the going

Gets Tough


you know where to find the tough

With a dramatic decline in the French construction market – the percentage of new buildings fell 20-30% - there’s no time for ISB to slow down. Our French colleagues are changing their business, on multiple key levels, simultaneously. The changes include a new, corporate team, increased efficiency in sales forecasting and warehousing and decreasing complexity in the product portfolio. All of this, while keeping a strong focus on both customer loyalty and margin.


ur results are improving”, says Pierre Gautron, the rapid speaking MD of ISB. “Mainly thanks to the efforts we do to simplify the business combined with a strong focus


Fittings 8 · 2013

on efficiency. A new key tool to improve efficiency is our forecasting system. The system helps us balancing our inventory, which in turn will help us saving costs”. Francois Maudry, ISB Wood Product’s supply chain man-

Francois Maudry

Business ager, is responsible for the system. “Thanks to the system, we will grow a better understanding of our real time demand for inventory”, he explains.

Reducing inventory “It’s a major improvement compared to how it used to be”, says Francois. “The raw material has to be ordered three months in advance. Traditionally, we simply ordered an average estimation of what we thought we would need. The new forecasting system changes the process. Now our sales people have to provide an estimate of how much they expect they are going to sell in the next three months. All of the sudden, we have real time numbers available and our purchaser can order the raw material with greater precision. The factories delivering the finished material use the system to plan production capacity and other resources more precisely. It helps us managing our inventory in a more efficient fashion and this saves money. So do the S&OP meetings (Sales and Operations Planning) where we balance sales, production and sourcing. Last year only, we reduced inventory by 15%.”

Supporting ambitious sales people “But we only just begun. We update the system consistently with the actual, realized sales figures. As a result the system can compare the estimates from our sales people with historical sales numbers. If there are large deviations, the system will propose a new estimate to the sales manager. It is necessary”, Francois says laughing. “We have ambitious sales people who have a tendency to over estimate what they can sell. For an efficient planning, it is important that our estimates are realistic.” “Our forecasting on our so called high level products, the product categories we prioritize, accuracy is 85-90%. We have divided our products in three categories and the forecasting for the first category, planned products, is in place now. We recently added new product categories, timber and sawed products, to the forecasting system. We expect that we

can increase the accuracy even further and that we will be able to decrease our inventory with another 2 million Euro’s.”

Customers expect us to have their products on stock “Customers prefer to have no inventory at all”, says Francois. “Instead, they expect us to have everything they need on stock. And if they run out, than they rely upon us for ultra fast delivery. That requires that we have everything on stock they need. Last year, we had 65% only. Now we’re up to 80%. We have been able to improve

thanks to centralizing our warehouse function. We centralized our inventory of planned products on a platform between our factories and the regional distribution centers. We have a large distribution center dedicated to for the DIY market. We’re in the process of merging both facilities.” “The new central DC will have around 25 colleagues working here and we expect between 12-15 trucks inbound and about the same outbound. The platform will provide products to the regional DC’s in accordance to what and how much each individual DC should store. The local distribution centers in turn, will pull products, mainly slow movers, from the central warehouse according to customer orders. The objective is to have 90% of

More on next page

Fittings 8 · 2013


es t n e p r a h C

Francaises Branches: 14 Employees: 360 of the € 60 million (17%ss) Turnover: entire ISB busine

Market leader in in trusses

Continued our products on stock. If we manage this, we have increased our service to our customers significantly.”

One size does not fit all Anne Zeller is business manager in Charpentes Francaises, a company in the ISB family. The main focus here is margin. Anne has a clear strategy for how the organization will increase performance. “It’s a two headed strategy”, says Anne. “Looking at our customer mix, we have on the one hand side the large national accounts. These are typically big construction companies who have building projects all over


the country. On the other hand side, we have the small and medium sized customers that operate locally.” “Our focus has been on the national accounts”, Anne explains. “They’re responsible for a large chunk of our turnover. We cannot afford to loose them. So we’ll maintain a strong and solid focus on this segment and continue to develop them. At the same time, we will increase focus on the small and medium customer segment. These customers have different needs. They need support from our design office, more frequent visits from sales people and training. They require a differentiated approach. But in return, they give us a better margin too. We plan to train both our technical units and our commer-

ntiated They require a differern , they approach. But in retu n too. give us a better margi 6

Fittings 8 · 2013

cial teams to become accustomed with the needs and demands of smaller customers. Since their business is mainly local, it’s important that our expertise is available locally in order to develop our turnover.”

Not win business at any price Anne has yet another ace in her sleeve to increase margin. “We will differentiate our approach and price from customer to customer. We treat them individually. To be able to do that, we need to be close to them, especially when it comes to

the local customers. As close as we possibly can. This means hard work for the commercial teams. They will revisit all former quotes and call customers to try to get their business. Not at any price though, we have to control our margin. That is important. We’re about quality and this is also how we should approach our customers. We have developed clear and feasible targets, differentiated by regions. We will take marketshare back from our competitors. We have the tools, we have the competences. The French market might be

Anne Zeller

Business difficult, but it’s not impossible. We can do it.”

Twenty new colleagues Another substantial project ISB managed in the past nine months, is cutting the ties with Wolseley France. This showed to what extent ISB was dependent on the support from Wolseley France. ISB now has to stand on its own legs. “Meaning that we had to build up an entire new corporate division level”, says Anne Galloway, ISB’s HR Director. “We have hired twenty new people, from both in- and outside Wolseley”. “The HR team for example, has shiftet four people, handling pay roll, so employees get their salary in time, and training”, Anne tells. “Finance, logistics, IT - ordering water, maintenance of the trucks and the fork lifts, you name it, we now are responsible for everything ourselves. We found competent people to take that responsibility”.

Taking responsibility “It’s scary and excitingly refreshing at the same time”, says Anne. “If we don’t perform, we have no one but ourselves to blame. The good things is, it’s all in our own hands now. The decision process is a lot faster. We have the full picture of

the situation and can take better informed decisions as well. The key words for ISB are responsibility and accountability”. Anne explains: “We have clear action plans and targets, boiled down to the local branches. But this is only a start. We can make all the plans we want, at the end of the day it’s the local teams that have to take the responsibility for the goals and make them happen.” The fact that local teams have to take charge, is one of the issues discussed during the leadership team meeting in September. “We have gathered 50 managers from the business and we had a three day meeting where we discussed both the business but also spent time working on the team”, says Anne. “There has been a lot more dialogue compared to the other years. We agreed upon a few mutual action points we want to prioritize. For example emphasizing our core values: excellence, ambition and team spirit, but also improving our business through sales related actions. We discussed mu-


tual expectations and, we stressed how important it is to communicate these expectations to the local team. We have to make sure that everybody understands what is expect-

ed from him and her. Everybody has to understand that the team at headquarters supports them, but they cannot do their job for them. We’re a team and we have to act like one.”

An Gallone way

Fittings 8 · 2013


HardTalk with Patrick Headon How is Wolseley CE’s performing? In July we finished the fiscal year 2012/13. This gives us an excellent opportunity to look both back and forward. For an accurate picture of our performance in the past fiscal year, we need to look at he businesses individually.

Tobler’s performance in 2012/2013 Unfortunately, none of the CE businesses has delivered budget. Tobler however, thanks to a massive effort of the team in Switzerland, almost made it. They managed to keep a high level of customer satisfaction and navigate through a tough period with prices being under severe pressure. The team pushed to the limit and with an impressive final sprint - they got the business back on track


Fittings 8 · 2013

and almost made the budget. Something they can be very proud of. And something to learn from this year.

ÖAG’s performance in 2012/2013 ÖAG had a tough year. They underwent a significant reorganization, necessary for the long term survival of the business. There were job losses, which was tough. We do care aboutour people, but we have to keep a balanced business perspective at all times. If we don’t, we might put the entire business to risk. In April, the company got a new MD, Felix Fröhner, coming from Procter and Gamble. Felix committed to an ambitious plan and even though the market in Austria proved to be tougher than we expected, he and his team found a way to deliver 2013 target nonetheless. We believe this will be a habit ÖAG keep in the new fiscal year.


In an enterprise with more than 3,000 employees, the top management may seem very distant. With HardTalk, you get close to top management, because here we put you in contact with CE’s most senior manager. Patrick Headon answers you and your colleagues questions, however searching they are.

Wasco’s performance in 2012/2013

ISB’s performance in 2012/2013

Focus on engagement is necessary

CFM got a new owner

Wasco is operating in one of our toughest markets. We’re not the market leader. Actually, we’re the number three. The team in The Netherlands has made a tremendous effort. They are focusing on the smaller customer segments, which requires that they run harder and deal with more customers. They shifted focus to higher margin products. The result has been a respectable profit margin. Unfortunately, market conditions forced us to look critically at the showrooms here and we decided to close them down. We could not see a sound plan to make them profitable within a reasonable amount of time. I am confident that we have prepared the business for profitability, also in 2013/14, despite a tough market.

ISB had a challenging first six months. The market for new buildings was down 20-30% - a decrease never seen before in the history of French construction. This hit the business hard and the team in France had to fight hard in the second half of the year to get back in control and get all the processes in place. (You can read more about this on page 4-7) The second challenge they faced, was a separation from Wolseley France. They went from depending on Wolseley France for all the supporting functions, to being responsible for everything from HR to IT, from Finances and Control to Marketing and Communications. While at the same time, simplifying the corporate structure.

We have a good engagement score (EES) but we will listen and improve. There are a lot of good ideas. The challenge is not to try to do too much, but do fewer things well and communicate clearly about it. We have good customer satisfaction levels which we are determined to drive forward. Customers pay more for great service. This year we start the year with realistic budgets. In the year to date, we are ahead, which we have not been for some time. We need to focus in particular on gross margin and make sure the whole organization is clear on how we can drive these forward. This is an exciting year. No market is easy. But with your ideas, energy and persistence we will make it a great year.

We recently completed the sale of CFM. The Purchaser, vanMarcke, is the leading sanitary player in Belgium. The two companies fit together well and create a powerfull combination, which is good news for the future of CFM and its employees. The transaction was completed fast, thanks to the commitment of the CFM management team - for which I am very grateful. We wish all CFM employees good luck under the new ownership and thank them for their commitment to the business over the years.


Fittings 8 · 2013


How did your colleagues rate your

workplace? The results of the employee engagement survey 2013 Earlier this year, you were asked to participate in a survey, where you could share your opinion about the quality of your workplace. Most of you did, some of you didn’t. In fact, compared to last year, with the exception of Wasco, the participation level decreased. The average engagement score also declined with a small notch. The good news is that, in spite of this, the overall results are positive. Meaning that in spite of tough times, we’re happy for our working place.


n impressive 93%! of all Wasco employees completed the engagement survey. That is a ten per cent! increase, compared to 2012. “Amazing, isn’t it?”, says Monique Valkenburg-Kok, Wasco’s HR manager, proudly. The secret for Wasco’s success, is a combination of both hard work and management buy in.


Fittings 8 · 2013

Taking input seriously “We used all available channels to communicate with staff”, Monique explains. “Of course during the introduction of the

survey, but we also provided regular updates on how many people already completed the survey - all the way up to the deadline for the survey. We ensured that everybody, also our logistic staff, had on line access

r workWasco’s staff likes theiye ar place better than lasty topic on pretty much ever in the survey

to the survey. In the DC’s, we made computers available, especially for this purpose. We visited the DC’s, to support and motivate the colleagues in logistics to complete the survey. We helped them if they had issues, comments or questions. A crucial driver for our success, is that top management discusses engagement directly with staff when visiting them

Your Workplace

? Engaged employees outperform their disengaged counterparts

during the bi-annual information meetings.” Another important reason for the high participation level, according to Monique, is that employees experience that their opinion is taken seriously. “One of the five main raised flags from last year’s survey, was education, training and knowledge sharing. Therefore we extended our educational program and made changes in our training as well. Product training, for example, is made available for more colleagues. On top of that, instead of offering the training lo-

cally, we invite the participants to Twello. Doing so, we facilitate that they can learn from each other.”

Personal relation strengthens engagement “Colleagues acknowledge that we improved on all topics. That makes me proud.” The Dutch HR Manager has good reasons to be proud of the results: they are excellent. “Our ESI (the accumulated engagement score) score is 80,6, that is a 1,5% improvement. That doesn’t seem like an awful lot. But when your score is high to start with, improving with 1,5% is

Monique ValkenburgKok

Why bother?

Worldwide, companies increasingly acknowledge the link between engagement and business results. According to international studies, engaged employees are up to 50% more productive than their unengaged counterparts. Engaged employees make you stand out from competitors. Companies that score in the top ten of employee engagement, surpass their competition by 72% in earnings per share. Investing in an engaging workplace, from a business perspective, thus makes a lot of sense. The side effect, happy employees, is hard to argue against as well.

truly impressive.” Wasco’s staff likes their workplace better than last year on pretty much every topic in the survey. In fact, Wasco is the ONLY business unit where scores have gone up. “I can of course only speak on behalf of Wasco”, says Monique in an attempt to explain the result. “Wasco is a very special company. Our employees have a personal relation to the company. We have the typical Dutch no-nonsense culture, but at the same time, there’s a feeling of solidarity and belonging. The latter might be due to it’s history of being a family owned business.”

Can we still improve? “The result”, says Monique, “can intimidate me. I can’t help speculat-

ing, how on earth we can improve the results next year. To stay at the current level, or improve, we have to make sure that the reporting process on the survey is structured and integrated in the entire business. Line- and team managers have to take responsibility for the necessary improvements in their departments and teams.” Monique is a big fan of employee engagement. “Engaged employees outperform their disengaged counterparts. This will have an impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Which the business will benefit from.”

Continued on page 15

Fittings 8 · 2013


Sanitary for the

‘Feinschmecke When Tobler earlier this year announced the acquisition of Keramikland – a sanitary company focusing on the creme de la creme of the market – they managed to surprise both friends and competitors.

The company with showrooms in Cham (Zug) and Hutwill (Bern) indicates that the heating specialists from Urdorf are serious about the sanitary market. But who are these sanitary nerds, what do they do and why are they a good match? 12

Fittings 8 · 2013


athing was one of the most common daily activities in Roman culture and was practiced across a wide variety of social classes. Today, we witness clear evidence of this practice being reintroduced both in public spa’s AND increasingly also at home in our private bathrooms. A trend the two founders of Keramikland, Stefan and Benno Kneubühler, by accident stumbled upon.

Reckless and ignorant

“It was certainly not in the cards from the very start”, says Stefan Kneubühler, founder and responsible for Sales. “We bought the tiles and boards company we worked for. We were 20, maybe 21 years old, and with the right amount of juvenile recklessness and ignorance, we were able to convince ourselves that we would make a fortune. The name, Keramikland, is a leftover from the very start in 1990.”

Expansion section for temporary interior design. Here we intuitively understood that there’s a huge market for high end bathrooms.”

Passionate about quality


“It was not the goldmine we expected. The turnaround, came after we visited the fair in Bologna, getting lost in the

A typical Keramikland customer is male or female between 35 and 60, with a medium or high income. They often work in a leading function and have a passion for quality and design in common. Among bankers, a bathroom from Keramikland is somewhat of a must. How did they manage to become a life style brand? “I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. Our philosophy, our team and our products.” “Personally, I think, my ambition level, my passion to create new things and my perseverance also when things are not moving ahead as we’d like - have contributed to our success. What drives me is to enthuse our customers by sharing ideas and finding individually, tailored solutions.”

r oblemikla T nd feat. Kera CEO, Urs Wehrle, is convinced to, with the support of Tobler, stren gthen and where possible increase Keramikl ands’ market position. “Thanks to Tobler, we have increased our salesforce significantly. Together we will evaluate the possibility to increase our presence, initiate additional showrooms. Tobler on the other hand side, will be able to benefit from our exte nsive sanitary assortment as well as our showroom experience. What surprised and impressed me abou t Tobler, is that they, in spite of their size, are managed in a familiar and humane fashion. I was also impresse d by the professional approach during the acquisition as well as the respect they showed for our organization and our work. When assessing Toblers‘ existing sanitary assortment, the Comfort line, it’s obvious that this is aimed at a different customer segment. It speaks anot her language. I think it is important that we test how to position the line in the future, and in what quantity and in which channels the line will be offered. We’d like to support a future rejuvenation of the line. After all, we should be able to benefit from each other.”

Selling sanitary dreams It will not come as a surprise to you that a bathroom from Keramikland has a high end price tag. You’d expect people to save on sanitary in times when money is tight. Yet this has not stopped Keramikland from selling personal spa’s valued

CHF 10.000 and more. “The secret”, Stefan explains, “is that the customers‘ demand is central. We sell individual, seamless solutions. Everything in our showroom,

More on next page

Fittings 8 · 2013


Sanitary Continued can be customized. Our staff is trained to sell dreams. Of course we train them to do so. But equally important is that they believe in the

dream we sell. Therefore I think it is important to encourage them to try the exhibited steam showers,Whirlpools, Hamams etc. We select our products based upon design, high quality

Benno r Kneubühle

Stefan r Kneubühle

How to get

S U C FO away from price

In the showrooms in Keramikland, staff is used to sell dreams. But how do you sell a dream and get the customers’ mind away from the price? Stefan - who personally trains all sales people in Keramikland, has five tips for you: Your showroom requires a sophisticated design. Customers have to see their new bathroom in the showroom.


Your customer must have the possibility to test the products in the showroom and get the full experience.


Sell additional products like for example relevant and beautiful accessories.


4 5


Fittings 8 · 2013

standards and functionality. Roughly 80% of our products we import from Italy. Our products should not only look great, when you touch them, you should experience the quality.”

Offer the customer alternatives. Instead of selling a traditional shower, sell them a steam shower. Seduce your customer with alluring ideas and concepts that inspire them.

An s oasigy of ener

Stefan’s passion for bathrooms is not restricted to his professional life only. “When visiting hotels, I can’t help myself to check the bathroom. I might learn something. Unfortunately, even in the expensive segment, bathrooms more often than not, are build on a tight budget. If you ask me, the total wrong place to save money. Of course!” Stefan’s own bathroom is, as you might expect, totally top notch. “50 square meters of all the imaginable luxury Keramikland has to offer”, the proud founder says grinning. “There’s a customized, natural stone sink, closets with interior lighting and leather, a Well Box steam bath with neck and back massage and color therapy, a sauna with color therapy, heated wooden chairs and a massive amount of indirect lighting - in other words, an oasis of energy. How the bathroom of my dreams looks like? That changes every six months. Whenever there’s new products, I can hardly wait to add them to our assortment. In my head, I can see the room as if I was standing right in it. Every room requires its own personality, it’s own personal solution. There are so many possibilities, with a high level of complexity - I love it.”

Your Workplace

i This is the first year ISB participates - therefore we don’t have any results from 2012 to compare with

Continued from page 11

Survey Participation

Engagement Scores are you?)

(How motivated

80,1 81,1 %


76,4 73,8 % %




83 %

71 63,6


93 %





This year Last year (2012)

80 %



89 72



79 %



38 %







e difference between th d highest score, WASCO, an the lowest score, ISB

The engagement score is the average score of all chosen aspects considered important for engagement, weighed by importance. Meaning that if you score bad at aspects that are considered more important, but good at aspects that are less important, it will influence your average score negatively.

uld loyees wo of ISB emp a s a B d IS recommen ds ce to frien la p g workin d (compare and family n earlier to 44% in a





In 2013, a whopping





more Wasco employees completed the employee engagement survey compared to last year Overall - compared to 2012, this year, less people completed the survey. With ONE positive exception: Wasco. Dutch participation level increased with 10% to an impressive 93%. The secret? Thanks to the efforts of management, our colleagues in The Netherlands acknowledged the importance of sharing their personal opinions about how they feel about their workplace. There are no historical numbers available for ISB, as this is the first year ISB participates.

How motivated are you? Overall, motivation has not changed significantly compared to 2012. Motivation in Wasco increased somewhat, whereas the other business units showed a small decrease.

Continued on next page


Fittings 8 · 2013



How loyal are you? Tobler employees, in spite of a minor drop since last year, are still the most loyal employees in Wolseley Central Europe. In general, loyalty is quite high.

Happiness with a cultural twist


and CFM employees, compared to the other units, are more pessimistic when rating their workplace. Both businesses have been been on a rough ride. Colleagues in Luxembourg experienced a lot of changes both in resources and working processes. Staff in France dealt with an uncertainty concerning their future for a relatively long period of time. According to Anne Galloway, ISB’s HR Director, this has had a negative effect on staff and how they score in the annual engagement survey. But according to Anne, there’s more to it. “I think that, even under normal circumstances, our scores would not equal those of Wasco or Tobler. French people in general have a less positive view upon their job situation. When we compare our scores with other French companies, we’re average.” She might be on to something actually. The UN recently published a ranking of the world’s happiest countries and guess what? Switzerland and The Netherlands came in third and fourth while the French, well, they are stuck on number 25! Austria got a solid 8th place and Luxembourg is the number 19. And if you want to belong to the happiest people in the world, you would have to move to Denmark.


Fittings 8 · 2013

Cold feet or not — here I am

Toblers’ staff rate their workplace positively. The ESI, the accumulated engagement score, might have gone down with 1,8% compared to last year, but it is still at an impressive 76%. Tobler, after last years’ survey, has initiated a number of improvement projects. One of them: the induction of new employees. New employees like the 25 year old Manuela Adrienne Bolliger who started in marketing in January of this year.

Ivan Widmer Manuela Adrienne Bolliger

Your Workplace


anuela before applying for a job in Tobler, did an apprenticeship at Swisscom, a telecom company, and held a job in the marketing department of a bank. “When I saw Toblers’ job add on the Internet, I thought this is my chance. The function, marketing co-ordinator, and the content of the job, appealed to me. As did the company profile. So I applied and ... I got the job.” She had to wait a couple of weeks before she could start, and got cold feet. “I revisited the job add and the Internet site. And of course, typically me, I started doubting whether this was the place for me.”

The first 100 days According to the original planning, Manuela was scheduled for a Tobler introduction day in January. “One day after my first day on the job. Unfortunately, I had to reschedule and postpone my induction until April. As far as I can remember, we were around twenty new people, a few women, most-

ly men. From different parts of the country, different departments and functions. We started early in the morning with presentations about the business, the different functions and departments and products. Actually, this was the first time I saw Toblers’ products in real life. How funny is that?”, Manuela says laughing. “You get a lot of useful information but you need to digest it in a relatively short amount of time. It was very interesting. A colleague did a presentation about his first 100 days on the job and how to make them a success. He shared his experiences and the challenges he bumped into. We finished the introduction with an informal lunch at noon. The department leaders joined us for lunch, which gave us the opportunity to have one on ones - and ask questions.”

Tobler welcomes new ideas “I got a real good impression of Tobler”, says Manuela. “I would have liked to hear a little bit more about Wolseley though. How the relation is, how that is working and to what extend we are depending on them. It would also have been nice to combine the presentations with team exercises. I don’t really know how that exactly should look like but, you know, something that would loosen up the atmosphere and help us getting to know each other better. Apart from that, I really enjoyed the introduction. It was well organized and I had the feeling that the other participants also liked it.” “The cold feet are long gone. I have a great boss, Ivan. You know, in my last job, I had a boss where nothing was possible. He

didn’t like changes. The default answer to all ideas was ‘no’. I don’t want that kind of job. I want to have the feeling that I can make a difference. That I am appreciated, and my ideas and thoughts are being considered. The culture in Tobler is so much different. People are open to new ideas. You have to argue for them, true, but if you come with the right arguments, you get a shot at them.” “Right now I am working on the corporate wording manual. I discussed with my boss that our external communication would benefit if we’d be more consistent. He told me to go for it, that would never have happened in my former job. I feel appreciated here. I actually recommended one of my good friends to come and work here too.”

I want to have the feeling that I can make a difference. That I am appreciated, and my ideas and thoughts are being considered.

Fittings 8 · 2013


A refreshing

Swiss Breeze in ÖAG

Olivier Kurt

Most people would probably feel a little schizophrenic working two jobs at the same time. It would not exactly help either if one job was in Austria, being the boss of a department, and the other job in Switzerland, working in the sister department but as a functional specialist. Nevertheless, this is what Olivier Kurt has voluntarily accepted to do. Why would he want to do that?


livier Kurt, HR partner in Tobler, is stationed in Urdorf. Earlier this year, he divided his attention between Urdorf and Vienna, taking on the job as interim HR director for ÖAG. “The daily leader for the HR team in Austria, Lukas Schreiner, was involved in an urgent project that demanded his full attention. As a result, there was an opportunity to fill in his position for three months, from March to May”, Olivier explains. “An opportunity I could not refuse”.

Hands tied due to legislation “The team in Austria gave me a warm welcome”,


Fittings 8 · 2013


Olivier says. “They turned my time here into a fantastic experience. We share the same HR background and working for the same group, we share the same values too. But Austrian labour law is different compared to Swiss legislation. Here I relied heavily on Lukas’ team. I was a bit surprised by Austrian legislation. I experienced it to be somewhat more restrictive than what I am used to in Switzerland. My Austrian colleagues have so many excellent ideas, but they often have to go the extra mile and consider so many constraints rather than just doing it.”

Cross pollinating good ideas “That didn’t keep me from bringing the good ideas to Tobler and see what we can do with them in Switzerland, where the laws are different”, Olivier tells. “Cross pollinating good ideas is one of the main advantages of job exchanges

between different businesses.” An example of a good idea exchange are the induction days. ÖAG and Tobler have different approaches. “Based upon Olivier’s observations, we decided to reduce the duration and the frequency of the introduction days to welcome new colleagues”, says Elisabeth Illy, responsible for people development and recruitment in ÖAG. “The changes we made, represent a saving in both time and money.” Olivier: “Inspired by the process in ÖAG, I discussed the induction days with my colleagues in Tobler and we decided to make some changes.”

Olivier took good care of my team Lukas Schreiner is

very happy with the way things turned out. “Wolseley encourages job rotations. The benefits in terms of learnings are significant. I was a bit hesitant to start with. Hand over the responsibility for my team, is a big decision. Olivier’s boss, Michael Engeler, whom I know well and whose judgement I trust, recommended Olivier warmly. The entire project worked out great for all parties involved. My team was very positive about working together with Olivier. It’s like opening the windows and let a breeze of fresh air enter. Olivier did a great job in ÖAG. Based upon the experiences we have now, we are confident that we will plan more swaps, also in other departments.”

My boss can sleep safe

ark Vienna prater p

“It was the first time I was in charge of a larger team (7 people)”, says Olivier. “It was like getting a temporary promotion. Before I started I promised myself to be authentic. I agreed with Lukas on the tasks and priorities, but at the same time negotiated that I was allowed to make

changes, or at least raise an issue, if I saw room for improvement. It was a great way to get hands on experience leading. I fell, I could take charge, and move things forward. This experience has contributed to my ambition level. I’m not out to get my boss’s job”, Olivier says laughing, “but I do hope there will be new challenges on my career path where I can use the experiences I just got.”

When the Swiss meet the Austrians Elisabeth enjoyed working with Olivier. A lot. “On a professional level, his HR competencies shine through whatever he does. We could always come to him for advice and sparring. It was a lot of fun too. Also because there are tiny differences in culture and language. We both speak German but Olivier managed to surprise us more than once with words we simply did not know.” “I have experienced the Austrians to be more ... discrete, more polite, more formal maybe”, says Olivier. “They don’t openly utter criticism, as we would do in Switzerland.” Elisabeth: “We took Oliver to a restaurant called ‘Schweizerhaus’ in the Wiener Prater on his last evening in Vienna. All the differences in spite, he enjoys Wiener Schnitzel and drinking beers, just like we Austrians do.”

Fittings 8 · 2013


What u keeps yo


Warm r e t n i W


Your girl/boy friend Eric van den Berg, purchaser in Wasco, is hoping for a cold winter. “Temperatures below minus five are excellent for business. It makes the revenue boom. Besides, I like ice skating.” New exciting products that will boom this winter, we should not expect. At least not in The Netherlands. “We’re a real gas country. It’s boilers - everywhere you look.” Selling related products to compensate for cheap boilers “The market for alternative heating solutions is small”, Eric says. “Last year, on a national level, 425.000 boilers were sold, compared to 4.000 heating pumps. It’s not because people are uninterested, but we’re talking about rather large investments. The government, if you ask me, is not helping. We hope this situation will change at some point in time.” The market for boilers in The Netherlands is competitive. “There are many places where you can buy your boiler. Price is an issue. We make lit-


Fittings 8 · 2013

tle money on selling boilers. What is more interesting, is to sell related products. That is why, when you visit our website and you’re looking for a boiler, you immediately can see products that fit this particular boiler. Installers are very happy for this service, because they’re guaranteed that all parts are compatible.”

Spare parts is where the money is “The added value for Wasco, is in spare parts”, Eric says. “Here we are one out of two big players on the market and that gives us a far better position when pricing our products. When the heating doesn’t work, peo-

ple are literally out in the cold. They need whatever needs fixing, fixed now. That we have the parts that are needed to fix the problem in our inventory, is far more important than the price.” “My boss thinks the winter is going to be cold”, Eric says. “My experience is that warm summers are often succeeded by rather warm winters as well. We had a great summer in The Netherlands. I hope though

that I am wrong and he’s right. What will keep you warm this winter? I advice you to get a girlfriend.”

Eric van den Berg



service organisation “Heating pumps are popular around here”, says Thomas Mohler, Service Manager in Tobler. “They’re installed in approximately 80% of all new buildings. The picture is somewhat different for renovations. It’s a cost issue. Traditional oil and gas installations are cheaper than heating pumps. The balance might tip though once we see more cheap heating pumps on the market.” Nobody wants to freeze at home Thomas, together with about 200 colleagues, is part of Toblers’ service organisation. “Our number is one of the most important telephone numbers in the winter”, Thomas says jokingly. “When their installation fails, we jump in our cars to fix the problem. A lot of customers have service contracts with us. We check their installation periodically, which in turn gives our customers peace of mind when the winter comes. If, god forbid, anything

goes wrong anyways, we’ll be on their door step as soon as possible. The same goes for people who don’t have a service contract with Tobler.” “A good winter business wise”, Thomas explains, “depends on where you are in the organisation. A very cold winter is good for us. It means a lot of work. And people who sit in the cold, don’t argue too much about the costs. They want their installation up and running as fast as possible. But when it’s very cold, construction ac-

tivities stop, which is not good for sales. A good winter for me personal, is a moderate winter with a lot of snow. I love to stand on skis”.

Better isolation sets bar for installations Thomas has been with the company for 22 years. A lot has happened, both in relation to products and customer mentality. “Products have become more complex. New houses are better isolated than ever before. But to get the most out

Thomas Mohler

of your isolation, your installation must be precise and accurate. This goes for both traditional and alternative systems. It requires more expertise also both from colleagues in sales and service, and from the installer. End users nowadays, thanks to the Internet, are better informed. They know what they want and they are more demanding.” “The prognoses for this winter”, Thomas tells, “point in the direction of a mild winter. But let’s see about that. Forecasts have been wrong before.”

Fittings 8 · 2013


ner of a ISB. Con The win ence Sinbila, from Ag

Win an


5 1

How many

boilers did Wasco sell in 2012?

A 425.000 B 40.000


What’s the

name of the prestigious sanitary business Tobler acquired?

A Feinschmecker Paradies

C 580.000

B Spa & Co C Keramikland



What has been

the level of participation in the engagement survey?

A Lower than 2012 except for Wasco

How well are you informed about what is going on in CE?

Answer the questions below and win an iPhone 5s!


Why do we care

about engagement?

A An engaged workforce is a more productive

B Higher than 2012

B Engaged employees make less mistakes

C Lower than 2012 except for ÖAG

C Engaged employees deliver better customer service

except for Wasco


What are the

keywords for ISB for this fiscal year?

A Responsibility and loyalty B Responsibility and accountability C Responsibility and growth

Send your answers before January 10th 2014 Use the coupon below or send your answers by e-mail to: The winner will be announced in the next issue of Fittings.

A 1: 2: 3: 4: 5:



Name: Address: Postcode and City: Country: Phone: E-mail: Employed at:

Send this coupon to: Wolseley Central Europe Attn Tobias Roser 2nd Floor, Steinackerstrasse 10 CH-8902 Urdorf Switzerland


er Jocelyne Rencso.guillé, n n i w o e T he n iPhon gratulati

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The word from the editor

Who you gonna call (ÖAG’s fire brigade)

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Swiss Breeze – Tobler’s Olivier working in Austria

Cold Feet – a new colleague in marketing in Tobler

Please identify the ways in which Fittings strengthens your connection to the company: (check all that apply) It shows that I’m a part of a team It shows me that my management cares about the employees It reminds me that I have a great working place It supports my understanding of business decisions that are being made It provides useful information about what is going on in our business It inspires me Other, please specify:


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Fittings 08  

Fittings is Wolseley's CE employee magazine, published three times a year, and read by staff in Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Fr...

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