Spirax Sarco: Steam Properties & Competitive Landscape

Former General Manager at Spirax Sarco

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Executive Bio

Thomas Hvitved

Former General Manager at Spirax Sarco

Thomas is the Former GM for Central and Eastern Europe at Spirax Sarco, responsible for the steam side of the business across countries such as Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe. Prior to Spirax, Thomas ran Britain and the Nordics for FOSS, a food safety company.Read more

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Interview Transcript

Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

Thomas, can you provide a short introduction to your role and responsibilities whilst you were at Spirax?

I worked with Spirax for about four and a half years. I started off as the regional manager for the Nordic area which comprises Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. After approximately two years, I moved to the role of regional manager for Central and Eastern Europe. That covered Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Russia, from a sales and local management side. At that time, the local companies had responsibilities for sales and service as well as local manufacturing. It was a full P&L responsibility, within the region.

How was that team structured between manufacturing and sales, across Europe?

The Nordic business does not have any manufacturing; it is strictly sales, servicing, support and warehouses. The German business has some production, which is mostly assembly type production, putting modules together and fulfilling projects. There is also some welding and other hardcore production. It is not on a huge scale but it serves the local market, in terms of these special projects.

Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland do not have any manufacturing. Again, it is warehousing and a bit of testing and adjustment.

Is there a sales office in those regions, as well?

Yes; sales, service and, again, it is set up as a profit center. Every local company is set up as a profit center and, essentially, is purchasing goods from the manufacturing sites, at a given price.

Do they have a certain profit target, per year, that they have to meet, on average?

Yes; from a profitability perspective, in Europe, for many years, we were targeting 20%. I would say, most businesses in the Nordics and Eastern Europe were above 20% in terms of profitability. Germany was lacking a little bit but, in the end – and I think still – was above 20% EBIT margin. Of course, that target is moving and every year it has to be higher.

How does Spirax balance the culture of high engineering and sales?

It is technical sales and consultative selling. In order to sell the Spirax products, there are some requirements that the sales person also has the technical knowledge and will be able to help the customer and explain to them the functionality and efficiency of the products. It does require an amount of engineering skills. This particularly applies when you want to sell larger projects as you need to go into a dialogue, with the customer, about requirements and how it can be set up in terms of Spirax solutions.

However, there is a second line of some real experts, some of them located in the center and others situated locally. They can support the sales people, in terms of specific areas. There is some engineering knowledge in the front line, the sales people, but also, to support some very specialized solutions, you have additional second line expertise.

How does Spirax attract the best engineers to drive sales?

I think there is a lot of emphasis on recruiting. Traditionally, the field of steam has been a special branch of engineering and candidates who have knowledge within that area have always looked at Spirax as a good place to work, and I think it still is. As that branch of engineering is becoming diffused a little bit, Spirax has to put more emphasis on the HR and recruitment process.

What do you mean by becoming diffused?

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Spirax Sarco: Steam Properties & Competitive Landscape(July 14, 2022)

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