Interview with Michel Eberlein, Senior Sales Manager
What is your role at Incorez?
As the Senior Sales Manager based in Paris, I develop and maintain our distributor and customer relationships across France, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Spain and the Benelux region. It’s important that I concentrate my efforts on helping our commercial partners be as technically knowledgeable as possible so they can focus on finding the right customer for our products. Ultimately, my assistance makes it easier for them to sell Incorez products and our brand more attractive while the strength of our technical support ensures we stand out from the competition.
What’s your background prior to Incorez?
Before joining Incorez in 2014, I was working for our distributor in France where I sold Incorez products alongside other chemicals. It’s when I met John Peel and Charles Lynch, our Commercial Manager. I was previously a chemical engineer and a project leader in research tax credit. With a PhD in materials, I am able to understand how this type of chemistry works and any issues a customer might have.
What sectors do you sell into?
Our Incozol® additives are principally used across high performance waterproofing applications while our epoxy hardener systems are mostly flooring. When it comes to industrial coatings used across aerospace and automotive, customers are always asking for a better product and have very specific requirements. This is when our custom chemistry approach is particularly useful and why we firmly believe that one solution does not fit all applications. It’s critical that we know the technical advantages of each product and how it will suit the application and sector targeted.
Which products are you most excited about?
Polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) are where our innovative custom chemistry approach is most appropriate, and it is especially the case with industrial coatings. Car and aircraft manufacturers want to innovate all the time with a new product and there is a new improvement coming out every few years. This is not necessarily the case across the construction sector.
How important is a culture of innovation within the chemicals industry?
Our laboratory will modify products to meet the needs of the customers. As I said, the industrial coatings sector is often motivated towards a better product, while in construction it’s more about longer warranties so a product is less likely to change as frequently. There is also a strong trend to move away from solvent-based towards water-based products. Some competitor companies will have 20 or 30 products, with an approach which is very much ‘one size fits all’. We are different and constantly innovating in order to create new customised products that meet our customer’s requirements. When we do visits with a member of the Incorez technical team, our customers are surprised to find they are dealing directly with the person who developed the product in the first place. With other suppliers, this would not be the case. It’s why our customers believe we are the right partner for them.
What are some of the biggest challenges within your role?
I often become a point of contact between the customer’s technical team and our own technical R & D people. The aim is to find a solution that works for everyone. We have to develop a product both technically and commercially viable, before we move on. I also have to make our product range attractive for the local distribution team and ensure they are confident in selling to different markets.
What changes have you seen in the chemicals industry over the years?
There is no middle market anymore. We have either low cost imports from China, for instance, along with standard product from major companies or premium products. Customers do understand they have to pay more for a premium product, but alongside that they also expect a customer-centric approach. Technology and social media platforms, in particular, have also changed the way many businesses build relationships with new and existing
"We are different and constantly innovating in order to create new customised products that meet our customer’s requirements." Michel Eberlein, Senior Business Development Manager