Dominique Bossan, Knauf Insulation’s new leader, discusses market challenges, the importance of sustainability, the future of renovation and investing in new capacity.
Dominique Bossan, a Member of the Knauf Group Management Committee, took over as head of Knauf Insulation Europe/Middle East/Asia in 2021.
For the past four years, Dominique was a member of the Knauf Group Management Committee, responsible for the Gypsum’s region of Western Europe, South America and Israel.
Prior to this role, he was Regional Managing Director for Eastern Europe, a position he took up two years after joining Knauf Insulation in 2003.
What is your vision for the company?
Business-wise, I want to make sure we have the right investment strategy long-term, giving ourselves the means to our growth ambition. I want to make our talents more visible,build on our people’s strengths, and enable them to be ambitious. Growing leadership skills and working together in the same direction as a team will participate in making us more customer centric. With sustainability always on our mind, as the public, political and regulatory agendas are accelerating faster than ever.
What plans are there to increase capacity?
Giving ourselves the means to our growth ambitions means optimising our existing industrial footprint, but also investing in new capacities and new greenfields. The outlook for our sector is very positive, fueled by strong demand for energy efficient products like ours. We will be making major announcements shortly.
What role does innovation play at Knauf Insulation?
It is central to the company if we are to stay ahead of the game. Innovation goes beyond just research and development. We have hungry competitors that are forcing us to continuously improve, to show leadership when it comes to our technology, our systems, and our products. Our ECOSE Technology® certainly was a game changer for our industry, more than 10 years ago, but innovation goes beyond this type of fundamental research and discovery.
In what ways?
Being more anthropological in our approach to construction sites, more systematically observing the installers and other actors in the market, will help us find ways to help them, and bring them valuable solutions, to make their work easier. Setting up training centres, systematically working with technical schools, improving our employer brand are all ways to help tackle the shortage of skilled labour our industry is experiencing currently. Thinking outside the box will help us come up with more sustainable solutions and innovations, with better products and services. And this is how we will be able to differentiate ourselves from our competition. Let us think outside of the box, with customers always in mind, to make it easy for them to do business with us. This will make it harder for disruptive players to come in and impose a new game.
Digital plays a major role in that disruption.
Of course. We are lucky at Knauf to have very strong traditional — analog — relationships with many of our customers. This is one of our great strengths. But our customers are asking for more digital tools, for ways to make their experience with us a more seamless one. And it is critical that we work on offering the market the digital tools, the platforms that will make it easy for them to interface with us in a more digital manner.
Knauf Insulation is committed to Putting People First as part of its For A Better World sustainability strategy. What does this mean?
Our people are our greatest asset. And it starts with safety. How can we claim that we care about people if we do not care about safety? We have achieved a great deal when it comes to safety, but we still have a lot to do in terms of creating a very strong safety culture. In addition, promoting a more diverse, more inclusive workplace, will inevitably turn into more engagement from our people, and more positive thinking. So many studies have shown the power that lies in fostering such an environment. We are implementing innovative programmes to further develop, train and engage our people. I want people to feel good, to feel right, and give their best.
Knauf Insulation is also committed to zero carbon. What plans are underway to achieve this?
Economically, environmentally, morally, we need to decarbonise our manufacturing processes and our logistics, and we have to do it by 2050. This is a long-term effort that will require significant investments over the next three decades, balancing carefully parameters that are not all under our control, like the availability of green electricity and biogases, the carbon emissions’ price, waste treatment costs, and the upgrades of our plants. Our focus must be future proof, on developing and piloting the required new manufacturing technologies in the reasonably short-term. In parallel, each manufacturing site will be developing its own carbon reduction roadmap, taking into account the local constraints and opportunities, and targeting zero carbon in the long run. In addition, we are committed to a 15% reduction of the embodied carbon in our products by 2025 — the carbon generated at every stage of their life cycle from the cradle to the grave. This is an ambitious mid-term goal that reflects the urgency of the carbon transition and will keep our teams focused on continuous improvements in every area, from sourcing recycled materials and cutting carbon in our plants, to the transportation we use for deliveries.
What do you see as Knauf Insulation’s role in renovation?
An initiative such as the European Union’s commitment to renovate 35 million buildings by 2030 is very ambitious. However, in the past, large-scale initiatives in some countries did not deliver on the expected promises, because of poor workmanship, and because the energy and emissions savings were never quantified and verified. We believe we can change this.
Knauf Energy Solutions (KES) demonstrates that a closed system can work if you control every aspect of a renovation. KES guarantees good workmanship, efficient solutions, quality assurance at every single stage and, most importantly, can transparently audit the energy and emission savings achieved before and after a renovation. These aspects of measuring real performance make KES a gamechanger. This has sparked some interest recently from one national government, which wants to understand how we could support them in some of their social housing initiatives. It will be interesting to see what these discussions lead to.
How do you view the future?
Change is constant and that is always exciting. Our industry is changing, the way we reach our customers is changing, so is legislation. We have to stay agile, continue to invest in our people and our leaders, and maintain our focus on improving the sustainability of our company and our products. The future is good! For A Better World!