Four pillars and a promise – an interview with SCHELL managing director Andrea Bußmann

6-minute read

As a family-run business, SCHELL is very familiar with the need to balance tradition and change. Together with Andrea Schell (Co-Partner and Director of Finance and HR) and Andreas Ueberschär (Director of Production and Technology), Andrea Bußmann (Director of Marketing, Sales and Product Management since 2020) works to promote this balance at SCHELL with the aim of providing fertile ground for many innovative and advanced ideas. A key part of her role here is positioning SCHELL’s contactless fittings and smart solutions to achieve the greatest impact from a marketing and sales perspective. Part of this work includes placing a greater emphasis on digital apps, and supplementing the company’s products with services in relation to drinking water and user hygiene. While doing so, Andrea Bußmann always keeps an eye on the four pillars on which SCHELL’s corporate philosophy is based.

Raising awareness for digital solutions

“Many of our customers in wholesale, the trades, architecture and planning tend to think of SCHELL as the global market leader for angle valves and appliance connection valves. It’s a bit like everyone talking about ‘googling’ when they mean searching the internet,” says Andrea Bußmann. “So it’s something of a challenge to get people to think of our company and the SCHELL brand name in connection with our second pillar. By which I mean our wide variety of contactless, electronic taps and fittings, which we continue to expand and improve on. And also our closely-related product and service: our Water Management System SWS and the optional SMART.SWS service tool. Many of our market partners still don’t know about either of these.” Pushing ahead with digitalisation is therefore an essential part of the company’s transformation – a continuous process that now forms part of SCHELL’s long-term strategy. While the company has already made major progress in this area over the last decade, it isn’t resting on its laurels but continuing to plan ambitiously for the future.

Prioritising people

Yet digitalisation is not the be-all and end-all. “Our day-to-day business always focuses on the people,” emphasises Andreas Bußmann. “First and foremost, that means our employees. Here, we have a duty of care that we take very seriously. Beyond our workforce, this also means all of the people who use our products worldwide on a daily basis. We take responsibility for clean drinking water that works to protect the health of users and therefore avoid follow-on costs as a result of substandard hygiene. Last but not least, this also means our business partners, whom we always treat fairly and as equals.” People are therefore the point of focus for the SCHELL corporate philosophy. The other three pillars of this philosophy are quality, sustainability and innovation.

Legendary SCHELL quality – always ‘Made in Germany’

“Our primary customer segments are to be found in the commercial, semi-public and public sectors,” Bußmann explains. “We therefore need to have products that are very durable and robust. Our fittings have solid brass bodies – and are not made from the zinc diecast parts typically offered by other providers. This means our products offer protection from vandalism and have a long service life. We produce technically sound products whose reliability reduces the costs of maintenance and servicing.” However, as a provider of coordinated systems, SCHELL offers more than just individual products. “At SCHELL, the customer receives the best all-in-one solution, tailored to their exact requirements, and packaged together with our services and first class aftersales.” Two important factors for the legendary SCHELL quality are the local factories in Olpe, Germany. “Quality inspections are carried out her at all stages of production. In this way, we can resolve any problems quickly if they occur – before ending up with a faulty product on the market. And when our fittings leave our Sauerland factories on their way to our customers all over the world, they naturally bear the quality mark ‘Made in Germany’,” Bußmann explains.

Sustainability across the board

At SCHELL, sustainability is an integral part of the company’s DNA. “We take our responsibilities to both people and the environment very seriously.” Green electricity is used throughout the company, for example, so as to minimise its carbon footprint. The ‘cradle-to-cradle principle’ is also applied at SCHELL, alongside efficient logistics, the use of e-mobility and much more besides. See this post to find out more. Another aspect is the functionality of the products. Bußmann: “With our electronic fittings, water only flows when it is actually needed, for example. So: we actively save water. Our Water Management System also ensures that hygiene flushes are only carried out when necessary and only with the appropriate volume of water that is actually required. Contactless fittings also save lots of energy in the case of hot water supply systems.” All of this benefits SCHELL’s customers, who can themselves take steps to promote sustainable processes.

Innovation with a digital focus

Another pillar of the SCHELL corporate philosophy is the importance of innovations. “In this context, we are looking to offer the market an increasing number of digital products, so as to make greater use of opportunities to manage drinking water innovatively, digitally and online,” Bußmann explains. This is welcomed by customers, who need advice on planning and designing complex drinking water installations to maintain water quality and prevent Legionella outbreaks. Specified normal operation of the installation is also a key topic in this context. In many public and semi-public buildings, operations have not yet returned to normal after the pandemic and stagnation in the drinking water system is an issue for many facility managers. Digital solutions can be extremely helpful for maintaining drinking water quality. “Beyond this, the pandemic has also significantly changed attitudes to hygiene,” Bußmann explains. “As a result, demand for our contactless products has risen sharply and this is a trend that we certainly expect to continue into the future.” As an expert for drinking water and user hygiene, SCHELL can provide customers with valuable expertise here, and will continue to develop innovative products and service solutions going forward. “In this way, we will help users around the world experience the premium quality of SCHELL products, as we continue to uphold our quality promise ‘Smart and sustainable water management with SCHELL’ in the future,” Bußmann concludes.