The Soudal Group is the largest independent European manufacturer of sealants, adhesives and polyurethane foams for professional and private users. The Belgian family business was founded by Vic Swerts in 1966, with its Hungarian branch set up 33 years later, in May 1999, in Budapest.
As Country Manager János Oltyán explains to Diplomacy&Trade, “at that time, we rented a warehouse with offices in a suburb of Budapest. We started with the typical Belgian concept ‘step by step’ and so, the company was also built up like that in terms of personnel. For several years, we could count on customers who had been buying directly from the Belgian HQ. At that time, the competitors were raging on the market, and when we visited a customer, it looked like the market was already full and all cards had been played ahead. Of course, over the years, the Soudal team has proved that this is not the case. We have learned a lot and developed on the market. We focus a lot on product training for our own employees and especially for customers or professional end users. In recent years, we have put a lot of focus on online marketing and it has been proven that there is very good support for our promotion activities. We bought the current HQ building in the Budaörs Industrial Park, just outside Budapest, in 2005, which, in retrospect, was a very good decision for a long-term investment, which still serves us and will continue to do so in the future.”
When Soudal bought the building, the idea was that it would be very suitable for an East European distribution center. It works as a consignment warehouse from where they supply the ex-Yugoslav countries and Bulgaria. As the Country Manager points out, it is quite a complex task, but “together with the Belgian planning team, we're doing it quite well. Over time, we would also have to do enormous remodeling to increase capacity in 2007. In addition, part of the warehouse had to be rebuilt to be fireproof. That was an investment of EUR 233,000. There is now space for more than 1,500 pallets with four forklifts, seven warehouse workers and with three logistics crews. We can say that we work with high efficiency, the total incoming and outgoing goods quantity is over 17,000,000 pieces, in PU foams and silicones, which is about 10,200 tons a year. Since starting supplying this southern region, this area has been expanding with new customers year after year, which spurs us on to be more effective.”
Soudal is an international player and expert in chemical construction specialties and is the market leader in Hungary in this product segment. In 2021, with PU foams, they had over 50% market share and over 25% sealants – about 35% in total. “Our activity is highly dependent on the performance of the construction industry, so, in recent years we cannot complain because the government has made strong stimulating measures to make this industry the ‘main driver’ of the economy. We have developed our product portfolio in this direction in order to be able to meet the expectations dictated by the industry. The biggest part of the building industry has been the insulation in recent years and it will remain so in the future due to the energy crisis. Another strong segment is the window and door manufacturing and installation. Since the beginning, we have had a constant focus on this professional channel, and thus, Soudal has become a household name in this segment. Despite the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis, a shortage of raw materials and the still present epidemic, we are optimistic because our parent company has recently also come up with many innovative solutions for the end user who can save time and energy. There is also a strong trend for recycling products, a general trend in building material production. This could be a breakthrough in tackling raw material shortages, which have been a clear aspiration in recent months. We already have end products that are made from recycled materials and not just the packaging materials. That shows how quickly Soudal can adapt to a quick turnaround and it indicates that the focus on innovation is always there,” János Oltyán highights.
Hungarian contribution to R&D
Soudal has a long-term vision for innovation with substantial investment in research and development and with adaptations to local market requirements. Soudal was the first on the Hungarian market to spread hybrid adhesives and sealants instead of selling products with containing solvents. Their FIX ALL range is very popular. In addition, with their EASY BOND foam adhesive, they were also the first to start trading and shaping the market. I am convinced that SOUDAL is one of the most innovative companies in the world, sensitive to trends and expectations of different markets, which is only possible by paying attention to employees and clients. “The GENIUS GUN, a one-handed foam, is a world patent, which also received an innovation award and we are very proud of the fact that there is a Hungarian aspect to this development, a Hungarian engineer also took part in the design process. It was a big and risky switch from traditional foam in 2015, but it exceeded all of our expectations,” he adds.
The Soudal Group is a pioneer in developing sustainable products that are safe for people and the environment. The Country Manager notes that “after having been active in Hungary for 22 years, I can say that we have a very good reputation. Through these years, we have built a strong trust with our customers. Even during the crises (2008-2011, 2020), they could count on us and stayed loyal. We were only able to achieve constant innovation through the innovative products as well as in our organization. That is the only way to maintain stability. Of course, you also need strong support from the parent company, as this is the only way you can take on and keep responsibility. Using continuously improved IT and ERP system offers many opportunities for digitization, which makes the work processes more efficient and smoother and without paper-based documentation. In this area, too, innovative solutions are constantly being developed.”
Top company – top team
Soudal is one of the main sponsors of Belgian cyclists participating at the Giro d’Italia race that starts from Hungary this year. As for the values that are common both at Soudal and cycling, János Oltyán puts it simply with a smile: “a TOP company can only have a top team! I could list all the common values like perseverance, will, organization, commitment. This decision of sponsorship was also a hit, we never thought that there would be so many fans among our customers. We joined this sponsorship at a time when the popularity of cycling is increasing in Hungary. It's a very strong motivation for our sales team, it's a very good reason to be proud, after all, LOTTO SOUDAL is one of the best teams in this sport,” the Country Manager concludes.
Soudal Hungary milestones
• 1999 - Year of foundation
• 2005 - Purchase of the HQ central building
• 2006 - The company achieved a turnover of HUF 1 billion
• 2009 - SAP B1: introduction of a professional corporate governance system
• 2010 - Start up technical manager concept in the professional segment
• 2012 - Organization of a central European consignment warehouse
• 2017 - Introduction of CRM customer management system
• 2018 - SAP R3: introduction of a professional corporate governance system
• 2019 – Start up on SEE region the Marketing and Technical sales support.
• 2021 - The company achieved a turnover of HUF 5.5 billion (competitor for second place is at HUF 2 billion)
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