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Since its foundation in 1911, Franke's success has been based on innovative engineering, unique design, and outstanding Swiss quality. “These values are still the cornerstone of our success today, together with an entrepreneurial spirit, solution-oriented action, and a sense of responsibility,” said Don Gamble, president of Home Solutions North America at Franke Group.
Today, Franke is driven by a passion for finding unusual solutions for everyday problems. Every one of its projects demonstrates the ambition to achieve unique results with outstanding innovations in technology and design. “We are looking for the unique way that makes our products more functional, simpler, and more aesthetic,” Gamble added.
A Business Rooted in Innovation is One Rooted for Growth
In July 2020, the Franke Group bundled its strengths in the segments of food preparation, cooking, and exhaust air purification for domestic kitchens and merged its Faber hoods and Franke Kitchen Systems divisions into a new division under the name Franke Home Solutions. “The aim was to consolidate and further expand Franke's leading market position in these areas,” Gamble noted.
Today, Franke has four divisions—its newest division Franke Home Solutions, plus Franke Foodservice Systems, Franke Water Systems, and Franke Coffee Systems. Gamble works out of the North American headquarters in Smyrna, Tennessee, and has been with the company just under two years. “We have a strong footprint all over the world,” he said. “It’s interesting because I used to sell Franke products when I was in college, working for a plumbing wholesaler. And now, I’ve come full circle to be president of Franke Home Solutions for North America,” states Gamble.
The new Franke Home Solutions division not only stands for food preparation (sinks, faucets, accessories, filtration, and waste disposers) and cooking (kitchen exhaust hoods) but also reflects the perspective to leverage the division's expertise to grow its presence in the kitchen. Barbara Borra, president, and CEO of the Global Franke Home Solutions Division describes the reasons as follows: "With the new division, we have set ourselves the goal of steadily expanding our presence in the kitchen. Our anchor products should act as door openers to expand into new spaces, such as with indoor air quality. Our vision is to be present in every household with our innovative solutions. Franke Home Solutions focuses not only on high-quality products and excellent service but also on the development of intelligent end-to-end solutions. With a complementary, perfectly matched range of products from a single source and simpler sales and service structures, we can support our B2B partners even better and offer our consumers the best possible experience. In doing so, we can create real added value for our stakeholders—business partners, end consumers, and employees.”
“In North America, our Franke Home Solutions approach is a four-brand strategy in the marketplace,” Gamble said. “KWC a faucet-only brand. Franke our kitchen system brand, which includes everything from sinks, faucets, accessories, disposers, hot water dispensers, and filtration. Kindred, which manufactures sinks and waste disposers, and is the market leader in Canada. And Faber for kitchen hoods. Making us a leading provider of intelligent systems and solutions for the kitchen.”
The Scale and Reach Within Wholesale Distribution Opens Doors for Franke
When Gamble came on board as president of the Home Solutions division, it was his goal to close the gap in market share within wholesale distribution. “Franke has typically gone to market through appliance distributors or luxury showrooms,” he said. “I saw an opportunity to develop different markets, all of which have great luxury showrooms that we just were not doing business with.”
He recognized, however, that the company needed to expand its product offerings. “There was a great opportunity for us to understand and grow with this channel,” he said. “But we needed to position ourselves from a mid-price point all the way to premium. As a result, we brought the Kindred brand to the U.S. market. We now have our Franke and Faber brands positioned from a mid-price point to a luxury price point; our Kindred line from a mid-price point to an opening price point; and our KWC line for the luxury faucet products. This gives us a deep portfolio to take into the wholesale distribution channel.”
Executing on the Go-To-Market Strategy
“Outstanding quality has been one of our most important success factors for more than 100 years. No matter which one of our brands we are selling, our products are durable, robust, and sustainable,” Gamble said. “We have a great story and a value proposition we can share. We are continually testing and improving, and always asking ourselves how we can make a product even better. This claim is reflected in our entire value-added process.”
As he and his team continue to bring new ideas to the table, one thing Gamble was very clear about was that a big part of defining the strategy and watching it work is to be a part of it and have boots on the ground. “Focus and execution are very important to us to keep us going in the direction we need to be going,” he said.
As Gamble forges forward with his business strategy in North America he said the goal is to act differently than they ever have before. “We're approaching this business differently,” he said. “We are adapting to changes in the marketplace to better understand the needs of our customers. We are operating in a very dynamic world today, and things that we did two or three years ago aren't relevant in today's world, let alone those that are stuck 10 or 20 years ago.”
Innovation is a Long Game
Franke has been innovating since day one. Michael Pieper, the owner of Franke Group, has been quoted saying, “We reinvent ourselves every day.” Gamble notes that philosophy is part of the company's DNA. “As a company, we have a very entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to understand to fill an unmet need. So, reinventing ourselves to be able to do that or approach that, I think is important.”
One of Franke’s latest inventions was Kindred EZ Torque. “This is just one of several innovations across the brand,” Gamble said. “EZ Torque is an installation system that allows users to drop and drill their sink into place, securely locking the sink to the countertop. It is easier and faster to install than a standard sink system. “This product is going to help us gain market share in the plumbing wholesale channels because it's unique,” Gamble said. “With every Franke product, each detail is considered, right down to our quality, our reliability, and our heritage, and that’s what Franke Home Solutions represents.”
“When you think about our company tagline—Make it Wonderful—it’s meant to be about making the employee experience wonderful, the customer experience wonderful, and the consumer experience wonderful.”
Gamble added, “It encapsulates how the company approaches its people. People are fundamental and very important. Barbara always tells me, ‘people are very important to success,’ and I couldn’t agree more. The right people with the right motivation and the right level of empowerment can make the changes we need to happen in our business.”
Franke embodies this same philosophy to help the partners it works with succeed as well. The key is in training and support. “We provide good value in the features and products that we bring to the marketplace,” he noted. “But what I ultimately want to do is differentiate us by the experience our customers have with our brands. And we do that through training and providing support, as well as the tools they need to be more productive.”
Looking to Meet the Next Milestone
Although the last year has ushered in many challenges and unanticipated changes, Gamble said “We’re looking forward to attaining the visibility of our Franke Home Solutions brands; Franke, Kindred, Faber, and KWC brands in the wholesale distribution channels.”
He added, “Our number one priority right now is to let our customers know who we are and what value we can bring to their business. Growing with our customers so we can be present in each and every household with a Franke anchor product.”