The Forum at Egger's Austrian HQ has been playing host to the wood-based panel manufacturer's customers since it was opened 25 years ago – this January the company invited guests to the venue to see for themselves how Egger is proactively embracing the future. By Emma Hedges.
Egger's HQ is situated in St Johann in Tirol in one of the most picture-perfect rural landscapes in existence, with epic mountain ranges that draw travellers from all over the globe to visit the whole year round. The forests in the region first provided the raw material for the original chipboard plant when it opened in 1961, and it is perhaps because of this breathtaking location that Egger is particularly focused on preserving the environment – 70% of the energy it currently uses comes from renewable sources, and the Group says it 'sees active climate protection as its great duty'. As a result, it has committed to Net Zero by 2050.
As it looks to the future, sustainability is clearly a cornerstone of its vision, but it's not the only one – co-operation is vital. "2024 is a very challenging time," says Michael Egger Jr, chief sales officer of the Egger Group, and grandson of company founder Fritz Egger. "In times like these we can't do it alone – we need to do it together."
He's speaking at an event at the Egger Forum organised to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the showroom venue, and he's not just referring to the company's customers, but co-operation with complementary businesses as well. In the spirit of co-operation, Egger has invited Philipp Blum, CEO of fittings manufacturer Blum, and Gregor Riekena, chairman of the board of Häfele, to join in a discussion on 'sustainable growth in a world full of challenges'.
The discussion covers the common ground that the businesses share, including the fact that they are all family-owned enterprises. This, they all believe, has given them a significant advantage in terms of company culture, and the fact that continuity over generations creates its own momentum in challenging times. In addition, it has made them more agile. As Riekena summarises: "We don't need a map – we need a compass so we can adapt quickly."
The topic of sustainability is something they all feel passionately about, however, in order to grow sustainably investment is needed, and as a result the cost for businesses is high. Inevitably this will make their products more expensive, but ultimately customers will benefit from the positive impact on their own carbon footprints.
Next up is the reveal of Egger's new Decorative Collection 24+, which launches on 5th February. The rolling collection is set to be updated every 2 years without producing a completely new edition. This concept will enable the manufacturer to react more quickly to new trends and innovations, while the collection offers more than 300 decor/texture combinations so customers can enjoy maximum flexibility. To help customers, Egger has come up with the 'capsule' decor advice idea that presents co-ordinating combinations of the different colours, textures and finishes.
"We will be showcasing inspiring new introductions as well as established decors, sustainable products for a healthy home and a wide range of digital services that ideally complement our extensive Collection folder," adds Hubert Höglauer, head of product management and marketing furniture and interior design.
Finally, visitors are taken to view The Moving Tree – a joint project between Egger and Häfele that epitomises the spirit of co-operation. The concept combines the latest product developments and solutions from both companies, displayed within an oversized tree trunk that is divided into segments. The sections of the Tree – each weighing up to 2 tonnes – can easily be pushed apart thanks to Häfele's magnetic levitation technology, and the installations inside each part showcase inspirational design possibilites for micro and circular living.
While these are testing times for businesses, and the only thing certain about what's coming next is that there will be fresh challenges to overcome, the overall message from the day is both positive and clear: to be in the best position to face the future, businesses must embrace sustainability, flexibility and co-operation – all are key. As Michael Egger Jr says: "2024 is a very challenging time, but with great challenges come great opportunities."