More and more customers are looking for not only a supplier, but a strong partner: in addition to the fast and reliable supply of raw materials, suppliers should provide application expertise, ability to innovate, and the possibility of cooperation. In order to meet these requirements, OQ Chemicals worked on a new Commercial Operating Model in 2020.
Within OQ Chemicals / OXEA, marketing and sales of products used to be organized according to the product line: Oxo Intermediates with products such as n-Butanol and 2-Ethylhexanol on the one hand, Oxo Derivatives with products such as carboxylic acids, polyols, and, for example, specialty chemicals such as TCD Alcohol DM on the other. This often involved direct interaction with the market – the main drivers being supply and demand.
In an ever-changing market environment for Oxo Intermediates and Oxo Derivatives, it is necessary to maintain a sharp eye, understand the needs of the market, and adjust our products and services as necessary. In some applications and products, such as Propyls in the area of “Flexible Packaging”, going beyond the usual interplay of supply and demand and focusing more on the needs of certain industries and individual customers has already paid off. “We want to build on these past successes,” explains David Faust, Head of Industrial Marketing.
Developing Increased Industrial Expertise
“We are increasingly focused on the benefits of our products in (end-use) applications,” explains Faust.
In the future, OQ Chemicals intends not only to concentrate on the sale of products, but also to enter into an even closer dialog with industries and better understand their respective applications and trends in order to develop and offer suitable solutions.
OQ Chemicals is pursuing this further with the new Commercial Operating Model. Our service is now increasingly oriented towards the industrial segments and end applications in which the products from OQ Chemicals are used.
This also means that employees can continue to specialize and focus their work accordingly. While in the past, marketing looked after product groups such as polyols or carboxylic acids, in selected areas the focus will move to supporting the industrial segments in which the products are used.
“Our goal is to understand the trends, drivers, and technologies of the relevant markets even better, in order to align ourselves accordingly – now and in the future,” explains Faust.
“ We want to enter into an even closer dialog with our business partners.”
David Faust, Head of Industrial Marketing
Our organizational structure and focus on the corresponding industry segments should put OQ Chemicals in an even better position to base what it offers very closely on the needs of customers. The result ranges from a suitable service package to cooperation in projects and the evaluation of alternative raw materials and technologies. Sustainability topics, which are being appropriately highlighted and, of course, taken into account in the development of segment strategies, are increasingly playing a role.
OQ Chemicals wants to offer its know-how to a greater audience, and thus become even more of an innovative solution provider.
OQ Chemicals has already expanded its technical service for this purpose. “Overall, we now have more employees who are able to actively advise customers,” explains Faust. As a result, he also expects cross-selling effects within the portfolio: “This allows us to play to our strengths more effectively and exploit synergies.”
Markus Hoschke, Head of Global Marketing, describes another goal of the new model: “Through the reorientation, we want to become a preferred contact partner for our customers. To this end, it is important to under-stand them even more, in order to be able to support them even better in their product development.”
Discussing and Designing
For the employees, the new orientation also means some changes, and for the company it represents a challenging change management process. The segment strategies are due to be finalized by the end of 2021. These determine in detail in which regions and with which products, solutions, and offers OQ Chemicals wants to have a more powerful presence.
For David Faust, it is important to emphasize how complex identifying and managing the sometimes very different customer needs can be. “Business with oxo chemicals is generally about quantity, availability, delivery time, price, and, above all, reliability in delivery,” explains Faust. “Regardless of whether we are talking about intermediates or derivatives, our customers sometimes desire very different services.”
“We want to be a problem solver, not just a supplier.”
Markus Hoschke, Head of Global Marketing
The New Commercial Operating Model
With the new Commercial Operating Model, service is no longer exclusively geared toward products, but also the specific needs of the following industrial segments:
- Feed, Food & Agriculture
- Flexible Packaging
- Infrastructure & Construction
- Lubricants & Functional Fluids
- Automotive & Transportation
- Paints & Coatings
- Pharmaceutical & Medical Care
- Personal & Home Care
Customer Needs in Focus
Dr. Jens Klabunde is Segment Manager for Feed, Food & Agriculture. The trained chemist and biotechnologist has been with the company for ten years. After a period as Technology Assessment Manager in Research and Development, he moved to Marketing and Sales. He increasingly took charge of business development, with a focus on packaging printing and animal feed. In his new role as segment manager, he is a central part of the change to the new Commercial Operating Model.
He says that with the new model, his point of view has changed fundamentally once again, from the product and application to the special requirements of the customers. “This is a change of perspective that also affects the way I think and act,” explains the manager. There are many different products in his area of responsibility, he points out: acids, amines, and solvents. Now he is looking at what he offers in an even more focused way “from the other side of the table,” from the point of view of industry and the market, he ex-plains.
“We are producers, and that will continue to be the case. But in some areas, we will look further beyond our horizons.”
Dr. Jens Klabunde, Segment Manager Feed, Food & Agriculture
Role Change and New Areas of Responsibility
For Klabunde, the new orientation also has personal advantages: “I am interested in both technical and commercial aspects. With my previous professional experience, I have a very good basis for the strategic development of a segment.” It is clear that the new task brings him a lot of joy: “I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Klabunde feels that OQ Chemicals is on the right track with the new model: “In my area, I expect us to be-come much more agile, to better adapt our portfolio and capacities to the market,” he says. “We are producers, and that will continue to be the case. But in some areas, we will look further beyond our horizons, and that is what we are doing with the new model.”
“ Interaction with colleagues helps me to apply know-how from other markets in Turkey, too.”
Fulya Turanli, Chemicals Sales Manager
Not Just Talking about Prices and Quantities
Fulya Turanli is Chemicals Sales Manager and responsible for the sale of oxo products in Turkey. What she particularly likes about her job is the opportunity to combine her academic knowledge with the economic and technical aspects of the chemical industry. Turanli brings extensive experience in the field of sales, both of specialty chemicals and commodities.
She got underway with the new Commercial Operating Model at OQ Chemicals just under a year ago. “The point of view I have is very exciting,” says Turanli. “I look at our customers’ fields of application and am not limited to just talking to them about prices and quantities. Instead, I look to understand the role our products play in their end-use applications.”
In the process, she always remains in close contact with business and segment managers, and also sales managers in other regions, she says.
Identifying Blind Spots
The dynamics for the same application can vary considerably from market to market, she points out. “As a company that operates in many countries and for very different industries, however, we can gain a good understanding of where these differences lie,” Turanli says. Another one of her aims, she explains, is identifying possible blind spots for her market. The support of her colleagues is helpful in that regard, she says.
Business development managers and segment man-agers keep in contact with sales managers from different regions and can take a broader look at industries and regions. “In this way, they can see how the markets are changing,” Turanli says. She does not always have the opportunity to deal comprehensively and in depth with current trends herself, she admits: “Thanks to the new model, through interaction with colleagues I still get relevant information that would not otherwise be available to me.”
Becoming a Solutions Partner
Raghav Dandapani is responsible for business development in the field of oxo chemicals for the Indian subcontinent. He is a Masters’ graduate in Chemical Engineering from TU Eindhoven, Netherlands and has been working with the company for nearly three years, initially in the Markets & Product development team under Innovation & Technology. “I deal with the blend of technical and commercial responsibilities,” says Dandapani about the move to his new role. He asserts, “OQ Chemicals being a young company with long history and deep experience in oxo business, will be of a natural attraction to Indian customers. Strong emphasis and thrust given by OQ Chemicals to the Indian market aligns well with its growth and the potential.”
Dandapani opines, “With the new model, we can position ourselves not exclusively as a supplier, but as a partner that can contribute to solutions”. He feels the transition so far has been very smooth and continues to open up tremendous opportunities. “It is exciting to apply the new Commercial Operating Model which drives growth through value-maximization to customers,” says Dandapani. And he believes there will also be room for learning: “The segment strategy will be more resilient and evolve with each passing day, adopting to market dynamics”.
“ It is exciting to apply the new Commercial Operating Model which drives growth through value-maximization to customers.”
Raghav Dandapani, Business Development Oxo Chemicals Indian Subcontinent
New Segments and Areas of Application
Raghav sums up the future path of OQ Chemicals in India as Establish, Exchange, Expand. Although many customers know OXEA, OQ Chemicals is still new as a brand and needs to be established, he explains. The second point concerns what is offered: “The new model focuses on exchange of ideas & solutions with customers about their applications and end markets,” explains the business developer.
In the long term, the company wants to grow in India, says Raghav. “We want to expand our range in key segments, and also tap into new segments and new areas of application.”