After 35 Years, KHR Company LTD look back to their humble roots – and toward a positive future.
It’s an interesting time for a business like KHR Company Ltd. The family run shop based in Portswood might look small from the outside but it is one of the largest suppliers of floor sanding materials in the UK. KHR has now been in business for 35 years and has strong ties to many European brands and manufacturers. But with the recent referendum causing concern among business owners, the Directors of KHR are unshaken and see nothing but bright things on the horizon for their firm.
“We work with many European manufacturers to provide machinery and consumables to the floor sanding industry. It’s not known how our withdrawal from the European Union will affect the taxes and import costs that we have to deal with on a daily basis. However, we have no fear of what the future holds. Our strong heritage and hard-won partnerships for the last 35 years have taught us to have faith in our business.”
It was Karl and Jeanne Roese that began the KHR legacy after seeing an opportunity to import floor sanding machines to the UK. Their first sale in 1982 cemented their status as the UK's sole agents to Lagler, Germany; producers of the industry leading Hummel belt sander. Since then, KHR have grown into a one-stop shop for thousands of floor sanding businesses through their website KHR-Online.com.
“When we first started out my parents Karl and Jeanne were always on the road headed to trade presentations and looking for new customers to try their products. Even though it was tough, the support that companies like Lagler would give them was fantastic. They saw how hard my parents worked to open up the UK market to their products and, in return, would always give them the support and knowledge they asked for. They had a great product and professionals in the UK came to see how great it was for business.”
“We’ve always kept that in mind over the years. As a result, we invest huge time and energy into testing new products to make sure they are suitable for our customers. We will not stock products that skimp on quality or aren’t the best at what they do. As a result, the brands we do work with and the customers we sell to value us more. We have spent 35 years ensuring that our word can be trusted by the people we work with.”
This loyalty to our brands and customers is more than just a business model. It’s a KHR family value.
In December of last year Karl Roese sadly passed on, leaving it to his children to continue the family business.
Peter enjoyed many of his childhood years helping out in the workshop, his father teaching him how all of the products worked. Peter would spend hours taking apart machinery and putting it back together to until he knew how every part worked. After leaving college he took up an official post as the Technical Manager – a fitting post that let him continue to research new products and advise customers on their best use.
As the business grew, Karl and Jeanne’s daughter Katie stepped in to assist with the daily running of things. Drawing on the knowledge from her career in Bank management, business savvy Katie quickly went to work tracking down new leads and opportunities to grow KHR's customer base to new levels.
In 2008 when the financial crisis hit, KHR Company suffered like every other business in the UK. But it was the networks of support that helped avert disaster.
“We loaned out machines an accepted IOUs from our loyal customers. In this business it’s more important that people can work than pay up front and we trusted our customers to settle what they owed when they could. Likewise, our suppliers took the same line and supported us in getting their stock out to the people who needed it to complete jobs.” “In the end we didn’t lose a single member of staff. We stretched ourselves very far but made it out the other side together. It was a risky move in hindsight but we would rather have tried everything than let one of our own people down.”
2017 has been a great year so far and KHR Company Ltd. are on track to reach the highest turnover figures in the company’s history. They have revitalised marketing efforts and have launched a new website Lagler.co.uk to act as a hub for the German company’s products in the UK.
There is also now a Lagler UK Support app so that users of the floor sanding machines can get on-site tech support from their phones. Users can send through photos and questions from the site they are working on and get immediate help rather than have to lose a day’s worth of work. Again, this kind of aftercare and customer support set the company apart from many other businesses.
“As the sole agents for Lagler in the UK, business will continue to grow for us in the UK market no matter what changes occur due to our EU membership status. Our partnership with Lagler and many other European manufactures have been enduring, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
“This is a niche and respectable industry where professionals strive for quality in their work. There is a real art to floor restoration – a true craftsmanship – and it makes us proud that we can provide the tools and materials that our customers need to complete their hard work.”