Carsystem brand doesn’t need detailed presentation. Its relatively recent appearance in the Russian market has turned into acknowledged competitive ability. How? Generally by means of a group of like-minded persons who promote the dolphin-labeled products. All of them are professionals with a great knowledge of modern market trends and technology. They know how to reach acceptable refinish quality.
Today we are presenting to your attention our interview with people who are responsible for Carsystem brand within Vosschemie GmbH: Jochen Rohde –member of the board – and Thomas Weppner – the product-marketing-manager.
Refinish News Magazine:
- Tell us please, when and why did the Carsystem brand appear in the Vosschemie product range? What are your plans for the nearest future?
- Carsystem appeared 10, almost 11, years ago with the idea to create a new refinish brand but without paints in it. The start of our existence and the first developed product was polyester putty. Our assortment grew as the demand for pre-painting materials and tools grew. At the same time, we stood on the principle “everything but paint”. Our goal today is to launch no less than 40 new products a year.
Our catalogue includes more than 1000 items and allows our customers to get only two suppliers for effective refinish work. One supplier delivers paints and clear coats and the other – Carsystem – the rest. We are able to meet all customer needs.
Vosschemie is legally and practically a family business. We are trying to build our relationship with customers on the same basis. The founder of the company Mr. Claus Voss still actively works with us although he is 78 years old. His sons are the company General Managers. We are a family in the full sense of the word.
A very important point in our activity is close communication. We don’t consider our work a heavy duty. We think of it as of a pleasant hobby that brings pleasure and profit. Actually, everyone who works with us has a Carsystem heart and a small dolphin on the forehead.
- We vividly react to all market demands. That is why our production is not limited to materials. This year Carsystem has presented a new putty mixer. Putty and hardener are normally mixed by hand. Now we made a special machine. Claus Voss is its inventor. We don’t plan to sell it we will only rent it so it would be used only for Vosschemie materials. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more about our plans. This is secret information because we are working in a highly competitive market and our rivals are always awake. But I can assure you that we are going to widen our product range. Our investment in the production totals 6 million euros.
People in our country have mixed feelings toward companies which don’t produce goods by themselves but place orders with other producers so that they make goods with their brands. What do you think about it?
In fact, it is far from easy for a company to make all goods by itself. You know how many different products are necessary for car repair now. After all, it is not so important who produces and what they produce, it is much more important that the customer receives a high-quality product. That is why the producer’s concern must be quality control. I can’t say for others, but as far as our company is concerned I can tell you, ‘we constantly control everything that is produced under our trademark’.
Unlike most other companies we test all the materials that are produced with the Carsystem logo by our partners. Before appearing in the market each new product is tried in field conditions in real bodyshop conditions. Only if there are not any problems and the product meets the required characteristics we can start to sell it.
In case any problems arise, we instantly stop sales and carefully analyze the situation.
We value our name high. Yes, we are not a cheap brand but we maintain our quality. We never save money on raw materials. Even when it is possible to find something less expensive we buy only the best. We ship 37 tons of putty daily and get only 0,2% of reclamations. This is a very good figure and we are proud of it.
- Coming back to your plans. Can you describe the place for Russia in them?
- Russia is one of our priority markets. We also are very interested in Eastern European countries at the moment. Why? This is obvious. People in Western Europe prefer to replace car parts rather than repair it. You damage the door – you replace it with a new one. This practice is encouraged by insurance companies and car makers. It is more profitable for them to invest in replacement than body repair. That is why we make an emphasis on the Eastern European market where significant financial resources are concentrated and where we have very good partners. This market has great potential at the moment.
Today Russian refinish is not inferior to that in the rest of the world. However, some German companies still consider Eastern European countries and particularly Russia backward countries where the standards of Western Europe are not popular and they can supply Russia with less progressive products than they have for Western Europe. We know that this is not true. Not once I had a chance to judge for myself, so I can tell you that there are real professionals in Russia. They have high-tech equipment and need only high-quality materials.
The fact that in both Europes the quality of repair is the same seems obvious when Germans make to Poland or the Czech Republic to repair their cars at lower prices. They get the same result as in Germany but 40-50% cheaper. I’m sure they would gladly go to Russia if this country were closer.
Thank you for such a high opinion, but you probably know that in our country wet sanding is still very popular and this technology is very far from high-tech.
Indeed, wet sanding is still widely used in Russia, but I’m sure that your guys will switch to dry sanding even faster that they expect as the world practice showed that this method is more correct and more efficient. At the beginning of my career about 17 years ago almost 30-40% of work was made wet-on-wet. It took us almost 10 years to realize the disadvantages of this method and abandon it. At the moment wet sanding is quite rare in Europe. I even can’t give you any figures because nobody pays attention to this method and takes it into account. I think your country is going to travel the same path and come to the common technology in the end.
It is clear that sanding machines are pretty expensive and it explains why wet sanding is more economically efficient in Russia at this point. You’d rather pay for hands than for modern equipment but if the bodyshop employees and directors want to achieve a high-quality result, they will certainly take up the “dry” method.
You know the saying: time is money. As far as sanding is concerned the meaning of these words is explained quite vividly. Hand sanding takes twice longer than the machine work. This is worker’s time. His working time - I emphasize – that could be paid better.
By the way one of the countries where wet sanding is widely used is Egypt. Now its refinish market is about 10 years behind the Russian. Why is that so? That is because hand labor there is much cheaper than machine work. The water shortage is compensated by low salaries.
However, the world today is getting, as they say, more compact. We don’t know whether it is good or not but we can’t ignore globalization. Progressive technologies spread very fast. Neither state borders nor distances can stop them. People see for themselves what is effective and what is not. Professionals quickly exchange experience through different channels. It’s no longer a problem with such inventions as the telephone and the Internet. Every interesting and useful thing can travel from one part of the world to another. The dry sanding is an example of technology which became a world-wide known method from something local and unknown.
Another reason of slow technology acceptance is low professionalism in some countries. In Germany people study three years to become a car painter! Otherwise nobody will trust them a car and give a spray gun. In Russia painters usually study on their own and, unfortunately, often learn from their own mistakes. Most of them definitely achieve high professional level but they still lack fundamental knowledge. That knowledge is the basis. It’s impossible to understand the advantages and disadvantages of a technology or material without knowing that basis.
But let’s be fair to Russian specialists, they want to learn much more than the Germans. I would like to mention the high attendance at our training courses all over Russia (there are more than 30 courses a year). It is obvious that people are interested, ask questions.
I can’t but agree that dry sanding is more effective than wet. At the same time there still a lot of unclear points. The choice of abrasives, for instance. It seems as if the producers are trying to exceed each other in making more and more holes in sanding disks: 6, 7, 9, 21 and even a sanding net. Does it mean the more holes the better? Should we wait for 30- or, say, 42-hole sanding disks?
It is hard to make a forecast about the increase of abrasive holes. We need more research and analysis. Anyway we like the idea of a net. Perhaps it is not as economically efficient as expected but this product definitely deserves attention. The high price of this kind of abrasives still frightens away the customers. Even if somebody buys them the abrasives are used until the very end and complete wear-out exceeding the life-limits. Consequently, the results obtained are far from good and we can hear bad opinions about nets. However, we are sure that nets will develop in future.
As far as the 7, 9, 15, 21, etc. holes are concerned do not ask me which is the best. The question does not make sense. They all work. In my personal opinion, the 7 and 21 holes are better. But this is only my personal judgement.
You see, the quality of sanding work doesn’t depend solely on abrasive. The dust extraction system, sanding machine and back pads are important too. We do not work with separate units with their individual characteristics, but with the sanding system as a whole. The “system” means that disadvantages of one of its units can cause the failure of the whole system. In the same way, the advantages of the system elements that do not combine with each other simply become disadvantages. An ideal abrasive will not work with a bad dust extraction.
Furthermore, the quality of work depends on a number of objective technological conditions. It is necessary to know the technology and follow it. Problems may arise if you press the sanding machine too much even if you use a high-quality abrasive. Sometimes the defects cannot be seen immediately. They become visible only after paint application. The painter blames the abrasive first but a careful analysis finds a preparation work mistake. Therefore, it is almost impossible to say which abrasive is better. Every professional has his own preferences and experience.
All I can say is, you can get a very bad result even if you use a very good material. Nevertheless, you will never get a good result if you use bad materials.
However, why do you say the 7- and 21-holes are better?
I like 7-holes because their holes are very well located. Right at the points where the centrifugal force pulls the dust. The same can be said about the 21-holes. The reason is the location of the holes, not the number. For instance, the 9-holes have channels situated close to the disk edge so the dust concentrates somewhere in the center.
If there are more than 21 holes, a different problem may arise. The dust extraction force could be not sufficient for cleaning the abrasive with many holes and you may need more a powerful extraction system. The abrasive surface is also smaller and it is hard to achieve the necessary vacuum.
Anyway, I’d like to repeat that the abrasives with 6, 9 and another number of holes are not bad! They also work.
You have mentioned technological conditions. Which place you would leave for the sanding machine? We know that there are two big producers of sanding equipment in the world market. They use different technologies and distribution principles.
In fact, the back pad characteristics are more important than the sanding machine producer. I do understand which two companies you are talking about. They both make very good machines and which one to buy is a matter of personal choice. This is more a question of choosing the equipment supplier. If we are talking about sanding work, it is more important to choose the right back pad than the machine. You can get different results every time you change the pads on your machine.
It is notable that some of the sanding machine producers guarantee their good work and give warranty only on terms of using the certified back pad.
Unfortunately, we cannot give you a perfect recipe: take this and you’ll win. Only the system can bring a result. For instance, Carsystem recommends using its polishing pads with the appropriate back pads. Otherwise, the work can be spoiled.
Honestly, how often do bodyshop workers think of back pad changing? The work looks good, so everything is Ok. Pad changing requires extra time and skills.
We also cannot claim that one particular product is good in every situation and every kind of repair. That is true to the number of holes, by the way. Every more or less known producer can send its representative to a bodyshop to announce that the company has invented absolutely genius abrasive with, say, 28 holes! This abrasive works better than the others that is immediately demonstrated and looks believable. This abrasive could really be effective in some cases but it couldn’t be equally good in other conditions and it couldn’t solve all the problems. Finally, the bodyshops pay for abrasives, not for holes!
Furthermore, there are abrasives for different kinds of topcoats. Some paint producers use harder surfacers while others use softer surfacers. Again, you should follow the instruction to save the quality. We are coming back to the system again. The producers extend their product ranges because every product has its purpose and combinatory materials.
How can bodyshop personnel and directorship choose the right supplier and not get lost in the variety of products?
The most important rule is working within the system! This is the basis! You should stay within system once you have chosen one and use the products of only one manufacturer. It is usually better understood when we are talking about painting or polishing but not sanding. It is hard to say why. If you buy the best polishing paste and take the polishing pad from other system, you won’t get a good-looking surface. Only a system as a whole guarantees perfect quality.
Producers (we are talking about honest producer) always test their new materials and check their combinability. You can switch from system to system, from supplier to supplier, but please don’t mix them.
Perhaps, the only product that can work independently is the masking tape and maybe some other simple accessories.
And finally, as part of a tradition please give advice to our readers.
I’d like to repeat once again: Work within the system, follow the technology, use the approved and high-quality materials and your bodyshop will be crowded with clients!