ECKART Pigment are cycling along

Success story from our Business Development

"Where there's shadow, there's light!"

Loosely based on this saying, our Industrial Coatings and Business Development departments have proceeded to participate in the pandemic-related successes of certain industries. One clear winner of the Corona pandemic was the bicycle industry, whose sales - especially due to e-bike sales - seemed to go through the roof. ECKART has successfully managed to take advantage of this realization and tap into new customers in the bike sector.
Christoph Sontheimer (Business Development), Sandra Weny and Michael Neumüller (Industrial Coatings) tell more about this success story in an interview. 

How did this Business Development project come about?

"As a passionate mountain biker, I know that bicycle frames are finished using different materials," says Sontheimer. "When it became clear how strongly the bike market was growing through Corona, we seized this opportunity and developed exclusive metallic shades for frames - just as we have been successfully offering for the automotive industry for a long time."

How did you get the bike manufacturer target group?

Michael Neumüller has this to say: "We have drawn up a concept of what benefits the bike industry will gain from working with us. The main advantage is obvious: working out exclusive metallic shades together with bike manufacturers will reach the attention of designers, product managers - and in the end, of course, the end customers - in equal measure." Classic cold calling via visits to local bike stores and social media helped to establish initial contacts with the new customer base.

How did you make the cycling professionals aware of ECKART's service and products?

Christoph Sontheimer: "We were allowed to present our concept online in some cases, and directly to the manufacturer in others. Then we invited these potential customers to a designer workshop in Güntersthal to define their individual colors together with them." Some customers provided so-called "mood boards" as a guide to their ideas for future colors. Mood boards are collages made up of photos and illustrations that serve as visual descriptions and form the basis for many creative projects. Sandra Weny: "Together with the designers and product managers of the bicycle manufacturers, we worked out the trend colors based on different metallic and pearlescent pigments in the Industrial Coatings division. This was followed by several rounds of approval in Asia, where the coatings manufacturers of our new customers are based. After final approval, sample production of the bikes began in the individual countries."

What was particularly challenging?

"Clearly the supply chain," explains Sandra Weny. "The bicycle industry seems to resemble a tight-knit family, with each manufacturer having different processes that have to be observed - where is production, who is the color supplier, who can provide on-site service, what is the layer structure? For us, it was of course of elementary importance to ensure that ECKART pigments were really used." The ECKART laboratory had to master questions such as: Is the color system we use comparable to that of the supplier? Which toners does he use? Here, we were always challenged to simplify the processes as best as possible in order to avoid duplication of work at our end, at the ink supplier's end, and also at the bicycle manufacturer's end.

Where did you achieve your first successes?

We worked on the first commercial project together with CENTURION. CENTURION is a German bicycle manufacturer and is one of the pioneers here of the trend sports BMX and mountain biking, which originated in the USA. The product portfolio offers a wide range of different bikes for all applications.

"Together with the designers from CENTURION, we were able to develop a trend color for two new bikes for the year 2024," Weny and Neumüller are pleased to report. The frontrunners in this project are the ECKART pigments from the EDELSTEIN range: EDELSTEIN Ruby Red and EDELSTEIN Topaz Orange. The names of the bikes are "BACKFIRE FIT" and "EASY P". Their production will start in October, and these bikes will be available in stores from 2024.

What projects is ECKART currently working on?

Through further cold-calling and word-of-mouth, we have managed to convince the world's largest bicycle manufacturer of ECKART's concept. Christoph Sontheimer tells us: "We currently have eight projects underway for the steadily growing e-bike sector and also for bikes without motors. Here, too, some of our exclusive trend colors will soon be seen on various bikes. Our visit to the leading global trade fair for everything to do with bikes showed that our concept is appealing and that more and more customers are open to collaboration."

Sontheimer elaborates further, "Not only the frames, but also the bicycle accessories play a major role. Bicycle helmets and clothing for cycling can also be finished with effect pigments - ECKART has a whole range of suitable, attractive product solutions for this. Our declared goal is to be the main contact for the bicycle industry when it comes to effect pigments."



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