A Safe Hand for Professionals and DIY Craftsmen

Interview with Markus Dulle, Managing Director of Gebol Handelsgesellschaft mbH

Gebol Protective Gloves
Professional users and hobby craftsmen alike appreciate not only the particularly good cut protection properties of Gebol's high-quality gloves

With its development and distribution know-how in the glove segment, Gebol Handelsgesellschaft mbH is a solid player in technical retail as well as in DIY markets in the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region. Managing Director Markus Dulle elaborates on the ongoing developments the company is working on, the challenges the supply chain disruptions of the pandemic brought, and how he consistently ensures the high quality standards of his products in an interview with Wirtschaftsforum.

Economic Forum: Mr. Dulle, from the former brush and paintbrush company Gebol, which later mainly appeared on the market as a supplier for painting supplies, has become a specialist in occupational safety since a restructuring in 2010. What range of products does your current commitment extend to?

Markus Dulle: In addition to helmets, safety glasses, and head protection devices, we develop and distribute especially gloves for professional users as well as for the do-it-yourself segment. Both the development activities and the sales activities are directly managed by Gebol, while we outsource the production of our products to contractors in East Asia. However, we strictly adhere to high quality standards: All items are invariably tested in several cycles at German or Austrian institutes and are only launched by us if they fully meet these demanding criteria.

Markus Dulle, Managing Director of Gebol Trading Company mbH
Markus Dulle, Managing Director of Gebol Trading Company mbH

Economic Forum: Especially DIY enthusiasts often need assistance in choosing from a wide range of products – can Gebol also provide support in this regard?

Markus Dulle: Against the backdrop of precisely this problem, we have developed a point-of-sales system that allows customers in retail to quickly get an overview of the possible options and determine the ideal variant for their specific application in a completely intuitive process. After all, a protective glove is not just a protective glove: For some tasks, the ‘strong’ version is absolutely necessary, while for others, good moisture or cut protection is more important. For this, we have established a star system in our POS system, with which the customer can communicate their requirements before the individual product characteristics of the gloves in the respective categories for construction work or mechanical or chemical activities are clearly presented to them. Such a user-friendly system is unique in the market so far.

Gebol - high-quality gloves

Economic Forum: How is the market currently evolving?

Markus Dulle: The rainy spring months in our main markets of Germany and Austria have led to fewer visits to DIY stores – and since protective gloves are a classic 'impulse buy' in these stores, we indeed felt that the growth rates from the Corona period could not be maintained this year. In the technical trade, however, we can look back on a continued good development; here, in the context of the negative trend in general construction activity, we expect a certain decline in the second half of 2023.

Economic Forum: The Corona years have promised booming business for Gebol, on the other hand?

Markus Dulle: Since we also distribute disposable gloves and respiratory masks, we were able to record an enormous demand starting in the spring of 2020 – at that time, I was not yet working for Gebol, but was sitting as a board member of a specialist retail group, so to say, on the other side of the table. That is why, during this difficult time, I was able to experience up close how Gebol consistently made an effort to satisfy all its customers despite the enormous challenges. The time-to-market was of essential importance in the context of the pandemic, after all, the masks could not be shipped to Europe by sea in containers for six weeks. This loyalty, which Gebol was characterized by as a reliable partner at the time, still pays off in our business relationships today.

Economic Forum: What further developments are you currently working on?

Markus Dulle: Of course, sustainability is also a key issue for Gebol: We have invested a year and a half in the development of a new glove series with cut protection class F, 60% of whose products consist of recycled material. Moreover, we have had it tested and certified that these gloves also meet all cut protection and other safety criteria after five normal washes – a quality proof that we are currently the only provider in the market to provide. Our internal processes are of course also being optimized for their sustainability balance: In this context, we moved into a new building on January 1, which is of course also equipped with a photovoltaic system. Furthermore, we are currently pursuing the goal of growing beyond the DACH region, and aim to represent the entire logistics chain of Gebol to the end customer independently in the future. On the product side, we always keep a close eye on the specific requirements of our users: thus, all our gloves now allow easy operation of smartphones.