Functionality and Aesthetics for Your Home

Interview with Daniel Popp, Authorized Officer and Member of the Executive Management of H. and J. Steiner GmbH

H. and J. Steiner Aluminum Slat Fence ‘Dublin’
The aluminum slat fence ‘Dublin’ is available in various designs

Whether it's a secure staircase for your home, a privacy fence for your garden, a photovoltaic system to generate your own electricity, or ladders and scaffolding to renovate your home – H. and J. Steiner GmbH in Purgstall, Austria, is the right address for both private and commercial customers. The company continuously adapts its portfolio to current market needs and is currently expanding its range of energetic and digital solutions.

Economic Forum: Mr. Popp, we look back on several years of crisis. How has the business developed over the last three challenging years and how do you assess the current market situation?

Daniel Popp: The pandemic initially led to a downturn, but we actively communicated in the market, for example, through our catalog. Fortunately, we had already advanced our digitization beforehand, including having our own online shop. Online, we naturally saw enormous increases, also with our Click & Collect offer, which, by the way, we had before Corona. The Ukraine crisis then brought about primarily exorbitant price increases. The materials became more expensive. In addition, there were extreme supply shortages. We relied on generous inventory management. That was our advantage. This is how we remained able to deliver. We are, of course, dependent on the development of the construction industry and are now sensing a hesitation in the market. Hardly any single and two-family homes are being built anymore. But there are many renovations. Politics is definitely called upon to maintain purchasing power.

Daniel Popp, Authorized Signatory and Member of the Executive Management of H. and J. Steiner GmbH
Daniel Popp, Authorized Signatory and Member of the Executive Management of H. and J. Steiner GmbH

Economic forum: What role does the German market play for the entire corporate group?

Daniel Popp: Germany and Austria are our most important markets and I expect that to remain the case in the near future. With our brand ‘Steiner Shopping’, we offer furniture and garden houses and are also active in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Belgium.

H. and J. Steiner Headquarters in Purgstall, Austria
The company's headquarters in Purgstall, Austria
H. and J. Steiner Logistics Center in Perwarth, Austria
A look at the logistics center in Perwarth, Austria
H. and J. Steiner Logistics Center in Wolfpassing, Austria
Another logistics center is located in Wolfpassing, Austria

Economic Forum: Your product range is extremely large. What are the most important categories today?

Daniel Popp: When Commercial Councillor Josef Steiner started his own business about 47 years ago, ladders were his first product. Then came scaffolds, stairs, and railings, and then gradually other products were added. These three product areas are still important to us. However, our main product is fences in various variations. Moreover, we now also offer garage doors, doors, windows, entire greenhouses, and photovoltaic solutions, balcony power plants, and garbage can covers. Recently, we have noticed an increasing demand for noise and privacy fences. Driven by the energy crisis, the topic of photovoltaics is becoming increasingly important.

Economic Forum: Please give us some examples of new product developments.

Daniel Popp: New this year are mailboxes, laminate, and vinyl floors. We closely monitor the market and its trends and continuously adapt our developments to the current needs. As there is an increasing demand for sustainable or energetic solutions, we have included photovoltaics in our program. We already had the necessary machines and tools. We try to place more and more sustainable products, for example around the topic of electricity. The garden area also has a lot of development potential. Here too, we are constantly adding new products.

H. and J. Steiner opaque aluminum fence 'Glasgow'
The opaque aluminum fence 'Glasgow'
H. and J. Steiner Visual and Noise Barrier 'Simple
The visual and noise barrier 'Simple

Economic Forum: How smart, how digital must your products be?

Daniel Popp: Digitization is a persistent theme, but it strongly depends on the specific products. Our goal is always to keep a product in our program for a long time, allowing for cost-effective manufacturing and also the production of large quantities based on standards. Our picking lists are executed via tablet, smartphone, or computer.

Economic Forum: You mentioned at the beginning that the company is already 47 years old. To what do you attribute this very long-term success of H. and J. Steiner?

Daniel Popp: First and foremost, it's certainly our personal and competent customer consultation. Our slogan is 'The customer comes as a stranger and leaves as a good acquaintance'. We live by that. We take care of our customers and strive to help them solve their problems. We care for them personally.

Economic Forum: What do you expect from the market in the coming months?

Daniel Popp: Due to the general economic situation, we expect a difficult autumn. Therefore, we will focus on maintaining our sales, which will include, among other things, doing more advertising and communicating more intensely.

H. and J. Steiner Fence from the 'Protect' Sandwich Panels
A fence from the 'Protect' sandwich panels
H. and J. Steiner Greenhouse 'Rosemary'
The Greenhouse 'Rosemary'
H. and J. Steiner various soils
The product range also includes a variety of soils

Economic Forum: What long-term goal do you pursue with H. and J. Steiner?

Daniel Popp: We definitely want to grow in the next few years. Therefore, we will expand both our headquarters and our exhibition and storage space. In the Wolfpassing industrial area, we are planning an administrative and logistics building including an exhibition space.