Heating systems that are real solutions

Interview with Philipp Stieda, Christopher Metz, and Christian Thoenemann, Managing Directors of Heizungsdiscount 24 GmbH

Heizungsdiscount 24 storage area
Heizungsdiscount 24 is an experienced partner in all things heating

A hot topic of the year 2023 was the Building Energy Act. Which buildings need to be modernized to what extent and what are the costs? Uncertainty and above all lack of transparency have characterized the public debate. This is exactly where Heizungsdiscount 24 has been stepping in since the company was founded more than ten years ago. The goal of the Giessen heating experts was and is: to make heating technology accessible and understandable to the end customer, with the highest level of transparency. We spoke with the managing directors Philipp Stieda, Christian Thoenemann, and Christopher Metz about the current market situation.

Wirtschaftsforum: Heating Discount 24 is the market leader in online sales around the topic of heating and air conditioning. What has brought the company to where it is in the market today?

Philipp Stieda: One key to our success is certainly our comprehensive offering. We do not just limit ourselves to heating systems, but also offer solutions around renewable energies. We are also flexible and quickly adapt to market and technology changes. For our customers, we are not just a dealer selling a product. When we entered the market 16 years ago with an eBay shop, we were a bit the enfant terrible of the industry, especially because we focused on price transparency from the beginning. Our basic idea was to make heating technology more accessible online. We had our first major growth spurt in 2011 with our first own online shop.

Christopher Metz: Through us, customers have direct access to products that they would not have been able to access through traditional means. Over the years, we have built very good relationships with our suppliers, which is an important aspect in times like these. We do not see ourselves as competition to the suppliers or to their traditional sales channels. We simply occupy the online channel for them, thus filling a gap. The heating market traditionally works in three stages. The manufacturer sells to the wholesaler, who in turn sells to the installer, and this one to the end customer. In this chain, one could consider us as a disruptive element, but in reality, we enable manufacturers and suppliers direct access to the end customer. Thus, we create a real win-win situation for all parties involved.

Heizungsdiscount 24 Water Treatment
In addition to heating systems, the portfolio also includes water treatment solutions
Heatingdiscount 24 Storage Technology

Wirtschaftsforum: How has the perception of heating, or the change of a heating system, from the end customer's point of view changed in recent years?

Philipp Stieda: The topic of heating or the replacement of a heating system has become an emotional issue due to rising energy prices and environmental regulations. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the market. Customers are very aware of the significance of their decisions and are looking for sustainable, yet cost-effective solutions.

Wirtschaftsforum: How do political decisions affect your business?

Christopher Metz: Political decisions, especially in the energy sector, directly affect our business. Sometimes they are beneficial, but sometimes they are also obstructive. The constant changes require us to be highly flexible. In general, we find that the state has become too big and too strong a player in the market. In principle, it is certainly sensible to promote technologies with incentives. But it should remain an incentive and not end in taking over half of all bills. The state believes that this organizes the market, for example in the area of building energy or also with electric cars. In the area of e-mobility, we have already experienced what happens when funding is increased and then decreased again. For the economy, this means an unpredictable ebb and flow.

Wirtschaftsforum: What are your goals for the coming years? Which climate goals do you want to achieve?

Philipp Stieda: Of course, as a company, we are fundamentally aware of our responsibility towards society and the environment. Change always starts with oneself. With our business model, we actively accompany the climate transition. By replacing every old heating system, we contribute a bit to the climate transition, even if we replace an old gas heating system with a new one that is about 20% more efficient than the predecessor model. However, it remains to be seen whether the heat pump will actually become the game changer in the industry next year.

Christopher Metz: We have set ourselves the ambitious, but achievable goal of about 30% growth per year. Of course, we would welcome if the heat pump were an important impulse here. But in principle, we are also open to other opportunities, for example for photovoltaic systems. Already in 2023, we have significantly expanded our portfolio, both in terms of our supplier network and our products. We will continue to closely monitor markets and assortments and analyze the potential for us.

Wirtschaftsforum: For growth, you need employees. How do you deal with the shortage of skilled workers?

Christian Thoenemann: We have positioned ourselves strongly, especially in the area of consultancy. When it comes to heating, a lot of information transfer is required right now. Which system do I need? How big does it have to be? Our employees are experts and capable of advising around the purchasing decision. This comprehensive service will also be an important argument in the near future.